Dr. Oz in danger of being overtaken by 'ultra-MAGA' candidate surging in polls: report
Dr. Oz, heart surgeon & television personality speaks, at the Web Summit, Lisbon. (Shutterstock.com)

Celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz has massive name recognition, a ton of money, and former President Donald Trump's "complete and total endorsement" in the Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary.

But Kathy Barnette, the so-called "ultra-MAGA" candidate, is surging in recent polls and is threatening to steal the nomination from Oz and the other leading candidate, David McCormick, according to Politico. Pennsylvania's GOP Senate primary is one of the most closely watched -- and expensive -- races in the country.

Previously, the conservative commentator wasn't given much of a chance of being a factor. She's never run for statewide office and two years ago suffered a huge defeat in a race for a House seat in the Philadelphia suburbs.

According to the Politico report, "Barnette’s unlikely — and, to some, unbelievable — rise has turned heads in political circles across the state because it defies political logic. Mehmet Oz and David McCormick have spent $12.4 million and $11.4 million on television commercials, respectively, according to the ad-tracking firm AdImpact. Other candidates and outside groups have bankrolled $25 million more in spots. Oz has also won a highly sought-after nod from Trump."

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Barnette, in contrast, "has spent a paltry $137,000 on TV."

Brian Nutt, a Pennsylvania-based Republican strategist who isn't working with any of the GOP candidates, says, “Barnette’s apparent rise is surprising just because of the lack of notoriety or resources compared to some of the other candidates in that race.”

Republican strategists and officials across the Keystone State believe Barnette is likely benefiting from the high-octane battle between Oz and McCormick. McCormick's attack ads label Oz as a “RINO," while Oz calls McCormick as a stooge for China.

In an interview, Barnette told Politico she has been successful because voters are looking for “authenticity” amid the TV ad wars.

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“They’re spending $50 million on ads. That is their campaign,” she said of her opponents. “Unless there’s some high-falutin’ press conference or debates or events to go to, it’s overwhelmingly on television. And it’s these plastic, little run-of-the-mill political ads.”

In an April debate, Barnette said “MAGA does not belong to President Trump.”

“Our values never, never shifted to President Trump’s values,” she said. “It was President Trump who shifted and aligned with our values.”