Remember "Tan Mom"? In 2012, she went viral after she took her 5-year-old daughter to a New Jersey tanning salon. Now the pop culture personality — whose real name is Patricia Krentcil — is running for office.
On Jan. 15, 2023, Patricia filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Florida, TMZ confirmed. She's challenging incumbent GOP senator Rick Scott in the 2024 election — and she's running as a Republican despite not exactly following the party line on multiple issues, especially amid a controversy-filled political climate in Florida, where she now calls Boca Raton home.
Patricia spoke to "TMZ Live" to explain why she's running, explaining that she's not a fan of some of Republican governor Ron DeSantis's controversial policies and thinks others in her party feel the same way.
"I was blessed and was able to be a part of raising money for the Sunshine Cathedral in Florida. I saw the amazing work they had done and it really impressed me," Patricia told TMZ, referring to the Ft. Lauderdale church with a ministry based in progressive Christianity that has a constituency of same-gender and gender non-conforming people and prides itself on being a safe and open community for LGBTQ+ people to worship.
Patricia also said she's concerned about the banning of books in her new home state. "I was horrified about the book banning [in schools] in Florida … just a lot of the episodes that are going on here," she told TMZ. "And nobody is addressing them."
She also said Medicaid was an issue for her, as she believes it's "just being abominably banished for the elderly especially. That's three reasons I started doing this," she added of what sparked her interest in going to Washington.
During their chat, TMZ founder Harvey Levin pointed out that Patricia's positions make her sound more like a Democrat than a Republican. But according to her, she's running as Republican because "I've always been a Republican and my feeling and my issues may sound more Democratic but I am a Republican through and through," she insisted.
"I'm trying to embrace it for people who realize the situation at hand, more today than it ever was, and maybe if I sound more like a Republican, Republicans need to take this not for granted," she continued.
She's hoping people will see her in a new light. "I don't want to be known as what I was as 'Tan Mom.' I've grown and I'm here to help and want to help people that are struggling," she said. "And maybe more Republicans should have a different taste in their mouth when they're trying to help people in the world today."
Patricia further told TMZ, "I know that I am different. And I have suffered for it. But us all being different is what makes this country so amazing and unique."
According to the New York Post, her candidacy comes as she's starring in the TV docuseries "Tan to 10," which chronicles her efforts to stop tanning and change her life. Patricia – who went to rehab for alcohol addiction in 2013 – named her producers Gregg Maliff and Adam Barta as her campaign managers.