The campaign for McCormick, a former hedge fund executive, said he would skip the debate after learning that Oz, the celebrity cardiothoracic surgeon, would not be there. Oz’s campaign told The Hill it had previously informed the event organizers that he would not be attending due to a scheduling conflict.
Christopher Nicholas, a Pennsylvania GOP consultant and a debate sponsor, also confirmed that the two candidates would not be attending.
“Dave is looking forward to debating. Hopefully Mehmet will confirm a day and time soon,” said McCormick campaign spokesperson Jess Szymanski.
Oz participated in a recent forum at the state GOP’s winter meeting with the other candidates who had declared.
Former Danish ambassador Carla Sands will also not participate in Monday’s debate.
Oz and McCormick are the two most recent entrants in the Keystone State’s marquee Senate race to replace retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R).
Both are anticipated to bring their significant personal wealth to bear in the race to boost their name identification and GOP bona fides. They join businessman and 2018 lieutenant governor candidate Jeff Bartos, former Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands and several others in the GOP primary.
Bartos, McCormick and Oz are considered to be in the primary field’s top tier.
Bartos took the opportunity to hit Oz and McCormick over their debate absences, noting the extensive time each has spent outside of Pennsylvania.
“Perhaps if this debate was held in Connecticut or New Jersey, Dave McCormick and Mehmet Oz would be inclined to attend and defend their records,” said Bartos. “I’m looking forward to Monday’s debate, and unlike my out-of-state opponents, I will always show up for Pennsylvanians.”
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, and Rep. Conor Lamb are among the candidates running on the Democratic side.