The two candidates polling at the front of the pack in Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Senate race and blanketing the airwaves with attack ads, are passing on the opportunity to face off in person. Both businessman David McCormick and celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz are skipping a much-anticipated debate Monday evening at Villanova University.

Dr. Mehmet Oz

Oz previously told organizers he could not take part in the debate due to a prior commitment. Now McCormick, a hedge fund CEO, is also a no-show.

“Dave is looking forward to debating. Hopefully, Mehmet will confirm a day and time soon,” said Jess Szymanski, a spokeswoman for McCormick.

Meanwhile, Jeff Bartos, a Montgomery County developer, responded to the decisions of McCormick and Oz to skip the debate with a jibe about their recent residencies in the commonwealth.

“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,” Bartos tweeted. “I’m looking forward to Monday’s debate, and unlike my out-of-state opponents, I will always show up for Pennsylvanians.”

While Oz now rents a house from his in-laws in Bryn Athyn, he also has a house in northern New Jersey and is an attending physician at New York  Presbyterian-Columbia Medical Center. He practiced medicine while appearing on his TV show “Dr. Oz.” Oz spent his college years in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a joint MD and MBA from the Penn School of Medicine and the Wharton Business School.

McCormick had lived in Connecticut for about 12 years, where he was the CEO of Bridgewater Associates, until moving back to the Pittsburgh area. He grew up on a Christmas tree farm in Bloomsburg. He attended West Point and served as an Army paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne in Iraq during the First Gulf War, where he received the Bronze Star.

Jeff Bartos

He worked as a consultant in Pittsburgh, then at a software company, where he rose to president and CEO.

At a previous debate, also sans Oz and McCormick, Bartos quipped, “Being a lifelong Pennsylvanian is a distinguishing characteristic in this campaign for the United States Senate in Pennsylvania.”

Other candidates expected to attend the debate Monday are Kathy Barnette, a Fox News commentator and author, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress against Madeleine Dean in Montgomery County; Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto; and Everett Stern, an investigator. It was unclear whether Carla Sands, the former ambassador to Denmark for President Donald Trump, would attend.

The debate is expected to be streamed and televised on PNC, which will also host a debate wrap-up afterward.


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