It’s been a long time comin’, but four of the top candidates for the GOP’s U.S. Senate nomination met earlier today in Erie.
Mehmet Oz, David McCormick, Jeff Bartos and Kathy Barnette participated in a forum sponsored by the Manufacturer & Business Association (MBA) in Erie. Carla Sands declined an invitation to attend, while George Bochetto and Sean Gale did not meet the organizers’ criteria to participate.
The candidates were asked for their views on energy, infrastructure, the economy and other topics affecting Pennsylvania’s workforce and business community. But the first public appearance for the quartet on the same stage quickly took a turn, as criticism was directed at Oz – best-known as the TV host of the “Dr. Oz Show.”
Two questions into the forum, McCormick, the former CEO of hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, accused Oz of arguing for more regulations and a moratorium on gas production in the Commonwealth.
“That’s a lie, and you know that’s a lie,” Mr. Oz cut in. “You keep running those ads.”
“Why is everyone attacking me?” Oz asked rhetorically near the end of the session.
“Because you’re a liberal,” replied Barnette with a smile.
Despite the agreement from all camps not to attack each other, she said she had no choice. “This is not a talk show. This is reality,” she added. “And we need people who understand what the issues are, that don’t don’t simply sit in a room, learn our talking points, and then come back and parrot them to us.”
Barnette then added McCormick to her targets.
“How has that served us, picking the richest person just because they’re the richest person?” Barnette asked. “Have we learned nothing over these last two years with Democrats putting their foot on our throats?”
“We need to elect someone for this Senate seat who authentically believes the things they’re saying,” McCormick said during the forum. “So you need to pick someone who’s demonstrated those conservative principles through time and is going to take that set of consistent principles to Washington and fight for them.”
“For me, this campaign has always been about a deep love and commitment to our commonwealth,” said Bartos. He also explained that his frustration with years of campaigning is being overridden by “political tourists,” such as Oz, who hails from New Jersey, and McCormick, who lived in Connecticut.
The candidates mostly agreed on policy such as making the Trump tax cuts permanent and extracting more natural gas in the state. They also argued against government spending and criticized the “woke” culture on the left.