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Shapiro and Oz appear at Pa. Chamber dinner, while Mastriano and Fetterman sit it out

The event was a chance to clarify each candidate’s stances, as well as shine a spotlight on the absence of their respective opponents.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Candidates from both of Pennsylvania’s major elections—for governor and for the U.S. Senate—appeared at the 38th annual Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry dinner on Monday night. 

Democratic candidate for governor Josh Shapiro and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mehmet Oz both sat down for 30-minute conversations on their positions and what they would do in office, especially pertaining to issues affecting the business community.

More than 70 elected officials from both the state House and Senate attended the dinner, as well as big political names such as former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.

The Chamber of Business and Industry represents 10,000 Pennsylvania businesses. The group does not endorse federal candidates, but at an event last week, former president Gene Barr said many businesses in the chamber supported Oz’s policies.

Oz said as senator, he would vote to protect the Senate’s filibuster rules and reduce regulations for businesses, a common theme of his campaign. He said he supported making immigrants who request asylum wait outside the country while their claims are processed, while at the same time raising the national quota for legal immigration.

Oz also offered his position on abortion: “I believe that abortion should be left to the states. I’m pro-life. I have three exceptions: life of the mother, rape, and incest.”

Shapiro said as governor, he would work to reduce regulatory hurdles for businesses to thrive, as well as lower the corporate tax rate to 4% by 2025.

He also spoke on energy and its role in the Pennsylvania economy: “I think the notion that we have to choose between environmental justice and the dignity of work is absolutely wrong. I think we can do both. We can care for our planet and create thousands of jobs here in Pennsylvania, good green energy jobs while protecting the jobs we have now. I’m an all of the above energy governor.”

Just as significant as the candidates’ answers, though, was the absence of their respective opponents to answer the same questions.

Republican candidate for governor Doug Mastriano has avoided talking with the mainstream media and independently-moderated debates.

Democratic candidate for Senate John Fetterman has largely stayed away from public appearances since suffering a stroke in May.

Their absence drew criticism from two guest speakers at the event, former Democratic national committeewoman Donna Brazile and former Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

"I think that both candidates who didn’t show up made a mistake and did a disservice to the Commonwealth,” Christie said.

In the latest polling, Shapiro is currently leading Mastriano by 10 points, according to FiveThirtyEight

Oz, meanwhile, is closing in on Fetterman in the polls, with Fetterman is moving away from a double-digit lead in July to a lead small enough to be within the margin of error

The Fetterman campaign had released a statement earlier in the day criticizing Oz’s promotion of some unproven medical treatments on The Dr. Oz Show in 2011 and 2012, calling him a “fraud and malicious scam artist.”

Brazile and Christie led a discussion on the central role Pennsylvania plays in influencing national politics. The swing state is often seen as a weather vane for the political mood of the country, so the outcome of the coming election could offer insights heading into the 2024 presidential election.

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