Republicans’ road to taking back the U.S. Senate in 2022 just got a bit harder.
Only two weeks after New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu disappointed many by declining to run for Senate, a leading candidate in Pennsylvania suspended his campaign late Monday.
Sean Parnell, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump earlier this fall, left the race after a judge ruled that his estranged wife should receive custody of their children in a case where she accused him of spousal abuse.
Declaring he was “devastated” by the decision and planned to appeal, Parnell added, “My focus right now is 100% on my children, and I want them to know I do not have any other priorities and will never stop fighting for them.”
The judge’s ruling followed a contentious three-day custody trial.
The seat, currently held by two-term Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, will be one of the most competitive U.S. Senate races next year, due to Pennsylvania being a swing state that flipped back to Democrats at the presidential level in 2020.
Several Democrats have announced their plans to run for the seat, including Rep. Conor Lamb and Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman.
Parnell lost a U.S. Congressional race in 2020 to Lamb by only 10,000 votes. He is former U.S. Army ranger and best-selling author, who received the Purple Heart after serving in Afghanistan.
Other Republicans competing in the Keystone State primary are former ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands and businessman Jeff Bartos. Wall Street executive David McCormick and celebrity surgeon Mehmet Oz also are reportedly considering starting campaigns.
“I believe Monday’s news makes Jeff Bartos the Republican frontrunner among declared candidates,” Philadelphia-area businessman Brian Dilsheimer told PJ Media. “Jeff is a smart, effective businessman with real-world experience. He cares deeply about the people of Pennsylvania, and is interested in and capable of doing the right thing for the citizens he would represent.”
Related: The Key U.S. Senate Races of 2022
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that “Trump and his team put no pressure on Parnell to quit the race, according to aides for both men, and the former president wasn’t expected to make an immediate endorsement of another candidate, according to people familiar with his thinking.”
Trump's endorsement is getting the headlines, but a lot of prominent MAGA Republicans had endorsed Parnell in #PASen pic.twitter.com/5iUkWWHF3X
— David Weigel (@daveweigel) November 22, 2021
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