A leading Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, has decided to drop out of the race after a court ruling did not go in his favor.
Sean Parnell, who lost a tight U.S. House race to Democratic rival and current Rep. Conor Lamb in 2020, said his decision to suspend his campaign was due to a court removing him from having primary custody of his children.
“I strongly disagree with the ruling today and I’m devastated by the decision,” Parnell noted in a statement, adding that he plans to quickly appeal the decision..
“In the order, two of the leading factors that weighed heavily in the judge’s decision revolved around me being a leading U.S. Senate candidate. There is nothing more important to me than my children, and while I plan to ask the court to reconsider, I can’t continue with a Senate campaign,” he said.
“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,” he added.
The Epoch Times notes:
Parnell has been locked in a custody battle with his wife, Laurie Snell, who has accused him of abusing both her and the children.
Arner said that Snell not opposing Parnell having shared custody, that at least three and-a-half years have gone by without incident, and that the children have not expressed concerns for their safety led him to rule that Parnell can share custody, including having unsupervised time with the children.
Parnell leaves a very crowded race; he was one of nearly a dozen others vying for Toomey’s seat. But Parnell was seen as leading the pack in many circles, especially after having received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump.
Tied at 50-50 with Democrats controlling thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ vote, a shift of even one seat to the GOP would give the party control over Biden’s nominees and his agenda for the remainder of his first term, at least.
Now that Parnell has exited, there is no clear frontrunner, according to one GOP operative who spoke to Fox News.
“I think it was always a pretty open race and going forward it’s wide open,” the GOP strategist, who asked remain anonymous to speak more clearly, said.
“No one’s risen up but you’ve got certain campaigns that are strong, running good races and are clearly in it for the long haul. And there’s a whole host of candidates who are looking at running and everything points to it being very real for some of them.”
The network added:
The two Republicans in the current field who appear to be in the race for the long haul are Jeff Bartos, a real estate developer and longtime GOP fundraiser who was a 2018 candidate for lieutenant governor, and Carla Sands, a business executive and Republican donor who served as U.S. ambassador to Denmark during the Trump administration.
Parnell’s exit from the primary battle makes it increasingly likely that other high-profile GOP contenders will enter the race.
Among them are David McCormick, a hedge fund executive, West Point graduate, Gulf War combat veteran, and former Treasury Department official in former President George W. Bush’s administration. The Pittsburgh native is married to Dina Powell McCormick, a Wall Street executive who served as a deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration.