Former congressional candidate and Army veteran Sean Parnell officially jumped into Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate primary on Tuesday.
Parnell announced his candidacy at an event Tuesday afternoon, The Associated Press reported.
He earlier told Pittsburgh-based radio station KDKA that he wanted his “children to inherit an America that is rich with opportunity and is vibrant and free.”
“And for the first time in my life, I’m not sure that is going to happen,” he told the news outlet, in an interview published shortly before he was expected to make his official announcement. “I think right now the mission for me is to protect and preserve the American way of life.”
Parnell is the second major candidate to jump into the race. He joins real estate developer and former lieutenant governor candidate Jeff Bartos, along with three other declared candidates.
Shortly before Parnell’s announcement, Bartos released a letter from several Pennsylvania Republicans urging him to run for House instead, underscoring GOP concerns over a messy primary heading into a marquee Senate race.
“With Sean Parnell running for the House and Jeff Bartos running for the Senate, our party will be in the best possible position to succeed in 2022,” the officials wrote.
Parnell is a vocal defender of former President Trump and is close friends with Donald Trump Jr., who said earlier this year that he would support Parnell for any office he ran for in 2022. Parnell ran for Congress last year in Pennsylvania’s 17th congressional district but lost to incumbent Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Penn.) by roughly two points.
Lamb is also said to be considering a Senate bid on the Democratic side. He would be joining Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, state Rep. Malcom Kenyatta, and Montgomery County commissioner Val Arkoosh in the race.
The seat in question is currently held by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), who announced in October that he would not seek another term as senator. The seat could likely determine the balance of power in the Senate, which Republicans are hoping to win back. There is currently a 60-60 tie in the upper chamber with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaking vote.
The Hill, Julia Manchester, May 11