Republican Sean Parnell, endorsed by former President Donald Trump for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat, announced on Monday he is suspending his campaign after losing his child custody case.
His announcement came after a judge awarded Mr. Parnell‘s estranged wife, Laurie Snell, primary physical custody and sole legal custody of their three children.
“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,” Mr. Parnell said in a statement.
Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Parnell in September, giving him what was considered a significant edge in the 2022 GOP primary. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is retiring, and Democrats view the seat as one of their top pickup opportunities heading in next year’s midterms when they will defend their slim Senate majority.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is perhaps the best-known candidate to date in the Democratic field. On the GOP side, TV personality Mehmet Oz, or “Dr. Oz,” is weighing a bid but hasn’t announced his candidacy.
Among the other GOP candidates are businessman Jeff Bartos, the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor in 2018, and Carla Sands, who was the U.S. ambassador to Denmark during the Trump administration.
Mr. Parnell‘s wife has accused him of physical and emotional abuse, accusations that the decorated Afghanistan war veteran has denied strenuously.
“I strongly disagree with the ruling today and I’m devastated by the decision,” Mr. Parnell said of the custody case. “I plan on asking the court to reconsider this 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.”
“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 said.