Pa. Senate contender Parnell halts bid after custody ruling


Republican US Senate candidate Sean Parnell announced Monday he is suspending his Pennsylvania campaign after a judge granted his estranged wife full custody of their three children following domestic abuse allegations. 

Parnell, who has denied the claims, said he intends to ask the court to reconsider its ruling and does not feel he can continue in the race while the matter roils his family. 

“I strongly disagree with the ruling today and I’m devastated by the decision. 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,” Parnell said in a statement.  

“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. My focus right now is 100 [percent] on my children, and I want them to know I do not have any other priorities and will never stop fighting for them. Thank you.”

Sean Parnell
Sean Parnell addresses the virtual Republican National Convention on August 24, 2020.
Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty Images
Sean Parnell, Republican U.S. Representative candidate from Pennsylvania, speaks during a campaign rally for U.S. President Donald Trump in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020
Sean Parnell speaks during a campaign rally for Donald Trump in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020.
Justin Merriman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

During the custody trial, Parnell’s wife, Laurie Snell, accused him of both verbal and physical abuse. At times, Snell attributed the behavior of Parnell — a former Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan — to PTSD. 

In 2020, Parnell was narrowly defeated by Democrat Conor Lamb in the race to represent Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District. He was endorsed by former President Donald Trump to win the GOP primary in the battle to fill the Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

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