Campaigns & Elections

Parnell launches bid for Toomey’s Senate seat

A screenshot from Sean Parnell's campaign announcement video.

A screenshot from Sean Parnell's campaign announcement video. Sean Parnell/Facebook

The race for Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat in Pennsylvania just got a bit more crowded. Sean Parnell, a Republican army veteran who unsuccessfully challenged Democractic Rep. Conor Lamb last year, formally announced his bid for Toomey’s seat yesterday. 

“Our Second Amendment is under assault, our First Amendment is too. The Democrats are not shy about their agenda,” Parnell said at his announcement event in McCandless, just north of Pittsburgh. “It is our duty and our responsibility in 2022 to stop them.”

With multiple appearances on Fox News, Parnell made a name for himself as an advocate of President Donald Trump, even joining his post-election lawsuit that attempted to overturn the election in Pennsylvania. 

His campaign website says that his top priorities include supporting the military and law enforcement, securing the border, and protecting energy jobs. Having pre-existing conditions related to wounds sustained while in the Army, his site also states that Parnell is committed to ensuring those with pre-existing conditions have access to quality health care.

Parnell is the second Republican to enter the primary race. Real estate developer and former GOP lieutenant governor candidate Jeff Bartos, the first Republican to announce his Senate bid, has received support from GOP leaders around the state. 

Parnell’s announcement came following Bartos releasing a letter from Republican leaders in Pennsylvania urging Parnell to make another run at the House. 

“Sean Parnell came close to beating Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District in 2020 and if we unite behind Sean early, we know 2022 will be a different story. Sean Parnell is our best chance to win PA-17 and take back a seat that should be in Republican control,” the letter said. “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.”

Six state legislators and six county chairs were among those that signed the letter. Their push for Parnell to challenge Lamb again is an attempt to avoid a messy primary that is getting more congested by the day. Parnell lost to Lamb by just over two points in the 2020 17th Congressional District race.

Since Toomey revealed his plans to retire at the end of his term in 2022 last October, several Democrats and Republicans have thrown their hats into the ring. Lamb is also included in the names of potential candidates alongside other Democrats Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, PA Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, and Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh. 

The hotly contested seat in a battleground state will continue to be in the national spotlight over the next year.