Nov 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Trump-backed Sean Parnell ends Senate campaign after losing custody battle

Photo of Sean Parnell speaking from a stage to a crowd of MAGA supporters
Sean Parnell speaks during a campaign rally for then-President Donald Trump in Latrobe, Pennsylvania on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. Photo: Justin Merriman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republican Sean Parnell, the Trump-backed candidate running to represent Pennsylvania in the Senate, announced Monday that he is dropping out of the race after losing custody of his children to his estranged wife.

Why it matters: Parnell was considered one of the frontrunners for the GOP nomination to replace Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who is retiring at the end of his term after Trump endorsed the former U.S. Army Ranger in September.

Details: Laurie Snell has accused Parnell of multiple forms of abuse, including choking her and hitting one of their children, the Washington Post reports. The couple separated in 2018.

  • Parnell denies the allegations, but Senior Judge James Arner wrote in his order that he believes "Parnell did commit some acts of abuse in the past," per the Post as Arner found Snell to be “the more credible witness” in proceedings.
  • After hearing testimonies from both parents as well as the three children, Arner awarded primary physical and sole legal custody of their children to Snell.
  • Arner also factored in Parnell's run for office, which would require frequent travel away from the children, according to the Post.

What he's saying: "I strongly disagree with the ruling today," 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% on my children, and I want them to know I do not have any other priorities and will never stop fighting for them."
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