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Republican Sean Parnell announces run for open U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania

The Army veteran, who is a fixture on right-wing cable news, unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa, last year.
Image: Sean Parnell
Pennsylvania Republican congressional candidate Sean Parnell speaks ahead of a campaign rally with President Donald Trump, in Moon Township, Pa., on Sept. 22, 2020.Keith Srakocic / AP file

Sean Parnell, a staunch support of former President Donald Trump who narrowly lost a race for Pennsylvania’s 17th congressional district in November, announced Tuesday that he plans to run for the open Senate seat in the state.

“The U.S Senate is evenly divided, Senate control depends on us,” Parnell said in an ad to Pennsylvania voters released on his Senate campaign website.

“As Infantry Captain, I fought to defend this country from those that would do us harm. In the U.S. Senate, I’ll fight to ensure all of our little ones have the right to live their version of the American Dream,” he wrote on his campaign website. “I’ve led some of America’s finest warriors in battle, and I’m ready to bring that leadership to Washington.”

The Army veteran, who is a fixture on right-wing cable news, failed to unseat incumbent Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa, last year, 51 percent to 49 percent, in Pennsylvania 17, a swing district outside Pittsburgh. Parnell, who was endorsed by Trump and had a speaking slot at the Republican National Convention, had refused to concede that race, echoing the former president’s unfounded claims of voter fraud.

The Senate seat in the presidential battleground state was left open after two-term GOP Sen. Pat Toomey announced last October that he would not seek re-election. Toomey had pushed back against Trump’s claims of voter fraud in Pennsylvania, which was key to President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Parnell later joined an unsuccessful lawsuit in the state to overturn Biden's victory in the election.

“You’re always trained as a leader to go where the contact is heaviest on the battlefield because that’s what your soldiers need to see,” Parnell told KDKA, a CBS station in Pittsburgh. “The Senate, here in Pennsylvania it’s an open seat, that’s where the contact is heaviest.”

The Purple Heart recipient also told the station that he does not regret his lawsuit challenging the 2020 election results in the state.

“I’m not going to relitigate 2020. Like I told you before, I’m focused on 2022. But I will say regarding the lawsuit I filed...I stand by it,” he said.

Parnell, 58, who went on to write a memoir of the war in Afghanistan and two action novels, is among a crowded field of candidates running for the seat or exploring a run with a year to go until the primary election.