Five months ago, the Republican primary to succeed retiring Sen. Pat Toomey looked like a relatively straightforward affair. But after the frontrunner dropped out amidst scandal and with the primary fast approaching, the Republican field in Pennsylvania is as unsettled as it ever has been.
The evenly divided Senate means that Republicans need to gain just one seat to take control of the chamber. With only four credible pickup opportunities, the GOP has little room for error, and losing one of their own seats like Pennsylvania’s would make reclaiming the majority that much harder.
Sean Parnell, the Army veteran who narrowly lost a Western Pennsylvania congressional race in 2020 — had emerged as a Fox News and Trumpworld favorite against a divided field of lesser known hopefuls.
But just weeks after finally receiving Trump’s endorsement, Parnell lost custody of his children in a contentious divorce proceeding that saw his then-wife accuse him of physical abuse. He dropped out of the race, throwing the primary into a state (or commonwealth) of uncertainty.
In the vacuum that followed, none of the candidates already in the race — even the one who successfully pushed Parnell out, real estate investor Jeff Bartos — could establish themselves as the new frontrunner.
Instead, the contest has been jolted by several surprise entries, and with less than four months to go there’s no one clear favorite anymore. The GOP nomination is an important piece of one of the most…