With two Donald Trump presidential campaigns behind us, and a third possibly on its way, it’s tough to know just exactly where we stand. Did the former President fundamentally alter American politics as we know it, or was he just an eventful aberration?
One of the races that will answer this question is the 2022 open Senate contest in the critical commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Sean Parnell, a veteran and unsuccessful 2020 Congressional nominee, is the most prominent Republican in the field and recently secured Trump’s endorsement. A major scandal, though, threatens to derail his entire campaign. At least, it seems like his campaign is in danger.
Earlier this month, Parnell’s ex-wife Laurie Snell gave some disturbing testimony about his conduct. Snell told a family court judge that Parnell was verbally and physically abusive towards both her and their children. She also described how he once kicked her out of a car and told her to “go get an abortion.”
We already knew that Snell sought two temporary protection-from-abuse orders against Parnell in 2017 and 2018. Last September, a Super PAC supporting GOP candidate Jeff Bartos highlighted these orders in a TV ad. This spot also featured provocative comments Parnell made about women on Fox Nation.
“The idea that a woman doesn’t need a man to be successful, the idea that a woman can live a happy and fulfilling life without a man, I think it’s all nonsense,” Parnell proclaims. “I feel like the whole ‘happy wife, happy life’ nonsense has done nothing but raise one generation of women tyrants after the next. Now there’s an entire generation of men that don’t want to put up with the B.S. of a high-maintenance, narcissistic woman.”
Parnell vehemently denies all the allegations against him, and as of this writing the case over custody of their kids is pending. Despite his pleas of innocence, however, there are indications that influential PA Republicans are trying to edge him out.
A few days after Snell’s testimony, Politico reported that several prominent party leaders are pushing for hedge fund manager and Army Ranger David McCormick to jump into the race. McCormick is apparently willing to spend millions of his own money if decides to take the leap.
It’s not a guarantee, though, that McCormick’s entry will shake up the race. After all, big-money candidates like Bartos and Carla Sands are already running, yet not making much of an impact. All the while, available polling shows Parnell leading the GOP primary.
As you might expect, Donald Trump is doubling down on his support of Parnell, with the ex-President announcing that he’s holding a fundraiser for Parnell at his Mar-A-Lago estate. Several women have accused Trump of assaulting them, including his first wife, and Trump delights in both denying and mocking their claims.
Georgia and the 2022 Senate Map
This whole situation in the Keystone State is being replicated down in Georgia as well. Donald Trump convinced Herschel Walker, who he first met back in his USFL days in the 1980s, to run for Senate despite some disturbing accusations of his own. His ex-wife alleged that Walker pointed a gun to her head, leading her to seek a protective order against him.
Walker’s defense to voters will likely emphasize his diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder, or multiple personality disorder. You can also expect that Walker’s campaign will hit back hard against any attacks from Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock by mentioning that Warnock’s ex-wife accuses the Senator of running over her foot with his car.
Nevertheless, candidates like Parnell and Walker are giving the GOP major heartburn, as they worry that they’re blowing a prime opportunity to win the Senate next year. If Republicans lose in Pennsylvania and Georgia, their path to the majority would significantly narrow. They’d then need to unseat Democratic incumbents in both Arizona and Nevada, while avoiding losses anywhere else, to reach 51 seats.
Of course, this all assumes that the old rules of politics still apply. In the past, such a scandal would’ve sent Parnell’s fundraising and poll numbers into a tailspin. Now, it’s just as easy to imagine the scrutiny will draw even more voters to his banner. Only time will tell, but the answer to this conundrum is set to define the 2022 and 2024 election cycles.