Pennsylvania Senate Primary Wide Open After Exit of Trumpster Parnell

Pennsylvania Senate Primary Wide Open After Exit of Trumpster Parnell Former Senate GOP primary candidate Sean Parnell speaks during a maga rally Former Senate GOP primary candidate Sean Parnell (Keith Srakocic/AP)

John Gizzi By John Gizzi Tuesday, 23 November 2021 06:40 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The already-uncertain Republican primary for Senator from Pennsylvania became a bit more uncertain Monday following the surprise withdrawal of Trump-blessed candidate Sean Parnell.

Following a stormy court hearing in which details of his troubled marriage were aired and his estranged wife won custody of their children, the U.S. Army Ranger veteran announced he was leaving the race.

His exit almost certainly means more candidates will enter the race. Former Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Pa., (2012-18) was reportedly eyeing a Senate bid Monday. A strong conservative who maintains a following in Western Pennsylvania, Rothfus, 59, has remained active in GOP politics since his defeat three years ago.

One source who recently met with Donald Trump told Newsmax the former president is now unlikely to get "re-involved" in the primary for the seat of retiring Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

In contrast to Toomey (who was never close to Trump and voted for his impeachment earlier this year), the two presumed front-runners in the race are both considered Trump Republicans — and both very wealthy.

Jeff Bartos, Lower Merion real estate developer and 2018 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, is not close to Trump but campaigning as a Trump Republican.

"Jeff is probably the front-runner — for now," veteran conservative activist Lowman Henry, organizer of the annual Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, told Newsmax.

The other major contender is Carla Sands, former actress, chiropractor, and ambassador to Denmark. Sands, 60, who succeeded her late husband Fred as head of the Vintage Capital Group, was one of Trump's top fundraisers anywhere in 2016.

"I'm betting on Carla," one former Trump Administration official said. "She'll show up anywhere and anytime she has to and she'll spend whatever it takes."

Also in the race is Everett Stern, head of a private investigating firm.

Among Democrats, the early favorite is Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. An unabashed progressive, Fetterman — 6-feet, 8-inches tall and tattooed — favors universal Medicare, legalizing marijuana, and raising the minimum wage.

So far, the candidate described by Politico as "a man who could pass for a Hell's Angel and [has] a Harvard degree" has raised $4 million and is the early favorite over centrist Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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