Sean Parnell, a strong Republican Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, suspended his campaign on Monday after a court ordered that his estranged wife, who accused him of spousal and child abuse, should have primary custody of their three children.

Former President Donald J. Trump backed Parnell, who claimed he was "devastated" by the verdict and wanted to appeal. Laurie Snell, Parnell's wife, said in court this month that he had beaten her and their children on several occasions, choking her and beating one of their children so hard that he left a welt on the child's back.

Sean Parnell's estranged wife wins custody battle

A Butler County judge said in a judgement released on Monday that he regarded Snell to be "the more credible witness" and that he felt Parnell had perpetrated "some acts of abuse in the past."

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania currently holds the seat, which is widely regarded as one of the most competitive Senate elections in 2022. Conor Lamb, a congressman from outside Pittsburgh, and John Fetterman, the current lieutenant governor, are among the Democrats who have announced their intentions to compete for the seat.

Per NY Times, Parnell, a former Army Ranger who was awarded the Purple Heart for service in Afghanistan, was widely seen as a leading Republican contender, especially after Trump backed him in September. However, Parnell's family background highlighted some Republican leaders' concerns about the candidates Trump has backed in GOP primaries for close midterm campaigns.

Parnell lost a congressional contest in 2020 by a whisker, and one of his Republican Senate opponents, Jeff Bartos, had targeted him for temporary protection orders he got in 2017 and 2018.

Despite being accused of threatening his ex-wife on many occasions, certain Senate candidates favored by Trump have remained viable. In Georgia, Herschel Walker, a former football star, is viewed as a top contender to oppose Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat.

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Pennsylvania Senate candidate informs Trump of his campaign withdrawal

According to Politico, a source close to Parnell claimed he phoned former President Donald Trump, who backed his candidacy, to notify him of his decision. Parnell was the early Republican front-runner in the election, but charges of domestic abuse have harmed his candidacy.

During evidence in divorce and custody procedures, Parnell's divorced wife accused him of holding her down and choking her, as well as punching one of their children. Parnell is also accused of abandoning Snell by a highway and telling her to get an abortion when she was pregnant, according to Snell.

In court, Parnell rejected the charges. Snell also claimed Parnell had an affair with his now-girlfriend, Melanie Rawley, throughout their marriage, although Rawley stated in her own evidence that she believed the pair was separated when the relationship began.

With two-term Republican US Senator Pat Toomey's retirement in 2023, Pennsylvania's Senate seat will become vacant, and both Republicans and Democrats will face a large field of candidates in the politically split state.

Many in the state Republican Party, including conservative commentator Kathy Barnette, real estate investor Jeff Bartos, and Carla Sands, Trump's ambassador to Denmark, are ambivalent about Parnell's withdrawal.

Trump, who had enthusiastically embraced Parnell in September with the help of his oldest son, has suffered a huge setback as a result of Parnell's departure.

Taylor Budowich, a Trump spokeswoman, said Trump and Parnell spoke before Parnell's statement and that Parnell notified Trump of his desire to halt his campaign as a result of the decision.

The former president stated on Twitter that the Pennsylvania Senate campaign "remains a major priority" for him and that "rallying our movement behind the finest America 1st candidate" is crucial, USA Today reported.

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