Bomb or backlash? GOP Pennsylvania Senate Primary Wrong Turn Leaves Questions For Jeff Bartos And Sean Parnell
WASHINGTON – Allies of Republican Senate candidate Jeff Bartos continued his attack on GOP rival Sean Parnell, highlighting protection orders sought by Parnell’s wife – but party insiders are divided over who suffers the worst political fallout .
On Monday night, a political action committee aligned with Bartos aired a 30-second commercial during the Eagles-Cowboys game that highlighted the derogatory comments about women Parnell made in 2019 and briefly praised the temporary orders of protection against abuse issued against him after allegations by his ex-wife.
Longer versions of the ad, which draws on a burst of Montgomery County developer Bartos, launched in early September, also air online and on streaming services for an additional week, according to the Super PAC of Jobs for Our Future. Each reports how Bartos’ allies continue to try to derail Parnell after the Pittsburgh-area veteran won the coveted endorsement of former President Donald Trump.
Little is known about what motivated the two orders issued against Parnell in 2017 and 2018; both were lifted after he and his wife appeared before the judges, and the orders were later struck down. Parnell said his comments on women were on a television segment intended for comedy.
Republicans are divided over whether the ugly early clash slowed Parnell’s momentum or backfired on Bartos.
Some say Parnell’s orders and comments should give the GOP a break on the top favorite in a Senate race with national implications.
Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity, a Bartos supporter and the most senior elected woman in state politics, called the accusations against Parnell “extremely disturbing” and called on him to explain them “openly and fully”.
“Sean Parnell served our country honorably and at the cost of great personal sacrifice in the war on terrorism. However, his attitude towards women is troubling, as are the unanswered questions about court documents, ”Garrity said in an interview after The Inquirer first reported the charges. “As a woman and a veteran, I think Sean should answer all of these questions openly and fully.”
Garrity said his concerns had “absolutely nothing to do with” his early approval of Bartos. (Parnell’s camp notes that Bartos also contributed to Garrity’s campaign last year.)
READ MORE: Sean Parnell’s wife has requested protection orders against him. Pennsylvania Senate race rival Jeff Bartos said it made him “unelected.”
The Inquirer asked nine Pennsylvania GOP insiders about it. Few were willing to speak publicly about the fight, but some argued that it had raised enough concern to at least slow Parnell’s hopes of consolidating his support after gaining Trump’s backing.
Bartos launched the attack days after approval. Several Republicans worried on how revelations of protection orders will be viewed by women in the suburbs, a critical voting bloc.
Others say the real damage was done to Bartos, who they say dropped his biggest bomb early, and that was a dud. Instead, they say, he faced an even more backlash for addressing such a personal issue, nearly nine months before the primary.
“It is a testimony of [Parnell] and his team that he survived the first 48 hours and the following 14 days “after Bartos released the details, said Vince Galko, a Republican strategist from Chester County who is not aligned with any of the candidates.” He always remains the leader.
Heather Heidelbaugh, lawyer for Parnell’s campaign and GOP candidate for state attorney general last year, said voters “deserve more” from a statewide candidate.
“The citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should pay close attention to the depths into which Mr. Bartos will go in an attempt to distort the facts,” Heidelbaugh said in a statement provided by the Parnell campaign.
None of the attacks prevented Parnell from securing high-level support from Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.), one of the leaders of the GOP effort to overthrow the 2020 presidential election on Thursday. and reject the Pennsylvania votes.
Parnell, a former Army Ranger who won a Purple Heart in Afghanistan, called on Bartos to drop out of the race.
With incumbent Republican Senator Pat Toomey retiring, the Pennsylvania Senate race could be Democrats’ best opening to overthrow a GOP seat. It is one of the few contests that can determine control of the Senate.
Republicans believe they will have significant political momentum next year – especially with President Joe Biden’s poll count declining. But for months, some have feared that none of their candidates will be up to the task, and the first brawls have compounded those fears.
PAC’s original Bartos-aligned TV spot largely focused on protection orders, and was scheduled to take place on Sept. 18, during the prime-time Penn State football game against Auburn. But it didn’t air, and a shorter version aired Monday night for viewers in the Philadelphia area, almost entirely omitting the controls, other than briefly showing an Inquirer headline about them.
Parnell’s team said the changes came after disputing the original location as inaccurate, although they declined to say what was incorrect. A spokesperson for the Super PAC, allied with Bartos, noted that the original ad was still live and said they had made a “strategic decision” to use a shorter version that aired on Monday, which focused on Parnell’s comments on camera and got them “more for their money.”
In this segment of 2019 on Fox Nation, Parnell said that “the idea that a woman can live a happy and fulfilled life without a man, I think it all makes no sense” and that “all the happy woman, happy life, did nothing. other than raising a generation of female tyrants after the Next. “
The comments without context in the ad were part of a show in which the hosts take controversial positions for comedic effect, Parnell tweeted last year when the comments have been reported by the Pittsburgh City Paper during his unsuccessful campaign to Congress in 2020. Parnell’s campaign noted that he called for equal treatment of boys and girls during another segment of the same show, when he criticized “Ms. Monopoly ”, a version of the game in which women earn more money than men.
Temporary protection orders made against him in 2017 and 2018 were withdrawn shortly after judges heard from Parnell and his wife, Laurie. These orders are initially issued in hearings involving only the accuser and not the accused. A judge withdrew the first after an agreement between the Parnells, and in the second, a judge denied Laurie Parnell’s request to make the order permanent, according to court documents provided by the Parnell campaign.
Bartos said even the temporary orders made Parnell “ineligible” in a competitive race. Another Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Carla Sands, echoed the criticism this week.
“Reports of Sean Parnell’s behavior are offensive, scandalous and disqualifying. Parnell cannot be trusted to win the general election or represent millions of women in Pennsylvania, ”said Joe Desilets.
READ MORE: Here are the candidates to replace Pat Toomey in the US Senate
A spokesperson for Parnell said they “expect this type of dishonesty from Democrats” but it is “shameful” from “alleged Republicans.”
“It’s pathetic that Sean’s political opponents knowingly smear him with desperate lies, all because they know their campaigns are in freefall,” spokesman Ian Prior said, adding that the attacks “hurt Sean’s young children ”.