Senate GOP campaign chief dodges when asked if Parnell is right candidate for job

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) is seen during a press conference after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.
Greg Nash

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the head of the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, dodged questions over whether Pennsylvania Republican Sean Parnell is “the right candidate” in the state’s marquee Senate race.

The maneuvering by Scott, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) comes as Parnell, who has the endorsement of former President Trump, faces increased scrutiny from some Republicans after his estranged wife said in court that Parnell strangled her and hit their children.

“Well, we have, as you know, we both have Republican and Democrat primaries across the country, and in Pennsylvania, we have — Both the Republicans and Democrats have primaries, so we’ll see who comes out in the primary. Facts will come out, we’ll find out exactly what people will think,” Scott said Monday on CNN when asked about Parnell. “I think what ultimately happens is people are going to look at some of these backgrounds, say is that the type of person they want and also ‘are they talking about the issues that I care about?’”

“I’m not supporting or opposing people in primaries,” Scott added when pressed. “I’m going to help our incumbents but help our Republicans get through the primary. That’s what my focus is. The voters of each of the states will decide who the right candidate on the Republican and Democrat side are.”

Parnell is running in a top Senate race that could decide control of the upper chamber. He’s hinged much of his campaign on his endorsement from Trump, who announced his backing for Parnell back in early September. 

The Republican candidate was first hit with criticism after it was revealed that Parnell’s estranged wife sought protective orders. That controversy exploded earlier this month after she testified that Parnell hit their children and once kicked her out of the car and left her by the road after an argument.

She also testified that her husband attempted to choke her and that she hit him to get free. 

While Scott’s remarks abide by NRSC policy to not get involved in open primaries, his comments mark a shift from last month when he told reporters that Parnell — and other candidates Trump had endorsed — could win. 

“If you look at who he’s endorsed, he’s endorsed Sean Parnell, [Ted] Budd, Herschel [Walker], Mo Brooks, [Kelly] Tshibaka in Alaska … I think all those candidates can win,” he said. 

Parnell’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Tags Donald Trump Mo Brooks Pennsylvania Senate race Rick Scott Sean Parnell

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