Former GOP Rep. Keith Rothfus eyeing Pennsylvania Senate race

Former Rep. Keith RothfusKeith James RothfusGOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud Former GOP Rep. Keith Rothfus eyeing Pennsylvania Senate race MORE (R-Pa.) is weighing a bid for retiring Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyConservatives are outraged that Sarah Bloom Raskin actually believes in capitalism Meet Washington's most ineffective senator: Joe Manchin Black women look to build upon gains in coming elections MORE’s (R-Pa.) seat next year. 

Rothfus, who lost reelection in 2018 after court-ordered redistricting put him in contention with fellow Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), told NBC News that he is “exploring if there is a path into this race, particularly for someone who has represented Western Pennsylvania in the past.” 

“The question is: What is the path to this?" Rothfus said. “I’m taking a close look at it and I’ve been on the phone a lot.”

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If Rothfus jumps into the Senate race in Pennsylvania, he would add to an already-crowded Republican primary field that grew even bigger on Tuesday with the entrance of celebrity physician Mehmet Oz. 

More than half a dozen other Republicans are also seeking the GOP nomination to succeed Toomey, including real estate developer Jeff Bartos and former Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands. 

The Senate race in Pennsylvania is among the most competitive of the 2022 midterm election cycle. Given Toomey’s retirement plans, Democrats see the seat as one of their best opportunities to expand their razor-thin Senate majority, while Republicans are eager to hold onto it as they look to retake control of the upper chamber.

The GOP primary field was thrown into flux last week after Sean Parnell, who had been endorsed by former President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE, suspended his campaign after a judge granted his estranged wife primary physician and sole legal custody of their three children. 

Before that, Parnell had faced months of damaging headlines, including allegations that he had physically and verbally abused his wife and children. He has forcefully denied those allegations.

While Parnell had been seen as the likely frontrunner in the Republican Senate primary, his exit from the race leaves the GOP nominating contest wide open, giving potential new entrants like Rothfus a possible path to victory in the primary.