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The rise and rapid fall of a Trump-backed GOP Senate hopeful

On paper, Pennsylvania's Sean Parnell looked like a strong 2022 candidate. In reality, he's suspending his candidacy under a cloud of controversy.

On paper, Pennsylvania's Sean Parnell looked like a strong 2022 candidate. He's a decorated Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, a bestselling author, and a Republican who ran a competitive congressional race last fall, nearly defeating a popular Democratic incumbent.

With this in mind, as regular readers know, when Parnell launched a U.S. Senate campaign earlier this year, many GOP officials in Pennsylvania were delighted. When Donald Trump announced his support for Parnell, the former president assumed he was backing a likely winner. Other prominent Republicans quickly fell in line behind the candidate.

It wasn't long, however, before serious allegations jolted the campaign. As part of a custody battle, Parnell's estranged wife recently testified under oath that the Republican candidate choked her, hit their young children, and was both physically and verbally abusive. Yesterday, as NBC News reported, Parnell lost the custody fight — and soon after suspended his statewide campaign.

Sean Parnell, a candidate for the Senate in Pennsylvania who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, suspended his campaign after a judge ruled Monday in favor of his estranged wife in a court fight over custody of their three children.

Though the Republican has repeatedly denied the allegations raised by his estranged wife, and did so again yesterday, Parnell added that he "can't continue with a Senate campaign" in light of his family difficulties.

He reportedly gave Trump a heads-up before alerting the public to his decision.

This clearly wasn't the news Republicans wanted to see, but the developments aren't completely disastrous for the GOP. The allegations surrounding Parnell made his candidacy unsustainable, but he exits the campaign trail with plenty of time for the party to find an alternative.

The trouble is, Republicans in the Keystone State don't appear to have a Plan B. NBC News' report pointed to some of Parnell's primary rivals, several of whom have tried and failed to win elected office in the commonwealth.

Of course, with Parnell suspending his candidacy, other Republicans are likely to throw their hats into the ring — and that includes Dr. Mehmet Oz, a controversial television personality known as "Dr. Oz," who's reportedly been considering a Senate campaign for weeks.

Politico reported late last week that Oz is gearing up to hire a campaign staff, while also looking to establish residency in the state, since he does not live or own property in Pennsylvania.