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Trump's Backing Of Sean Parnell Lands Early In Wide-Open US Senate Race

Election 2020-Pennsylvania-Key House Races
Keith Srakocic
In this file photo from June 12, 2020, Republican candidate for Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional District, Sean Parnell sits with Vice President Mike Pence, in Springdale, Pa. Parnell is looking to unseat Democrat Conor Lamb.

The most sought after endorsement in Pennsylvania's wide-open Republican primary for U.S. Senate went early to Sean Parnell, but the backing of former President Donald Trump isn't clearing the field for Parnell and it's yet to be seen what sort of help it will provide.

Trump's endorsement, issued in a statement Wednesday afternoon, came early in the race, nearly nine months before next May's primary in what is expected to be one of the nation’s most competitive Senate contests in next year’s election.

No independent poll has emerged that shows Parnell — or any of the Republican candidates — have established substantial name recognition with voters. Polling shows no clear leader in the GOP field and Parnell's fundraising numbers through June 30 were uninspiring.

It will give Parnell some momentum, said York County Republican Party chairman Jeff Piccola.

But, Piccola said, “the endorsement is one thing. It'll be interesting to see if the president comes into campaign for him, helps to raise money for him. Those are all questions for the future.”

Sam DeMarco, the Allegheny County Republican Party chairman, said the endorsement is meaningful because of the former president's loyal following among GOP voters and “takes a section of the electorate off the table” for Parnell's rivals.

Pennsylvania's Senate seat is opening up with the retirement in 2023 of two-term Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.