Republican candidate Sean Parnell wants to flip the 17th Congressional district from blue to red in November, and among the new supporters he's attracted in the district, one name stands out: his own. When Parnell kicked off his campaign against incumbent Democrat Conor Lamb last fall, he lived just a few miles outside the district lines, making him unable to vote in the 17th.
“I live in Cranberry Township, split in half in 2018 by the court that redrew districts, putting much of my community into the new 17th,” Parnell tweeted last October, after WESA asked about his residency status. “I am running to represent the 17th district; my home is 2 miles outside the line drawn by the court.”
But within a few months, Parnell moved from Cranberry Township to Allegheny County. The election petitions he filed with the state in February reflect a new Ohio Township address: He changed his voter registration to that location in January.
“The landlord was slated to increase the rent significantly if he renewed,” said campaign manager Andrew Brey. “So he decided against renewing and moved to Ohio Township.”
Parnell does not appear to have purchased the four-bedroom home: County records show the property is still listed under a separate owner. Brey did not respond to a follow-up question that asked whether Parnell was renting. But the new residence is well within the district boundaries: The 17th district largely consists of Allegheny County suburbs and Beaver County.
Legally, Parnell didn't have to move: While the Constitution mandates that candidates running for Congress must live in the state they represent, it does not require them to live in the district itself. And Pennsylvania's 2018 redistricting, carried out by the state Supreme Court, shifted the ground beneath many candidates' feet.
But living outside the district can have a political downside, and Parnell's relocation means that when his name appears on the primary ballot this spring, he will be identified as a candidate from Allegheny County, instead of Butler County.
Parnell’s campaign was first publicly disclosed by President Trump on a White House visit to Pittsburgh in October. The 38-year-old Republican is an Army veteran, author, and Fox News contributor.
Democratic incumbent Conor Lamb lives in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon.