Republican lawmaker withdraws from state senate after Trump comments

This article is over 5 months old State senator, who is currently in talks to support Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, bails out after debate tweets help Dems Pennsylvania state senator Sean Parnell has withdrawn…

Republican lawmaker withdraws from state senate after Trump comments

This article is over 5 months old

State senator, who is currently in talks to support Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, bails out after debate tweets help Dems

Pennsylvania state senator Sean Parnell has withdrawn his campaign for a seat in the state’s senate after entering a race as a Donald Trump supporter.

Parnell, who recently took on a leadership role with the party and was considered a safe Republican candidate, said he chose to remove himself from the race after a controversial debate exchange on Wednesday when he compared Mike Pence to American Indians in Native American dress.

“I will stay true to my convictions, but believe that the time has come to uphold a higher calling,” Parnell, who is also a former US national champion wrestler, said in a statement on Thursday night.

Parnell did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Pennsylvania Republican party did not immediately return a request for comment.

On Wednesday night during a Pennsylvania senatorial debate, Parnell, a congresswoman Susan Wild and state attorney general Josh Shapiro, who is running to be the Democrat candidate, were arguing over whether the state should take in or reject federal funding for areas hit by Hurricane Maria.

Parnell, who said he was talking about freeing up money for rebuilding Puerto Rico from the natural disaster, mistakenly referred to Pence as an Indian and Wild as an Indian princess.

“Well, here’s what I’m going to do. Here’s what the governor’s office did,” Parnell said. “They came up with a plan: 5.5% – 5.5% reimbursement in 2020 and 2021, so put it down as $7bn. If we could raise that $7bn through increased oil and gas taxes in this state, I promise you this: in the next 10 years it will be 1.5% and we can put that money to use that is going to help us with mass transit, infrastructure, education and healthcare.”

The Democrats replied: “That’s all right. That’s what my mom and dad would call Indian fancy. Indian fancy.”

Parnell responded, calling Mike Pence “an Indian in this costume” and that Wild was “an Indian princess in this dress.”

Shapiro then asked the senator to apologize.

“No. I would like to retract that statement,” Parnell said. “But as you know, sir, some have defended me by saying, well, that isn’t the image that the United States has to portray to the world when we go and are our fighting in battles overseas in Afghanistan.

“That’s a sensitive issue.

“I believe that we really have to be mindful of the way that we represent what we believe in, not only as individuals but as a country,” he said.

Parnell, who is the chairman of the GOP Senate’s elections committee, was elected to the state senate in 2014 after serving three terms in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

He was one of two Republican state senators, the other from Luzerne County, who backed Trump in the presidential primary.

Parnell previously made headlines when he told the Washington Post that there was a lack of opportunity for Christians in the US and that he supports same-sex marriage, though he opposes laws banning it.

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