One of the Republicans in the suit is congressional candidate Sean Parnell (R-Ohio Township) who lost his race against U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Mt. Lebanon) in Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional District in suburban Pittsburgh. Lamb won the race by more than 9,000 votes at a margin of 51%-49%. Ironically, Parnell is suing the commonwealth's mail-in voting law, even though he endorsed mail-in voting in April.
Parnell and other Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler), argue in the suit that Act. 77 is an illegal attempt to override limitations on absentee voting, and needed to go through a constitutional amendment first. It passed through the state House 138-61, with more support from Republicans than Democrats, and it passed the state Senate 30-20. If successful, the lawsuit would invalidate more than 2.6 million ballots.
In a tweet in April, Parnell praised the state's mail-in process. "PA already has a bipartisan system in place for early & mail in voting that can safeguard public health & protect the voting process. Use it!," tweeted Parnell on April 13.
In light of today’s filing: Here’s an April tweet from Sean Parnell touting Pennsylvania’s “bipartisan system in place for early & mail in voting”, referring to Act 77. https://t.co/10Pl7TRZMO— David Kaplan (@DKaplanWTAE) November 21, 2020
Parnell was attempting to criticize Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who was calling for all voters to utilize mail-in voting during the primary election, which was held early in the pandemic at a time when COVID cases were high.
Parnell is known for his loud and combative online presence, but it's unclear what point Parnell was trying to make against Fitzgerald. The county also shut down many voting precincts in the primary, so maybe Parnell was addressing that. Either way, he clearly indicated support for Pennsylvania mail-in voting back then, even if now he is joining a suit saying it's unconstitutional.
Lamb campaign manager Abby Nassif-Murphy issued this statement in response to Parnell's inclusion on the Republican lawsuit:
“Sean Parnell lost — decisively. He praised vote by mail in April, now wants millions of votes thrown out because he lost — decisively. He does what Trump tells him to do. His word means nothing, he believes in nothing, and this absurd lawsuit will amount to nothing. Because he lost — decisively, and he should start coming back to terms with that. He can embarrass himself with this nonsense as long as he wants, we honestly couldn’t care less.”
Either way, Pennsylvania political law expert Adam Bonin is skeptical of the lawsuit's chances, especially because the lawsuit says the remedy is to allow the GOP General Assembly to pick the electors for the presidential election. This is a notion state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) has rejected several times.
The newest GOP lawsuit in PA argues that PA Republicans acted unconstitutionally 13 months ago in creating "mail-in" voting, and the only proper remedy (2 elections later) is to throw out all mail-in ballots or let the GOP General Assembly pick a winner.🙄https://t.co/99C2H2iIDQ pic.twitter.com/apktnltvHT— Adam Bonin (@adambonin) November 21, 2020