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The Republican in charge of attempts to win back the Senate was asked to give an opinion about a candidate in Pennsylvania who is both accused of strangling his wife and endorsed by Donald Trump. The senator chose not to do so.

Rick Scott.

Rick Scott. Photograph: Caroline Brehman/EPA

The Pennsylvania contest is shaping up to be a key battle in the 2022 midterms. Republican control of either chamber of Congress would cripple Joe Biden’s domestic plans. Success in the Senate would let the GOP block any supreme court pick.

Trump’s endorsement carries huge weight. The Trump-endorsed candidate for the nomination to succeed the retiring Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania is Sean Parnell, an army veteran and conservative commentator.

Parnell’s estranged wife recently testified that he choked her until she bit him, hit their young child and called her a “whore” and a “piece of shit” while pinning her down. Parnell denied the claims, also under oath.

The chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rick Scott of Florida, spoke to CNN on Monday.

“You are head of the NRSC, charged with getting Republicans elected to the Senate,” host Brianna Keilar said. “Sean Parnell is facing allegations from his wife he strangled her and abused one of their small children. Is he still the right candidate?”

“As you know,” Scott said, “we have Republican and Democrat primaries across the country and in Pennsylvania … both Republicans and Democrats have primaries, and so we’ll see who comes out of the primary. Facts will come out, we’ll find out what people think.

“I think what ultimately happens is people are going to look at somebody’s background and say is that the type of person they want and also are they talking about the issues I care about.”

Pressed, Scott said: “I’m not supporting or opposing people in primary.

“I’m the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. I’m going to help our incumbents, help our Republicans who get through the primaries, that’s what my focus is. The voters of each of the states will decide who the right candidates on the Republican and Democrat side are.”

Politico has reported that Donald Trump Jr pressed his father to endorse Parnell, in a process without sufficient vetting.

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