Sean Parnell was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the grandson of a lifelong union Democrat. In 2006, he was deployed to Afghanistan while serving in the military during the Afghanistan War. In 2010, he and his platoon fought off hundreds of Taliban who attempted to capture a hill held by Parnell's platoon, and Parnell was wounded in the process. He returned home after 485 days of combat, and he became an active Republican after becoming disillusioned with the Democratic Party's leftward shift. In 2020, he ran for the US House of Representatives in PA-17, running against Democratic incumbent Conor Lamb. On 24 August 2020, he spoke at the Republican National Convention, where he criticized the Democrats as the "party of hedge fund managers, Hollywood celebrities, tech moguls, and university professors all gloated with contempt for Middle America", claimed that the Democrats sought to "destroy anyone who they deem a heretic", and also appealed to traditional Democrats who were "disillusioned with how radical (their) party has become", telling them that, "in our tent, you are free...free to speak the truth, choose your journey, define your life..." He went on to lose the general election with 48.9% of the vote to Lamb's 51.1%. However, on 7 April 2021, he announced his candidacy for the 2022 US Senate election in Pennsylvania. On 22 November 2021, he suspended his candidacy after a judge awarded his estranged wife primary physical custody and sole legal custody of the couple's three children upon determining that Parnell had abused his wife in the past.