PITTSBURGH (KDKA)– After announcing his candidacy for Congress on Fox & Friends in New York, Sean Parnell made his first appearance in Pittsburgh at an Allegheny County Republican fund-raising event at the William Penn Hotel.

“It is an absolutely great day to be a Republican in the great state of Pennsylvania, is it not?” said Parnell to great cheers from the crowd.

Parnell, a Cranberry Republican, is taking on incumbent Democrat Conor Lamb in a district that stretches through much of Allegheny County and all of Beaver County.

This could be a battle between a former Army Ranger and a former Marine.

Parnell, a combat veteran with a purple heart for injuries in battle in Afghanistan, is taking on Lamb, a former Marine and federal prosecutor.

After a shout-out from President Trump in Pittsburgh on his potential candidacy, Parnell told KDKA political editor Jon Delano that he had no choice but to announce now.

“I’ve never met the President. I’ve never talked to the President. I have no idea how he learned about my name or where he found out about me. I have no idea,” Parnell insisted.

“But, you know, I just didn’t think I could ignore that call of duty from the President.”

Parnell clearly identifies with Trump and sees the 2020 election as a fight between freedom and socialism.

Delano: “Do you think that Conor Lamb represents socialism?”

Parnell: “I do. I mean his party and his candidates embrace socialism. The Democratic Party is no longer the party of the American middle class or the American working class. They are no longer the party of unions.”

“The Democratic Party at every level, at every candidate on stage, embraces wholesale socialism, and Conor Lamb is a part of that whether he likes it or not,” adds Parnell.

Parnell also accuses Lamb of pretending to be a moderate when he votes 98 percent of the time with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

KDKA reached out to Lamb for comment — but none so far.

But Lamb has emailed his supporters this week, asking for campaign contributions in what everyone now expects will be a multi-million dollar race in this region.