South Carolina Dem, Once a Party Hero, Refuses to Leave Race After Abuse Charges Surface

Posted: May 22, 2018 1:45 PM
South Carolina Dem, Once a Party Hero, Refuses to Leave Race After Abuse Charges Surface

Archie Parnell is a Democratic candidate in South Carolina's 5th Congressional District to defeat Republican incumbent Ralph Norman. The party is urging him to withdraw, however, after new domestic violence reports have surfaced. Court records reveal that Parnell physically abused his former wife in the 1970s.

In October 1973, Archie Parnell, then a University of South Carolina student, was locked out of some friends' apartment to protect Kathleen Parnell, who was staying there. At 2 a.m., Archie Parnell used a tire iron to break a glass door, the complaint said. He made more unspecified accusations to Kathleen Parnell before striking her several times. She said she was beaten again later that evening.

After the "acts of physical cruelty," Kathleen Parnell said she feared for her life and did not want to stay married. She obtained a restraining order against Archie Parnell after seeking the divorce, according to court documents. The divorce was finalized in early 1974. (The Post and Courier)

Parnell did not deny his ex-wife's allegations, prompting several staffers to quit, Democrats rescinding their endorsements and party leaders demanding he step aside for the sake of the South Carolina seat. 

"His actions, though long ago, directly contradict the values of the Democratic Party," South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Trav Robertson said Monday.

But he's refusing.

“This campaign has always been about the people of the 5th district, my home, but never about me," Parnell said in a statement. "Forty five years ago, while still a college student, I did something that I have regretted every single day since. In response to actions I feel unnecessary to specify, I lashed out and became violent with other people, including my former wife, which led to a divorce and monumental change in my life.

"These actions were inexcusable, wrong and downright embarrassing," Parnell said. "Since then, my life has been changed by a remarkable woman, two amazing daughters, a forgiving God and a career that has taught me to cherish what I have."

Before Parnell's scandal came to light, his campaign was praised as "the best Democratic campaign of 2017." In a season of extreme partisanship, Parnell succeeded by staying positive and being self deprecating, Politico explained.

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"How did he do it? By staying out of the line of fire. He was positive. He was humble. And Republicans barely knew he was there."

Republicans faced a similar situation to the Parnell scandal in Alabama last year, when controversial candidate Roy Moore refused to bow out of the Senate race following his own decades old sexual assault allegations. Democrats ended up winning their first Senate seat in Alabama in 25 years.

(H/T America Rising PAC)