State Politics

After domestic violence reports from 1970s emerge, Democrats tell Parnell to drop out

Archie Parnell's campaign to unseat Ralph Norman in South Carolina's 5th Congressional District might have suffered a devastating blow Monday.

It was revealed that the Sumter Democrat physically abused his former wife in the 1970s, prompting key members of his campaign to quit, many prominent supporters to rescind their endorsements and his party to ask him to withdraw from the race.

Divorce records show that Parnell's ex-wife, Kathleen Parnell, accused Parnell of beating her in October 1973, calling it "acts of physical cruelty," which she said caused her to fear for her life. She obtained a restraining order against Parnell, according to postandcourier.com, which reported their divorce was finalized in early 1974.

In the fallout of that revelation, Parnell’s campaign manager, Yates Baroody, quit the campaign, according to rollcall.com.

Others also looked to distance themsleves from Parnell.

"In light of this sad revelation, Archie Parnell has no choice but to withdraw from the race for the 5th Congressional District," South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson said in a news release. "His actions, though long ago, directly contradict the values of the Democratic Party.”

Robertson's predecessor, Jamie Harrison, echoed those sentiments.

"This is truly a sad situation. ... (I) believe that Archie should withdraw from the race," Harrison posted on Twitter. "The publicity today must be devastating for his former wife & his current family. Prayers to them."

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan rescinded his endorsement of Parnell, according to rollcall.com.

S.C. attorney and CNN political pundit Bakari Sellers also confirmed he withdrew his endorsement on Twitter.

But will Parnell quit? He did not on Monday.

In spite of everything, Parnell refused to drop out of the race.

“This campaign has always been about the people of the 5th district, my home, but never about me," Parnell said in a statement, according to postandcourier.com. "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."

Three other Democrats are running against Parnell in the June 12 primary, but he was considered the favorite to win the nomination. That's because Norman won a surprisingly close 3-point victory over Parnell in a 2017 special election to replace Mick Mulvaney who joined the Donald Trump administration.

The other Democrats in the primary include Steven Lough, a professional clown, Mark Ali and Sidney Moore.

The 5th District is centered on York County and includes Charlotte's southern suburbs in the north-central part of South Carolina. It also reaches down to the Midlands to include part or all of Fairfield, Kershaw, Newberry and Sumter counties.

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