Politics

Campaign Staff for Archie Parnell Quit After Candidate’s Past Abuse Revelations

South Carolina Democrat is running for the 5th District

South Carolina Democrat Archie Parnell says he will remain in the 5th District race despite revelations that he physically abused his ex-wife in the 1970s. (Simone Pathé/CQ Roll Call file photo)

South Carolina Democrat Archie Parnell physically abused his former wife in the 1970s, according to court documents unearthed by his campaign and obtained by The (Charleston) Post and Courier.

Parnell’s campaign manager and his finance manager have quit, according to a source close to the campaign.

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, who campaigned with Parnell during the special election for South Carolina’s 5th District last year, rescinded his endorsement of Parnell on Monday night. 

South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson has called on Parnell to step aside. 

But Parnell is refusing to drop out of the race, which he came close to winning last year against Republican Ralph Norman.

“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 the Charleston newspaper. 

“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,” Parnell said.

“These actions were inexcusable, wrong and downright embarrassing,” he added. “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.”

The incident occurred in 1973 when Parnell was a student at the University of South Carolina. Parnell allegedly tried to break through the door of an apartment to get to his ex-wife and later beat her. He has not denied the allegations.

During the special election, DNC Chairman Tom Perez and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, an erstwhile and potential future presidential candidate, campaigned for Parnell. South Carolina Rep. James E. Clyburn, the assistant Democratic leader, has been a adviser to Parnell, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi donated to the campaign last year.

Occurring on the same day as last year's competitive special election in Georgia's 6th District, the special election to fill Mick Mulvaney's seat in South Carolina attracted far less national attention and investment. A lower-profile election resulted in lower GOP turnout, and Parnell finished just 3 points behind Norman in a district President Donald Trump carried by 19 points in 2016.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added the 5th District to its target list for 2018, but with Parnell tarnished, it'll be much harder to take the seat. Three other Democrats are competing in the June 12 Democratic primary to take on Norman, but none of them have anywhere near the resources of Parnell, a former Goldman Sachs adviser. Even if he withdraws, Parnell’s name will still appear on the primary ballot, the Post and Courier reported. 

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Republican.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.