A South Carolina Democrat who has admitted to physically abusing his former wife in the 1970s has refused to drop out of next month’s congressional primary despite a call from his state’s Democratic Party to do so and the resignation of his campaign manager.
The Post and Courier of Charleston reported Monday that Archie Parnell, one of four Democrats running for the right to challenge GOP Rep. Ralph Norman in South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, admitted to physically abusing his ex-wife in 1973 after he was confronted with divorce records that detailed the allegations. Parnell used a tire iron to break the window of an apartment where friends of his then-wife were protecting her from him, records show, after which he struck her several times and then beat her again later in the evening.
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“This campaign has always been about the people of the 5th district, my home, but never about me,” he 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.”
In his statement, Parnell called his actions “inexcusable, wrong and downright embarrassing,” but added that “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.”
Yates Baroody, Parnell’s former campaign manager, confirmed Tuesday morning that she resigned Friday over the revelations contained in his divorce records.
Calls for Parnell to leave the race have mounted. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) rescinded his endorsement of Parnell, and South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson said in a statement that Parnell “has no choice but to withdraw from the race for the 5th Congressional District” and that “his actions, though long ago, directly contradict the values of the Democratic Party.”
Parnell is roughly a year removed from a closer-than-expected loss against Norman in last year’s special election, held to fill the 5th District seat vacated by Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. The other three candidates running in the June 12 Democratic primary, according to The State, are Steven Lough, who is a former professional clown, Mark Ali and Sidney Moore.