COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The head of the South Carolina Democratic Party is asking one of its leading U.S. House candidates to withdraw from the race after his ex-wife said he beat her according to their 1973 divorce records.
Archie Parnell did not deny the allegations unearthed in records by The Post and Courier of Charleston , calling his behavior "inexcusable, wrong and downright embarrassing" and said he has regretted it every day since.
Parnell also resisted calls to get out of the race. He is a heavy favorite to win the Democratic nomination on June 12 for the 5th District and end up in a rematch with U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, a Republican he lost to be only three percentage points in a special election last June in the heavily Republican district.
The 1973 divorce papers said Parnell was locked out of an apartment by people trying to protect his then wife. Parnell shattered a glass door with a tire iron, then beat his wife of two years, according to the documents obtained by the newspaper.
Parnell's wife said she feared for her life and obtained a restraining order and the couple's divorce was finalized the next year, according to the documents.
"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 told the newspaper.
"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," Parnell said.
Several Democratic leaders acknowledged Parnell's efforts to change his life, but said there are some things that can't be accepted. Several staffers have also left the campaign after the divorce filing began circulating.
"His actions, though long ago, directly contradict the values of the Democratic Party," state Democratic Party chairman Trav Robertson said in a statement asking Parnell to drop out of the race.
The other three Democrats in the 5th District race are political unknowns: Suriname immigrant Mark Ali, former York County councilman Sidney Moore and Steven Lough. Lough is emphasizing his day job as a professional clown and is campaigning with the slogan "Aim high! Vote Lough!"
Parnell is a former Goldman Sachs tax adviser whose campaign has spent $1.2 million since the beginning of 2017 and had $415,000 in the bank at the start of April in his campaign to win the U.S. House seat. Those numbers are comparable to the incumbent Norman as he seeks re-election in the district which voted 57 percent for President Donald Trump in 2016.
Norman faced his own criticism last month when he pulled out his loaded handgun during a meeting with constituents to make a point about gun safety.
The 5th District is anchored by suburbs south of Charlotte, North Carolina, but includes a wide swath of South Carolina from just east of Spartanburg to Sumter.
Information from: The Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com
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