After handily winning the Democratic primary nomination Tuesday for South Carolina's 5th Congressional district, Sumter native Archie Parnell says he wants people to look him in the eye and fairly assess him for the U.S. House of Representatives …
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After handily winning the Democratic primary nomination Tuesday for South Carolina's 5th Congressional district, Sumter native Archie Parnell says he wants people to look him in the eye and fairly assess him for the U.S. House of Representatives seat.
Parnell talked Thursday about regrouping his campaign now after many leaders in his own party called for him to withdraw in recent weeks after revelations surfaced about his past domestic violence from decades ago.
Parnell took 60 percent of Tuesday's primary votes in a race against three political newcomers who were largely unknown in the district. The closest challenger, Sidney Moore of Rock Hill, earned 17.2 percent of the vote.
After The Post and Courier of Charleston obtained in May divorce records from 1973 in which Parnell's ex-wife accused the then-University of South Carolina student of beating her, Parnell admitted the revelations were true but also said he wouldn't drop out of the primary. He said quitting the race would send a negative message to anyone who has also made mistakes in his or her past.
After apologizing to the public, Parnell said Thursday he doesn't expect the public to overlook his past but that he hopes they will judge him on the man he is now.
"I don't think people will overlook it, and I don't think people should overlook it, and I certainly don't overlook it," Parnell said. "I have faced my past. I own my past. And I know what I did 45 years ago was wrong that night.
"But that was 45 years ago," Parnell said. "I asked for help, and I met Sarah. She and I have been married for 40 years, and we have two wonderful daughters. We're looking forward. I worked hard during my career, and I think I have the qualifications to do a good job."
He said his campaign during the next five months for the Nov. 6 general election against incumbent Republican Ralph Norman will be "a true grass-roots campaign."
"We are going to wear out a lot of shoe leather because we're going to go around all 11 counties in the 5th District and meet and talk to as many people as we can," Parnell said. "I think it's important for people to look me in the eye and make their assessment of who I am. That's our plan."
He maintains that the November election is about the people of the 5th District and the issues faced, which he said include the economy/jobs, making tax laws more fair, making schools safe, investing in public education and protecting the environment.
He said he's talking with people and will fill the two positions of staff members who left his campaign a few weeks ago after the domestic violence revelations.
Parnell noted that in the special election last year against Norman - which he lost by three percentage points - there were 100 days between candidate registration and the actual election. He said he learned a lot in that election and also from this primary.
"We are regrouping," he said, "and we're going to be stronger than before."
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