COLUMBIA, S.C. – Democrats’ chances of flipping a Republican seat in South Carolina’s historically red 5th District took a major hit after court documents emerged Monday saying candidate Archie Parnell abused his ex-wife in the 1970's.
The stunning revelation has swiftly led to calls from his own party for the Democratic congressional candidate to withdraw from the race.
“This is truly a sad situation," DNC Associate Chairman Jaime Harrison said on Twitter, urging Parnell to withdraw. “The publicity today must be devastating for his former wife & his current family.”
The court documents detailing the abuse pertain to divorce records and were first obtained by The Post and Courier.
“The Plaintiff is informed and believes that she is entitled to an absolute divorce on the ground of physical cruelty,” the documents state.
They say that on an October morning in 1973, Parnell's wife Kathleen was with friends at an apartment when Parnell, then a college student, “force(d) his way into the said apartment by breaking out the glass door with a tire iron, after being locked out for the protection of the plaintiff.”
The records go on to describe Parnell entering the apartment and repeatedly striking his wife, causing an “acute physical injury.”
'The contents of the court documents were chilling.'
Later that night, Kathleen was allegedly beaten again.
She later filed a restraining order against her husband until their divorce was finalized in 1974.
The records say “the relationship of both parties deteriorated by reason of certain difficulties and differences caused by the defendants unwarranted accusations against the Plaintiff.”
Even Parnell's former campaign staffers have turned on him since the documents' release.
“He should drop out immediately,” said John Kraljevich, Parnell’s social media director until March, when he resigned to run for the state House.
Parnell’s campaign manager, Yates Barody, said she saw the documents Thursday and formally resigned after finding out about the candidate’s past.
“The contents of the court documents were chilling, and once I saw them, I knew Archie was not someone I could continue to support personally or professionally,” Barody told Fox News.
South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson also said in a statement: “In light of this sad revelation, Archie Parnell has no choice but to withdraw from the race for the 5th Congressional District. His actions, though long ago, directly contradict the values of the Democratic Party.”
Parnell did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Parnell faces three other Democrats in the June 12 primary and, until now, had been considered the favorite, after losing to Republican incumbent Rep. Ralph Norman during last year’s congressional special election by less than 3 percentage points.