Front-Runner In Key Dem Primary Refuses To Drop Out Over Wife-Beating Accusations

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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South Carolina Democratic hopeful Archie Parnell is refusing to leave his congressional race despite the publication of court records showing that he abused his ex-wife in 1973. “This campaign has always been about the people of the 5th district — my home — but never about me,” Parnell said in a statement.

The Post and Courier’s Jamie Lovegrove broke the story on Monday, but the alleged incident took place in 1973 when Parnell was a student at University of South Carolina. Parnell’s then-wife Kathleen (maiden name Hudnall) was staying at a friend’s house because he had made “unwarranted accusations” against her, and Parnell had been locked out in order to ensure her safety.

Parnell was able to get into the house, however, using a tire iron to break in.

From the court documents:

On October 21, 1973, at about 2:00 o’clock A.M., (Parnell), while he and (Hudnall) were at the apartment of some friends, did force his way back into the said apartment by breaking out the glass door with a tire iron, after being locked out for the protection of (Hudnall) and did, by force … repeatedly strike (Hudnall) with such force as to cause her acute physical injury.

Hudnall refused to live with Parnell after that incident, and their divorce was finalized in 1974.

Parnell released a statement in which he admitted culpability and claimed that he had learned his lesson. “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. These actions were inexcusable, wrong and downright embarrassing. 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.”

Multiple members of Parnell’s campaign have left over the revelation, and South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson has called for him to drop out of the race.

Parnell had previously won the 2017 Democratic primary in the special election to replace budget director Mick Mulvaney and came close to flipping the district in that race.