COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina Democratic Party leaders are pushing Congressional candidate Archie Parnell to drop out of the race after documents unearthed by his own campaign showed his first marriage collapsed under the weight of physical abuse allegations.
Parnell, who had a surprisingly robust showing against Rep. Ralph Norman during the special election to replace White House budget director Mick Mulvaney in 2017, is being asked to leave the race.
State Democratic Party leader Trav Robertson released a statement over the weekend pressing Parnell to quit.
"In light of this sad revelation, Archie Parnell has no choice but to withdraw from the race for the 5th Congressional District," Robertson said. "His actions, though long ago, directly contradict the values of the Democratic Party."
Documents detailing Parnell's 1973 divorce from his first wife, Kathleen Parnell, speak of an Oct. 21, 1973 incident where, according to the documents, Archie forced himself into an apartment where Kathleen was staying.
He, the documents said, forced his way in by breaking a glass door with a tire iron and then repeatedly struck Kathleen "with such force as to cause her acute physical injury."
Those documents also forced at least one member of Parnell's senior campaign staff to resign Friday.
"The contents of the divorce records were disturbing and left no question in my mind that Archie needed to immediately withdraw from the race," former Parnell campaign director Yates Baroody said. "They also left no question in my mind that I needed to withdraw from the race."
As people are calling for Parnell to withdraw from the race, Democratic Candidate Steve Lough added to the group, encouraging Parnell to withdraw. Lough says he was saddened to hear of the divorce document. He compared those running on the democratic ticket to a football team.
"(Former USC Gamecocks football coach) Steve Spurrier looked right at the camera and said 'hey, it's pretty easy for me. You hit a girl, you're off the team,'" Lough commented, adding, "maybe one person is not as important as the team."
Lough says domestic violence is bad, but it's the appearance of a cover-up that concerns him most. Lough is a former Ringling Brothers clown.
"I was a clown. I'm proud of what I was," Lough gleamed, "everybody, be upfront with what you are and we can deal with that. The timing, you know... if this had been in the early eighties, maybe it wouldn't have been as big of a deal. But you know, society has kind of progressed a little bit," Lough said of Parnell's domestic violence accusations.
In general, of people running for office or serving in office and facing abuse allegations, Lough added, "it depends on if they were always honest about it and people always knew about it from the beginning of time. It depends on if they stayed together and this was an amicable kind of thing…every situation is different, and that's what we need to look at, too."
Rep. James Smith, who is one of three people seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, has also called upon Parnell to drop out.
Fellow Democratic nominee Marguerite Willis also asked him to leave the race.
WIS-TV's Ashleigh Holland reached out to Archie Parnell on Tuesday, through phone calls, messages, and knocked on his door at his Sumter home. However, no calls or messages were returned for a statement or response to the allegations or answers as to whether he will withdraw. The only response to Holland's ringing his doorbell was a slammed window shutter from someone inside.