South Carolina Democratic congressional candidate Archie Parnell confirmed Wednesday he will continue with his bid even as party officials across the state have revoked their support after divorce records came to light revealing he physically beat his ex-wife in 1973.
In a video posted to his campaign Facebook page, Parnell apologized to voters but said he has concluded he should stay in the race.
"If I withdraw, I would be telling anyone who makes a terrible mistake that that one terrible mistake will define them for the rest of their lives," Parnell said.
"It is the voters of the 5th District who should decide the outcome of this election and not me or certain Democratic Party officers. We all have the capacity to change and be better," he said in the video.
The primary is Tuesday.
Parnell, a Sumter resident who spent decades working for Goldman Sachs, has not talked to the media since The Post and Courier first revealed his divorce records weeks ago. He was not available for additional comment beyond the video Wednesday.
The only public appearance he has made was at a Democratic breakfast in his hometown of Sumter where he briefly apologized.
According to the 1973 divorce records, Parnell's then-wife, Kathleen Parnell, accused him of beating her multiple times, including one night in which he used a tire iron to break into an apartment where friends were shielding her from him.
The revelation has fractured Democrats in the Republican-leaning district that would have been difficult to win even if all had gone according to plan. Many supporters have pleaded with Parnell to drop out but others have passionately defended him and insist he should be forgiven.
Parnell said he has heard from "loud voices on both sides" of the debate about whether he should continue running.
He was seen as the overwhelming favorite to take on Republican incumbent Ralph Norman in the 5th District, which stretches from Sumter to Rock Hill.
After most of his staff quit the campaign in protest when he refused to drop out, Parnell is now running with a barebones operation despite holding more than $375,000 in his campaign account — more than any other congressional challenger in the state.
Irate ex-staffers, who did not learn about the divorce records until they heard rumors that Republican operatives had been digging into them, took down Parnell's campaign website, archieparnell.com, and it has still not been reinstated.
State and national Democratic operatives told The Post and Courier on Wednesday they were not swayed by the video and they will never revive their support for Parnell, even if he wins the party's nomination.
Nonpartisan analysts have wiped the district off the map of competitive elections, indicating Norman's victory has been elevated to a foregone conclusion.
Due to low name recognition for Parnell's three primary challengers — Mark Ali, Steve Lough and Sidney Moore — he may still come out on top in the party primary. But he will be a drastically weaker nominee than he was once considered to be.
Republicans, initially fearful that Norman could be vulnerable to a well-funded challenger in November, have breathed a sigh of relief and turned their attention elsewhere.