Last week, South Carolina state Sen. Jake Knotts (R) came under fire for calling President Obama and Nikki Haley, his party’s nominee for governor, “a raghead.” The South Carolina Republican party condemned Knotts’ comments immediately after he made them last Thursday. And last night, the Republican Party of Lexington County — where both Knotts and Haley live — voted to officially censure him. In 25-7 vote, the party voted to “condemn, censure and ask for the resignation” of Knotts. Despite the overwhelming vote, some party members defended Knotts, who was not present:
In the original resolution, it called for Knotts to be kicked out of the Lexington County GOP, but they decided to remove that wording.
During the meeting, people spoke up for and against Knotts.
“I actually thought the apology was just as bad, the attempt at the apology was just as bad as the original remark,” said Joshua Gross.
“I do not feel like we should be divisive and sew more discord by doing something so ugly as to censure him,” said Tommy Blonk.
Lexington County GOP Chairman Rich Bolen said before the vote that Knotts’ comments “lended credence to the idea that South Carolinians are redneck, backward, Neanderthals, and we obviously don’t want that to be our image across the country.”
Meanwhile, the chairman of the powerful Greenville County Republican Party called for Knotts to be “expelled from the party.” “I cannot sit idly by and watch our Party be torn apart by Senator Jake Knotts’ bigotry,” Patrick Haddon said in a statement. Even Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), an ally of Knotts who infamously shouted “you lie” to President Obama during an address to Congress, condemned Knotts, saying, “I was hurt and disgusted to hear Senator Jake Knotts direct such offensive slurs at a community which is very close to me.”
In response to the censure, Knotts said he “could care less” and would not resign. In a separate interview, he said the censure was “all politics,” and warned that libertarians had “infiltrated” the party. He said he had not called Haley to personally apologize, and that the “press has given Nikki Haley a free ride.” When a reporter asked where the press had failed to hold her accountable, Knotts said, “have you ever asked her if she believes in Jesus Christ as her lord and savior and that he died on the cross for her sins? Have you ever asked her that?”