Local GOP demands Knotts' resignation

The Sun News- June 17, 2010
By Aliana Ramos

The Georgetown County Republican party is the latest group to call for the resignation of Sen. Jake Knotts, R-Lexington, over a racial slur the senator made on an Internet political show.

Knotts referred to President Obama and Rep. Nikki Haley, a GOP gubernatorial candidate, as "ragheads" about a week before the Republican primaries on the Internet show Pub Politics.

"Senator Knotts' racial epithets have brought shame and disgrace upon himself, his office, the State of South Carolina, and the Republican Party," the resolution stated.

The measure was passed unanimously by the local executive committee, said Chairman Tom Swatzel.

"To sit silently and let a state senator get away with racially charged slurs is not something the county or the state party should do," Swatzel said.

Swatzel said Knotts' comment has hurt the GOP's efforts to bring diversity to the party.

Knotts could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

"We've got a raghead in Washington; we don't need a raghead in the Statehouse," Knotts said on the show. He later apologized.

The term is a derogatory reference to people of Middle Eastern or Indian descent.

Haley, who is of Indian descent, will face a runoff election June 22 against Gresham Barrett, for a chance to run in November's general election in the South Carolina's governor's race.

Haley has not called for Knotts' resignation, said spokesman Tim Pearson, with Haley's campaign.

"She's said all along that no matter what distractions are thrown at her, she would stay focused on the movement to bring South Carolina's government back to the people - and she's stayed very true to that," Pearson said.

The executive committee of the Lexington County Republican Party also called for Knott's resignation after learning of his comments.

Knotts addressed the call for his resignation and the fallout from his comment on the Senate floor Tuesday.

"Recent remarks made by me and the different reactions in the aftermath have caused me some grief, a lot of soul searching, and some doubt about who I really am," he said.

But Knotts has declined to resign.

"If I thought by resigning it would stop the hypocrisy in politics, then I might consider it, but I won't. I am not resigning. I deeply regret the remarks I made and I have already apologized for them, before anyone asked me to.

"I am sorry that my disgusting remarks have offended some people. In these days and times, anything you say could possibly offend people. I am and will continue to be the Jakie Knotts that I have always been, correcting my mistakes to the point where I don't commit them again and being the least hypocritical member of this legislature."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.