A South Carolina lawmaker recently referred to a state Republican gubernatorial candidate of Indian descent and President Obama as “ragheads.”
State Sen. Jake Knotts (R) made the comment on an Internet talk show, “Pub Politics Live.” While speaking to Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley, Knotts said, “We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion.” The word is regarded as a slur aimed at people linked to the turban-wearing culture of the Middle East and Far East.
Knotts has apologized for the comments and begun damage control, but the furor over his comments may be too intense for him to continue his political career.
Haley, whose parents are Indian immigrants, said she is appalled by the comments. Her campaign manager, Tim Pearson, called Knotts an “embarrassment” to the Republican party in an email to WLTX 19 in Columbia, S.C.
Even stronger comments came from the head of the Greenville County Republican party. State Party Chairman Patrick Haddon wants Knotts removed from his position.
“I cannot sit idly by and watch our party be torn apart by Senator Jake Knotts’ bigotry,” Haddon said in a statement. “At the next state executive committee meeting, I will move for his expulsion from the South Carolina Republican Party. This is the harshest penalty the Party can impose, and it is more than justified in this situation.”
Knotts, however, has said that he will not resign from office and will seek re-election this year.
“No, I’m not going to resign and they can say what they want to,” Knotts said. “I made a mistake and I immediately recognized it. I apologized immediately.”
Knotts’ comments are the latest black eye for a state that’s had to deal with a Confederate flag controversy and a philandering governor in recent years. Now, the perception of the state has been further damaged according to Republican gubernatorial candidate Henry McMaster who was defeated by candidate Niki Haley in the South Carolina Republican gubernatorial primary.
“The behavior of my opponents, their campaigns and their supporters over the last few weeks has not served our state well,” McMaster told WLTX. “For the sake of our state and our people, I’m calling on them to cut this nonsense out right now.”