COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Republicans ended their meeting last Saturday without disciplining or dismissing a state legislator who used a racial slur to criticize state Rep. Nikki Haley, the party’s nominee for governor.
Members of the state GOP’s executive committee briefly discussed a resolution concerning state Sen. Jake Knotts, but no action was taken, executive director Joel Sawyer said.
Knotts’ comment came on an Internet political talk show days before the June 8 primary, in which state Rep. Nikki Haley trounced three white male colleagues and came close to avoiding a runoff. She won the runoff Tuesday with 65 percent of the vote.
Knotts called her a “raghead” — a derogatory reference to people of Middle Eastern or Indian descent — and questioned whether she was Christian. Haley, whose parents immigrated from India, grew up in the Sikh religion but now identifies as a Methodist.
Knotts apologized that night and later on the Senate floor, saying it was meant as a joke in a Saturday Night Live-type setting.
The Republican Party in Lexington County, where Knotts and Haley both live, asked him to resign.
The ultimate resolution for Knotts may have to wait for 2012, when state senators are up for re-election.
Knotts’ 2008 opponent, Katrina Shealy, has announced that she will challenge him again.
In 2008, Knotts won a primary runoff with 58 percent of the vote and had no Democratic opposition. He was elected to the Senate in 2002 after four terms in the House.
Knotts said those who continue to make his comment an issue are hypocrites, noting the party didn’t call for Gov. Mark Sanford to resign when he disappeared over Father’s Day weekend last year and, upon returning, confessed to an affair.
Instead, the state GOP executive committee voted last July to censure Sanford for failing to live by Republican principles and for breaking the public’s trust. ♦