State GOP Endorses Shealy Over Knotts
Controversial senator loses support of his own party.
The fallout from the ballot controversy of this election season continues. This time it claims the person who is accused by some of creating it.
In an unprecedented move, Patch has learned that the South Carolina Republican Party Executive Committee is endorsing Katrina Shealy over incumbent Jake Knotts in the Senate 23 race.
The endorsement is significant on several fronts, but most notably because Knotts is a sitting state senator with 10 years of tenure. Knotts is the chair of the Rules Committee and is on several other influential committees, including the Judiciary.
It also means the state GOP is making a preference for a petition candidate over one of its own members.
Shealy was attending a family function on Saturday and when contacted by Patch she said, “We’re excited and grateful.” She added that a statement will be released to the media on Monday.
Shealy qualified as a petition candidate earlier this month after acquiring the necessary signatures to appear in the November ballot. She was required to do so after being removed from the GOP primary ballot by the State Supreme Court in May. Though she’ll be listed as a petition candidate, Shealy is a well-known conservative in Lexington County.
State GOP Executive Director Matt Moore confirmed that the endorsement occurred and was agreed upon unanimously by all 46 of the committee members who attended the regularly scheduled meeting on Saturday.
It’s the latest turn in what has been a tumultuous three months for the fiery Knotts.
It began in May when one of his associates filed a suit alleging that Shealy was ineligible to have been placed on the June primary ballot. The state Supreme Court agreed and in addition to removing Shealy, the court removed hundreds of other candidates across the state.
When members of the General Assembly attempted to correct the ballot problem by passing new legislation, Knotts blocked it on procedural grounds, leading to a public spat with Roxanne Wilson, a supporter of one of the candidates who was removed from the ballot.
In June, the Lexington County GOP asked Knotts to step down after he admitted to violating campaign laws last September that led to him returning $25,000 in contributions.
In the last week, Knotts was linked to an illegal video poker operation that donated thousands to his campaign.
Amid all this, video of infamous “raghead” comment from 2010 was released on the Internet.
Election day is November 6.