Sumter's Parnell disappointed, proud of race he ran

BY BRUCE MILLS bruce@theitem.com
Posted 11/9/18

Archie Parnell, the Democratic nominee for the state's 5th Congressional District, said he was surprised and disappointed with Tuesday's loss to incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman given voter turnout but that he is proud of the race he …

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Sumter's Parnell disappointed, proud of race he ran

Posted

Archie Parnell, the Democratic nominee for the state's 5th Congressional District, said he was surprised and disappointed with Tuesday's loss to incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman given voter turnout but that he is proud of the race he ran.

A Sumter native and resident, Parnell spoke Wednesday on the midterm election shortly after arriving back home. He and his wife, Sarah, spent election night in Rock Hill for a watch party.

After voting Tuesday morning at Willow Drive Elementary School, Parnell spent Election Day driving to numerous historically Democratic-leaning precincts throughout the 11-county district and said he was encouraged by the bigger-than-expected turnout. During the day, he said he was told anecdotally that voter turnout at some historically Republican-leaning precincts was not as high.

"So, we thought - based on that - that our voters were turning out higher than the Republicans,'" Parnell said. "Either that information was incorrect and there was high turnout across the board, or there could have been cases where what we felt would be Democratic votes, were not Democratic votes on the day."

Once precinct results started coming in after polls closed at 7 p.m., Parnell said he realized the overall vote was going clearly in the Norman's direction.

Norman finished off the night with 57 percent of the vote to Parnell's 42 percent. Constitution Party Candidate Michael Chandler earned the other 1 percent of the overall vote.

Parnell said he was disappointed in the loss but that it was an honor to run in the congressional race and values the friendships he developed along the way.

He said he didn't think the revelations this spring of domestic violence from his first marriage 45 years ago in 1973 played too much a factor in the race. Parnell said he was forthright and honest after the news came out in The Charleston Post and Courier and that he knew many people judged him for the person he is today.

"I was hopeful that we could say in a victorious way that owning one's past, being accountable and being responsible were values that helped us win - and that was what I was going to be talking about last night," Parnell said. "But, it turned out differently. I'm proud of the race we ran. I looked people in the eye and told them who I was and who I am and what I had done. I am proud of that."

Before the election, Parnell - a former senior financial advisor at Goldman Sachs - challenged Norman to a series of debates, one in each of the 11 counties represented by the 5th District.

Norman, a Rock Hill real estate developer, debated Parnell once.

Parnell said Wednesday that it was too soon to even think about whether he would run for elected office again.

In June 2017, Norman defeated Parnell in a special election, winning 51 percent of the votes. That first race was to replace Mick Mulvaney, who vacated the 5th District seat to become director of the Office of Management and Budget in President Trump's administration.