After nearly 20 years in South Carolina’s State House, Sen. Jake Knotts says the 2012 election will be his last. The Lexington Republican made the announcement Wednesday evening on Pub Politics, an online talk show hosted by the political directors of the Senate’s Democratic and Republican caucuses.
“I’ll be 72 years old, and I’ve been in public service for 52 years,” Knotts told Palmetto Public Record after the show, pointing at the State House across the street and adding, “I don’t need to be there.”
The senator’s announcement marked Knotts’ first appearance on Pub Politics since 2010, when he made national headlines for calling President Obama and then-candidate Nikki Haley “ragheads.” State Republicans censured Knotts over the comment and asked him to resign, but the longtime legislator kept his Senate seat.
Knotts again faces a primary challenge by fellow Republican Katrina Shealy this fall, but told Palmetto Public Record he isn’t worried. “I’m a producer not a reducer, and everybody knows me,” he said, citing his many committee assignments and constituent services. “At least people know I’m being honest with them.”
Shealy communications director Sheri Few, who was passing out campaign stickers to the Pub Politics audience during Knotts’ appearance, said the “RINO” senator’s announcement is wonderful news. “If he’ll be 72, why doesn’t he just retire now and make our lives easier?” she asked.
Knotts said Shealy is planning to run a dirty campaign, as evidenced by the resurfacing of an old claim that Knotts allegedly once roughed up a prostitute. FITSnews reports the claim is believed to have originated with Gov. Nikki Haley, a political rival of Knotts and one of Shealy’s biggest supporters.
“If [Shealy] wants to get down in the dirt, let’s get down in the dirt,” Knotts told Palmetto Public Record. “She doesn’t have any issues, she just doesn’t like me.”