It’s been five months since state Sen. Jake Knotts (R-Lexington) told Palmetto Public Record this fall’s election will be his last, but it looks like the controversial lawmaker is reconsidering his decision to retire after one more term.
When Knotts made the announcement back in February, he was facing two challengers in the Republican primary — including a tough rematch against his 2008 opponent, Katrina Shealy. But thanks to a few loopholes and lawsuits — of which Knotts played an integral part — the longtime senator ended up winning the June primary unopposed.
According to The State’s Andrew Shain, the 68-year-old senator appears to have changed his mind now that his competition has dwindled:
“I got a physical today. I’m good for another 40 years,” Knotts said. “It will depend on what’s left that I want to accomplish (at the State House).”
The decision will come down to Knotts’ family, especially his grandchildren, he said. Knotts recognizes that he has lost time with his wife and daughters while working for years in law enforcement and serving 18 years in the General Assembly — eight in the House and 10 in the Senate.
“It will be a call when we sit down at the family dinner table,” Knotts said.
No matter what Knotts decides, there’s still no guarantee he will be reelected in the first place. Shealy is expected to make it back onto the November ballot as a petition candidate, and Lexington GOP officials have officially been given the OK to support a candidate other than the official nominee.
Despite Gov. Nikki Haley’s insistence that she’s not trying to influence local elections, the governor has used her remaining political clout with great effect in GOP races in the Upstate and in South Carolina’s new congressional district. Given Haley’s established public support for Shealy and her heated rivalry with Knotts, it’s virtually certain the governor will attempt to influence the already-contentious Knotts-Shealy battle this fall. That fact alone makes this one of the biggest general election races to watch, so watch for updates on Palmetto Public Record as the campaign heats up.