Jake Knotts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

John M. Knotts, Jr.
Member of the South Carolina Senate
from the 23rd district
In office
Preceded byJoe Wilson
Succeeded byKatrina Shealy
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives
from the 88th district
In office
Preceded byC. Lenoir Sturkie
Succeeded byMac Toole
Personal details
Born (1944-12-12) December 12, 1944 (age 75)
West Columbia, South Carolina
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Betty Lee
Professionlaw enforcement

John M. "Jake" Knotts, Jr. (born December 12, 1944) is a former Republican member of the South Carolina Senate, representing the 23rd District from 2002 to 2012. Previously he was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1994 through 2002.

Early life[edit]

Knotts was born in December 1944 in West Columbia, South Carolina, the son of John Milton, Sr. and Dovereen Jessie (Williams) Knotts.[1] He was the child of a poverty-stricken family and raised as Jakie Webster until he was told his real name at age 12.[2] Knotts served in the Navy.[3] Following his service, Knotts worked as a police officer for the Columbia Police Department, a detective, and an assistant coroner before entering politics.[3] Knotts married Betty Lee in 1965,[1][4] with whom he has two children, Michelle Nicole and Tara Marie.[4]

Political career[edit]

Knotts was a prominent critic of governor and fellow Republican Mark Sanford and was a leading critic of the governor following his disappearance and admission of an extramarital affair.[5][6]

While serving in the State Senate, Knotts called Nikki Haley a "raghead." Haley went on to become governor.[7]

Knotts was defeated for re-election in the 2012 general election by Katrina Shealy, a Republican petition candidate who he had defeated in the 2008 Republican primary.

Committee assignments[edit]

Knotts served on the following committees in the state senate:[1]

  • Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Fish, Game and Forestry
  • General
  • Invitations (Chairman)
  • Judiciary
  • Rules


"Raghead" comment[edit]

On June 3, 2010, Knotts used the word "raghead" to describe President Barack Obama and Republican gubernatorial candidate (and fellow Lexington County resident) Nikki Haley while appearing on a live broadcast of Pub Politics. Several people present at the political talk show's broadcast confirmed Knotts said "We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor's mansion."[8] Haley was raised as a Sikh and later converted to Christianity. Haley has stated she attends services of both faiths.[8]

Other South Carolina Republicans were quick to distance themselves from Knotts and called for an apology.[9] Knotts later issued a statement, saying, "Since my intended humorous context was lost in translation, I apologize. I still believe Ms Haley is pretending to be someone she is not, much as Obama did, but I apologize to both for an unintended slur."[10] Haley campaign manager Tim Pearson called Knotts "an embarrassment to our state and to the Republican Party."[11]

After Knotts' controversial remarks, former Lexington County Republican Party chairwoman Katrina Shealy announced a primary candidacy to challenge Jake Knotts in 2012.[12] On June 10, the Lexington County Republican Party voted to censure Knotts and asked him to resign from office, by a vote of 26 to 7.[13] Knotts reiterated that he would not resign, saying "I'm truly, deeply sorry I used those words and there was no intention for them to be interpreted to be prejudice."[13] Greenville County GOP chairman and First Vice Chairman of the State Republican Party Patrick Haddon has called for Knotts' expulsion from the party and resignation stating, "I cannot sit idly by and watch our Party be torn apart by Senator Jake Knotts' bigotry," Haddon said in a statement. "This is the harshest penalty the Party can impose, and it is more than justified in this situation."[14]

Sanford disappearance[edit]

Knotts also raised some eyebrows with comments made when Gov. Mark Sanford disappeared for several days in June 2009, on what was later revealed to be a rendezvous with a woman in South America. Knotts, a longtime Sanford foe, questioned who was leading the state should a disaster occur: "Who is at the helm? The way Iran is acting up, and what about weather catastrophes? Hopefully no decision has to be made."[15]

A few days later, Knotts called for a "full-blown" investigation into Sanford's actions.[16]


  1. ^ a b c "Senator John M. "Jake" Knotts, Jr". South Carolina State Legislature. Archived from the original on June 21, 2010. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
  2. ^ "How Jake became Jake: Knotts on growing up poor in Columbia." Interview with Jake Knotts. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  3. ^ a b Definition of a hard-nose. The Item via Google News Archive. 6 July 1996.
  4. ^ a b "Senator John Milton 'Jake' Knotts, Jr. (SC)". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
  5. ^ "Republican calls for investigations into Sanford." CNN Political Ticker. 26 June 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  6. ^ Yvonne Wenger. "Knotts admonishes Sanford but will not call for his resignation." Post and Courier. 26 June 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
  7. ^ Fausset, Richard (June 23, 2015). "South Carolina Governor Points to Personal Reasons, Not Politics, for Shift on Confederate Flag". New York Times. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  8. ^ a b O'Connor, John., Smith, Gina. Knotts' slur stirs the Haley storm. Archived 2014-12-27 at the Wayback Machine The State. June 3, 2010.
  9. ^ Smith, Ben. S.C. Republicans condemn 'raghead' comment. Politico. June 3, 2010.
  10. ^ US lawmaker under fire over racist slur of Indian-American. Associated Press. Yahoo! News. June 4, 2010.
  11. ^ Ivey, Page (June 4, 2010). "SC state senator refers to candidate as 'raghead'". The Guardian. Retrieved June 5, 2010.
  12. ^ Landreth, Rob (June 4, 2010). "Shealy Says She Will Challenge Knotts In 2012". WSPA-TV. Archived from the original on June 8, 2010. Retrieved June 5, 2010.
  13. ^ a b "Local GOP Leaders Ask S.C. State Senator to Resign Over 'Raghead' Remark". Fox News. June 11, 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  14. ^ http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/06/11/1492962/gop-rebukes-knotts-for-haley-slur.html[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ AWOL Governor Mark Sanford has entire state in a tizzy, New York Daily News, June 23, 2009
  16. ^ Jake Knotts, South Carolina Republican, calls for 'full-blown' investigation of Sanford, The Huffington Post, June 26, 2010

External links[edit]