Politics & Government

The Confederate battle flag is once again dividing SC Republicans

A South Carolina Republican running to replace Rep. Mick Mulvaney is blasting two GOP rivals for voting to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds.

The flag came down in 2015 at the urging of then GOP Gov. Nikki Haley and with support from legislative Republicans.

But in a Facebook ad, Republican Sheri Few attacked rivals Tommy Pope and Ralph Norman, who voted to remove the flag after a white supremacist killed nine African-Americans at a Charleston church.

They’re among the candidates running for the seat that was held by Mulvaney, the Indian Land Republican appointed as the nation’s new budget director by President Donald Trump.

“When Ralph Norman and Tommy Pope voted to take the battle flag down from the Confederate memorial in Columbia, they started a war on our history,” Few said in the ad. “Now they’re renaming streets and colleges and destroying monuments to Confederate solders. And it started with Ralph Norman and Tommy Pope’s vote.”

The ad appears to be the first that criticizes Republicans for removing the flag, seen by many Americans as a symbol of hatred.

Haley – now American ambassador to the U.N. – called for removing the flag from the capitol grounds after the June 2015 church massacre. Mulvaney and other prominent Republicans supported her.

Lee Frye, Norman’s campaign manager, said, “We don’t have a response to Sheri Few’s Facebook ad.” A spokesman for Pope could not be reached. But Archie Parnell, a Sumter Democrat running for the seat, blasted the ad.

“For Sheri Few’s campaign to re-open this painful chapter in our history is shameful and divisive,” he said in a statement. “Republican leaders and every candidate in this race need to reject the hate Sheri Few’s campaign is promoting.”

Few could not be reached. In a news release, she called Parnell’s comment “a disgusting affront to those of us who understand that our history cannot be destroyed in the name of political correctness.”

“The only ‘hate’ in this campaign is from condescending snobs like Mr. Parnell,” she said.

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill

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