South Congaree, SC (Paul Kirby) – Former SC State Senator Jake Knotts has said that he is very close to deciding whether he will return to political office right where he started. He said Monday that he was certainly ready to get back in the game, and he knew and loved the people of House District 88. Mac Toole, who won that seat after Knotts moved to the senate, has said he’ll not run again this year.
Knotts started his rise to power by easily winning House District 88 in 1994 from Lenore Sturkie. He did so by working hard, pounding the pavement, and running a sweaty, grass roots campaign. He also proved that Sturkie wasn’t doing the job he was elected to do by going through house logs by hand. Those showed just how many votes Sturkie missed by being absent. Knotts is a born fighter and he proved it when he was victorious in his first real political campaign.
Later, Knotts won the SC Senate District 23 seat which he held for 10 years. He built power at the state house and prided himself on servicing his constituents. He often found ways to fund projects in his district when coffers seemed to be bare and money simply wasn’t available to others. He’d make a deal, play the “behind the scene” political game, and suddenly funding would appear for “his” people. Knotts even used the slogan, “Bringing home the bacon for you,” with absolute pride that he was making that actually happen.
He was a master at political strategy and once had dozens of candidates thrown off the ballots statewide by pointing out a little-known filing technicality. That infuriated many of the candidates for office who had to petition their way onto the ballot if they could. Knotts was eventually defeated by Senator Katrina Shealy of Red Bank in 2012. Shealy has since been building strength at the state house and has become an effective political master with her own style.
Knotts said Monday that he was enjoying his family and grandchildren but felt he had more to do for the people of House District 88. “I’ve made up my mind,” Knotts said. “I've had lots of calls from people asking that I run for office again. The problem is my wife and family haven’t made up their minds to let me spend that much time away. I’ll make an announcement soon one way or the other but I’m leaning toward running,” he concluded.
So far, Red Bank businessman and veteran Brian Duncan has said he’s running for the seat. He was eyeing Bobby Keisler’s Lexington County Council seat but decided the house was the place he could do the most good after Toole decided to step back. Another longtime Red Bank resident and businessman, Mike Sturkie, has also shown an interest in representing the people of House District 88. At this point, he’s made nothing official regarding his intention. Finally, RJ Maye, a small business owner and conservative strategist, has also said he is considering jumping into the fray.
If all who’ve shown an interest run, the primary in June could be very interesting. With a field that large, it may be difficult for anyone to harvest enough votes to avoid a runoff.