How Jake became Jake: Knotts on growing up poor in Columbia

here have been times in the past that I’ve heard parts of it, but this time, I sat back and listened to Jake Knotts tell his full story of how he grew up in Columbia.

He was offering it as an explanation of his values, a way of telling us why he approaches things the way he does.

Look at it any way you like — as the inspiring story of how a populist rose up from the poorest corners of our capital city, or how hard times made a "rough cop" and bull-headed hard case of a state senator.

Either way, it’s interesting, and worth watching the video. This is from an interview Tuesday morning in our offices. Once Jake had told his story, we of course launched into the usual questions.

35 thoughts on “How Jake became Jake: Knotts on growing up poor in Columbia

  1. Randy E

    I can’t get the video to play but his description reads like that of Bounderby from “Hard Times”.
    Is he going to complete the Political Courage Test from Project Vote Smart? I see there is no need to research his voting record – he basically votes the party line.

  2. Joshua

    I have passionate differences of opinion with Senator Knotts over policy, over the way he votes, things of that nature. As a result, I won’t be voting for him. (Don’t know what Randy E is talking about – Jake’s a long long way from the party line.)
    This is still a fascinating story, though, and well told. Thanks for sharing it, Brad.

  3. Brad Warthen

    That was my point, Joshua — glad you appreciated it. Just plain interesting. Call  it part of my campaign to help the world see that politicians are people, not angels or demons.

    Randy, tell me again what happened when you tried to view the video — could you hear it and not see it, or nothing at all? What browser are you using? It plays fine for me on Firefox — although I see I should shrink the window a bit to fit on this post…

    And Randy, Joshua’s right — there’s nothing party line about Jake. In fact, what you have here is a war between people (Sanford and Knotts) who are both outside the mainstreams of their party.

    Jake is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, in terms of the positions he takes or the way he approaches the world. He’s a populist. Sanford is a libertarian.

  4. Randy E

    I looked at his recent voting record on the major issues – objective analysis:
    Yes for sales vs property tax
    Voted to support Pay-day lenders
    Voted to Appoint Sec of Ed
    Extremely low rating for environmental issues
    A+ from NRA
    Please share an example of how he has he bucked the party line.

  5. Randy E

    A populist would have opposed replacing property tax with the sales tax. A populist would not allow public money to pay for private schools. A populist in no way would support pay day lenders.

  6. Brad Warthen

    Randy, are you sure about those? The voucher thing doesn’t sound right. Of course, favoring vouchers isn’t party-line. If it were, they would have become law. They are the Sanford line, and Sanford is a countercultural Republican. In any case, Jake doesn’t vote for anything Sanford favors if he can help it — even when Sanford’s right (such as on the Lexington Medical Center open-heart CON request).
    And while I don’t know whether you’re right or not on the payday lending thing, how do you figure that the populist position is anti-payday lending?
    I ask that because we want to do away with the industry, and as a result we get accused of being bourgeois paternalists — middle-class busybodies who think they know better than the working-class people who like having these legal loan sharks as an option in a pinch.
    Not that I’m agreeing with that assertion, but it’s consistent with the kinds of criticism we get for opposing video poker and the lottery. In each case, we’re opposing things that are very popular among the working class.
    Is a position taken “because it’s for the people’s own good” a POPULIST position? I tend to think of “populist” as meaning something with mass appeal, something that the people in question would choose for themselves; something they would identify with.
    Do you see what I mean?
    Also, I gather that you think I mean to praise someone by saying he’s a “populist.” No, I’m just being descriptive. It’s a way of describing someone who is unlike me, because I am no populist. And I don’t say that to praise myself; I’m just being descriptive. NOT being a populist, I regard myself with suspicion sometimes: Am I being a snob? Some would say “yes.”

  7. Bill C.

    Isn’t great that a poor boy in Lexington County can grow up one day to be a state senator and 1/3rd owner of a strip club along with the county sheriff and prominent county prosecutor.

  8. Brad Warthen

    Where’s the strip club, Bill? I should probably go check it out. Is there a cover charge? Do you think they’d accept my company credit card?

  9. Reader

    Thomas Ravenel’s pardon is as good as granted if these yahoos are part-owners of Pure. And if any of this is true, Bill C.

  10. Randy E

    Populist (Merriam-Webster) – a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people.
    Pay day lenders prey on the common person.
    Sales taxes are regressive compared to property taxes. The vote to shift taxing from property taxes favors the privileged. Common necessities make up a larger percent of the common person’s salary.
    Low socio-economic people can not take advantage of a voucher of $8k to pay annual tuition of $12k at a Heathwood or Hammond. The 8k figure is likely a large overestimate.
    Regarding the votes, see for yourselves:
    State Scholarships for Private Schools
    Amendment No. P-2B Y
    Sales and Property Taxes
    H 4449 Y
    Prohibiting Payday Lending Amendment
    AM 4 to S 398 Y (yes to table the bill)

  11. Reader

    Go, Brad, go. Check it out. Cash. Credit. Who cares. I am going to be highly peeved if this was just a traffic builder, Bill C.

  12. Randy E

    So “poor” Jake Knotts is Bounderby from “Hard Times”, a man who grew up poor but found success and then showed little sympathy for the poor.
    Someone show me how I am wrong.

  13. Reader

    He showed little sympathy for me — just a poor peasant girl, transplanted from Louisiana and not knowing about these big, bad wolves.
    Emmylou Harris says it best on “Wrecking Ball, Orphan Girl.”

  14. Yankee Transplant

    As long as Lexington keeps voting for rednecks, nothing will change. They know what they are getting with Jake = a guy who will keep the good old boy network humming.

  15. Cindi Scoppe

    I was surprised by Randy’s assertion that Knotts voted pro-voucher and went to the Project Vote Smart site (where it LOOKS like he got his information) to check it out. Turns out that Knotts voted yes to TABLE a voucher plan. (I did not check any of the other votes cited.)
    Project Vote Smart offers a tremendous resource for voters, but you need to be sure to read the details, not just the topic and yes/no vote on the main candidate page; you need to click on the topic to find out what “yes” or “no” actually meant.

  16. Randy E

    I concede my error, Ms. Scoppe (I knew you peeked in on us but didn’t know you contributed). I attempted due diligence and had read the Pay Day Lender bill but did not do the same with the voucher plan.
    Despite this, I still take issue with his label as a populist given this aforementioned lenders bill and the property tax bill.

  17. Lee Muller

    Economics lesson for Randy:
    If the education voucher is $8,000, and the tuition at Already Filled Up Academy is $12,000, it doesn’t mean that poor little Johnny has to go to the government school.
    There will be huge market for $8,000 schooling, and smart teachers will set up shop to supply it, in smaller classrooms than the GovCo has. 15 students times $8,000 = $120,000 to pay rent on a nice office , utilities, and still leave $100,000 per teacher.
    A real manager ( not an educrat ) will organize a bunch of teachers into a school, pay them $70,000 with $15,000 in retirement and $5,000 benefits, and pay himself $10,000 per class for putting it all together.

  18. Randy E

    Lee, off the top of my head, I came up with additional expenditures:
    *property insurance
    *desks and white boards
    *technology; computers, internet etc.
    *copy machines and service
    *consumables; markers, paper, etc.
    *administrative assistance because certainly someone has to deal with parent calls, packages, absences,etc.
    *meal service
    *counselor to handle student graduation, college searches, IAPs,
    *science lab equipment
    Of course, this will be filled with students of families who want a puritanical education devoid of any extra-curricular activities or athletics.
    We also can not provide for any special ed needs.
    Also, explain how many teachers are needed each year to provide for the diploma requirements below while maintaining your 15:1 ratio.
    English/Language Arts 4.0
    Mathematics 4.0
    Science 3.0
    U.S. History and Constitution 1.0
    Economics 0.5
    U.S. Government 0.5
    Other Social Studies 1.0
    Physical Education or Junior ROTC 1.0
    Computer Science (Incl. keyboarding) 1.0
    Foreign Language or Career and Technology Education* 1.0
    Electives 7.0
    Total †‡ 24

  19. Lee Muller

    Don’t worry, Randy, being a business man, I know all about those expenses, and already figured them in. So will the entrepreneurs who make a lot of money providing an $8,000 education which is vastly superior to the $12,000 government education.
    And you can forget forcing your government curriculum on students. The voucher schools will come up with better programs, because they will hire away the better teachers.
    While you sit on the sidelines and tell us how it won’t work, the doers will make it work. That’s the way is always is.

  20. Randy E

    You may “know” about these expenses but you didn’t included them in your original proposal.
    I’m still waiting for you to determine how many teachers are needed to meet the diploma requirements.

  21. Lee Muller

    Just because you can’t figure it out, don’t worry, lots of us business people can. That’s why you’re so afraid for poor families to have vouchers.
    The good teachers know they would be better off in such well-run schools.

  22. Randy E

    It’s not my job to figure it out and never claimed I could. You claimed that you could. I called you on it and you now try to spin your way out of this.

  23. Bill C.

    I received two Jake Knotts fliers in the mail today, one interestingly has two of his “business partners” endorsing him. Anyone who doesn’t see this good ol’ boy “Southern Gentlemen” system at work in Lexington County is blind.

  24. Reader

    Bill C, are you just toying with us? Give us the poop on the strip club. The unenlightened need not be that way ANYMORE. This is America!!

  25. Reader

    And Bill C, please spell it out with names instead of vague titles like “business partner,” which SOME of us could twist into almost anything. The inner revolutions of this crooked political machine get curiouser and curiouser.
    My husband was standing over me reading this and told me to take out the part about not knowing that Jake Knotts had planned a gubernatorial run in 2006 until I just a minute ago pulled up an article from WLTX on the ‘net’. He said it would make me look ignorant — but I decided to put it back in because I am way past that…

  26. Lee Muller

    Randy, when have you ever seen a government program explained, in detail, how it will work, before it is created?
    When have you ever seen one that delivered what was promised, on time and under budget?
    How ludicrous it is for government educrats who can’t even tell us why they failed again, to demand every possible business plan for vouchers, for to be critiqued by them!

  27. Billy

    No one mentions the fact that a lot of senate vote are not recorded. Nor has anyone mentioned that Knotts opposes a bill to require them to be recorded. With that said how do we truely know he voting record? I have asked him personally to support Haley’s transparency bill, but he is pig-headedly against it. Anyone who wishes to hind the way he or she votes does not get my trust and certainly not my vote.

  28. nmwander

    This guy Jake Knotts and his life story, reminds me mostly of none other than Hugo Chavez, the dictator of Venezuela.
    Hugo Chavez, like Knotts, loves to recite the litany of his impoverished childhood and how it ingrained in him a love of the “little people”…..meanwhile he stomps on them all, grinding them down, while he and his cronies make millions of $$$.

  29. nmwander

    “Hugo Chavez” Knotts makes his living by giving the Rich Folks the finger. Poor Folks will always vote for anybody that are successful by giving Rich Folks the finger.

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