York County Councilman Paul Lindemann vowed Tuesday to press forward with his November re-election campaign, despite pressure from the county GOP leadership to resign.
In his first public comments since being arrested last week in Columbia on drunken driving charges, Lindemann told The Herald that the thought of leaving politics hasn't entered his mind.
"I've got the support of the council, I've got the support of my family, and I've probably had at least 35 to 50 phone calls in support of me," Lindemann said. "I'm going to hold my head up high and be a man about the situation, and just take it as it comes."
The stance puts Lindemann at odds with York County GOP Chairman Glenn McCall, who called on the Fort Mill Republican to resign so that he can resolve his issues with alcohol.
"I really believe there is a problem there, and he's not owning up to it," McCall said. "He feels he can beat the wrap, if you will. I told him that doesn't matter. From a party perspective, you violated our trust in you, and we expect you would want to step down ... and take care of your issues."
State records show Lindemann was charged with drunken driving in Rock Hill in November 1998 at age 19. During his interview with The Herald, Lindemann also acknowledged a second drunken driving arrest in 2000.
The outcomes of those cases weren't described on state records, and Lindemann did not want to elaborate.
Columbia police say Lindemann, 29, was "highly intoxicated" when he was arrested in downtown Columbia last Wednesday and charged with driving under the influence.
Two motorcyclists told police that Lindemann's black 2008 Audi A4 nearly ran into them several times on Harden Street. An officer picked up a strong odor of alcohol coming from Lindemann, who also had slurred speech, according to reports.
On Tuesday, Lindemann declined to go into specifics about the arrest.
"It's just a charge," he said. "The judicial system has this great thing that's called innocent until proven guilty. It will play out in the judicial system just like it should."
Since winning the District 1 seat two years ago, Lindemann has emerged as one of the party's more energetic young figures. He flirted with challenging Rep. Carl Gullick in the state House before choosing to seek another term representing Fort Mill and Tega Cay.
Four months ago, Lindemann's wife, Jennifer, gave birth to the couple's first child, a son named Ethan. Lindemann owns Ocean Blue Properties, a real estate investment firm in Fort Mill.
Late Monday afternoon, McCall and Lindemann met for nearly an hour at the Starbucks on Celanese Road, where the party chairman shared his disappointment and urged Lindemann to do what's best for his family.
"He is more important to us than the seat," McCall said. "We're concerned about Paul."
Lindemann faces Democratic newcomer Marion Davenport and Green Party candidate Bryan Smith in the Nov. 4 general election. Democrats feel optimistic about Davenport, owner of the Chirp 'n Chatter store in the Tega Cay Village shopping center.
"I'll be Mr. Family Man for about the next month and a half," said Lindemann, mentioning two upcoming family vacations. "I intend to prove that's what I'm about -- family and community. We will come back strong at the end of August and crank this thing off."
McCall said local party leaders are working with state GOP officials to explore the rules for placing a different name on the ballot. Without Lindemann's consent, that option appears impossible.
South Carolina law allows for a substitution only if the departing candidate first agrees to drop out. Candidates can withdraw for health reasons, family emergencies or business conflicts.
County Council Chairman Buddy Motz, a Republican, urged Lindemann to get help but stopped short of calling for him to resign.
"I think all of us on the County Council would agree that what he did shows a lack of responsibility," Motz said. "To have it happen three times is a very serious situation. It does show a problem that someone would need to get some assistance for. The decision has to be his."
Asked whether the charges create a distraction for county government, Lindemann brought up campaign maneuvers by Councilmen Roy Blake and Curwood Chappell, who drew attention during the recent primary season.
"The council gets distracted weekly by something, whether it's a lawsuit by Roy Blake, or Curwood, or anything," he said. "I don't think a day in the paper about one council member accused of a wrongdoing is going to deter the council any more than anything else."