Wendy Brawley looked to be the strongest candidate heading into the Democratic runoff in the S.C. House District 70 race, after her top-place finish in the May 2 primary. Tuesday night, she confirmed that status with a resounding victory over Heath Hill.
Brawley broke out to a nearly 3-to-1 lead in early voting returns and never looked back as she secured her first victory in a Democratic primary, giving her a boost heading into the June special election.
Brawley finished a strong first in the Democratic primary two weeks ago, more than 15 percentage points ahead of Hill. But she came up short of the 50 percent needed to avoid the runoff.
Brawley, 58, is publisher and chief executive of IMARA Woman magazine. She is a former chair of the Richland 1 school board and, previously, unsuccessfully challenged state Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, in the Democratic primary.
Hill, a 66-year-old Lower Richland farmer, came second in the May 2 primary, winning 24 percent of the vote to Brawley’s 40 percent. He is on the board of Tri-County Electric Cooperative.
The seat came open when longtime Rep. Joe Neal died earlier this year.
Prior to the first round, Brawley received the endorsement of Neal’s family, as well as the S.C. Progressive Network and the Progressive Legislative Caucus, which Neal co-founded in the S.C. House.
Brawley will take on Republican Bill Strickland of Sumter in the June 20 general election. She will be the favorite in the Democratic-leaning district. Neal, a pastor and civil rights activist, held the seat for 25 years before his death.
District 70 covers Lower Richland and the western part of Sumter County.
S.C. House 70 runoff
18 of 22 precincts reporting in the Democratic contest
Wendy Brawley: 1,446, 74 percent
H. Heath Hill: 514, 26 percent