The two candidates who will face off in a run-off election May 16 to be the Republican nominee for South Carolina 5th Congressional District will appear in Sumter tonight, according to Sumter Republican County Chairman Jason Reddick.
The local party will have a meet-and-greet event at 7 p.m. at the Restaurant at Second Mill, 1100 W. Liberty St., he said, and former state Rep. Ralph Norman and state House Speaker Pro Tem Rep. Tommy Pope have said they will appear.
The two York County residents finished first and second in Tuesdays primary election according to www.scvotes.org, with Pope able to claim first-place bragging rights by 118 votes. The vote totals Wednesday afternoon showed Pope with 11,900 votes and Norman with 11,782.
South Carolina National Guard Commander Tom Mullikin finished third, with 7,734 votes, and former S.C. Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly was fourth with 5,536 votes.
Pope, a former prosecutor, said in an emailed statement he has spent his life trying to help people.
"I've lived my life running towards problems, whether bad guys or bad policies. I've worked in the State House to fight for conservative causes like tax reform, the 2nd Amendment, and protecting the unborn."
He also criticized Norman's record in the General Assembly.
"My opponent has never gotten much done in Columbia," Pope said. "He casts countless strange votes, voting against jobs, farmers, the Port of Charleston, and he even voted against investigating Planned Parenthood's business practices."
At a victory celebration Tuesday night in York County, Norman said the run-off would be a challenge.
"This is a tremendous victory in the sense that on March 15, I was behind by 15 points," he said. "This next two weeks, it's not going to be easy, it's not over with."
Norman contrasted his background with that of his run-off opponent.
"I am a business guy," he said. "I will be running against a trial lawyer. It's a fundamental difference in philosophy.
Pope or Norman will face Democratic nominee Archie Parnell, who lives in Sumter, in the June 20 special election. The former Goldman Sachs tax adviser overwhelmed his opposition in the Democratic primary, claiming 13,323 votes out of 18,690 votes cast in the primary, for more than 71 percent.
Parnell urged his supporters to remain active heading into the June election.
"This is just the beginning," Parnell said. "If you care about the direction our country is headed, I need you to stay active in my campaign. Together, we will flip this district from red to blue."
The Democratic Primary for South Carolina House of Representatives District 70 will also have a run-off election May 16, with top vote-getter Wendy Brawley, a publisher from Hopkins, facing H. Health Hill, a farmer from Eastover.
Brawley earned more than 40 percent of the vote, but not the 50 percent plus one needed to win outright. Hill finished in second with 23 percent, while none of the other seven candidates received more than 13 percent.
Hill said he expected the run-off to be a tough election.
"The only thing I know to do is go out and get some more votes," he said. "We have a lot of work to do."
Brawley said she expected the run-off to be hard fought.
"We are going to be making sure our message is reaching the people of the district," she said. "We are going to work hard."