Politics & Government

Runoffs for Congress, S.C. House set for Tuesday

Both S.C. Democrats and Republicans go to the polls Tuesday to vote in two special election runoffs.

GOP voters in the 5th District will pick a nominee for Congress, selecting between Ralph Norman and Tommy Pope, one-time colleagues in the S.C. House.

At the same time, Democrats in S.C. House District 70 will choose their party’s nominee for state representative in a match-up between Wendy Brawley and Heath Hill.

A look at the key issues in each race.

5th District

Legislative record: Both Republican candidates have been S.C. House members for years, but they took different approaches.

Pope — the S.C. House’s speaker pro tempore, the body’s No. 2-ranking official — campaigned on his ability to get things done as a lawmaker. Norman has positioned himself as a conservative who will put a bigger emphasis on opposing proposals, whether tax increases or regulations.

AHCA: The 5th District’s next congressman may be tossed into the middle of the debate over the American Health Care Act, the Republican attempt to repeal former President Obama’s health-care reforms.

Norman opposed an earlier version of the GOP-backed bill, saying it was too close to Obamacare. While calling for some changes, Pope was more supportive. Beyond promises to repeal Obamacare, neither has commented on the version of the American Health Care Act that passed the House two weeks ago.

President Trump: Both candidates have appealed to President Donald Trump’s 5th District supporters.

Norman has said his background as a real estate developer gives him “practical experience” similar to that of the real-estate mogul president. Pope, a former prosecutor, has aired ads striking a “law and order” theme similar to Trump, hitting on illegal immigration and the need to “destroy ISIS.”

▪ The winner of Tuesday’s runoff faces Democrat Archie Parnell in the June general election.

S.C. House 70

Infrastructure: Residents in Lower Richland and the western part of Sumter County say the area is in need of improved utilities.

Hill has focused on bringing an affordable clean water and sewer system to the area. Brawley opposed a previous Richland County plan that many residents objected to, saying it was too costly and could bring unwanted development.

Big shoes to fill: Whoever wins the primary will be trying to replace longtime state Rep. Joe Neal, who passed away earlier this year. A minister and civil rights activist, Neal held the seat for almost 25 years, pushing to improve drinking water, expand health care and HIV prevention, and curtail racial profiling in law enforcement.

Minimum wage: Brawley has talked about plans to increase the state’s minimum wage, saying that move — improbable in a GOP-controlled Legislature — would help “many people living in poverty from generation to generation.” She has been endorsed by the S.C. Progressive Network and the Progressive Legislative Caucus, which was co-founded by Neal.

▪ The winner of Tuesday’s runoff faces Republican Bill Strickland of Sumter in the June general election.

Runoffs Tuesday

What: Runoffs for the Republican nomination for Congress in the 5th District and Democratic nomination for the S.C. House District 70 seat are on the ballot Tuesday.

When: Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Where: The 5th District covers all of Cherokee, Chester, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lee, Union and York counties, as well as parts of Newberry, Spartanburg and Sumter counties.

House District 70 covers Lower Richland and western Sumter County

Who: All registered voters in the districts are eligible to vote as long as they did not vote in the other party’s May 2 primary.