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Brawley finishes a strong first, faces Hill in SC House runoff

Wendy Brawley accepts the endorsement of the family of late Rep. Joe Neal and the S.C. Progressive Network at a State House press conference ahead of the Democratic primary.
Wendy Brawley accepts the endorsement of the family of late Rep. Joe Neal and the S.C. Progressive Network at a State House press conference ahead of the Democratic primary. bmarchant@thestate.com

Democrats in a Midlands district will need a runoff to decide their candidate for an S.C. House seat, but one candidate still scored a strong result in Tuesday’s special election primary.

Wendy Brawley was the clear leader in the Democratic primary, finishing with 40 percent of the vote and running well ahead of Heath Hill, who ended up in second place with 24 percent of the vote.

Brawley and Hill will face each other for the nomination in a May 16 runoff.

The seat came open in February with the death of longtime state Rep. Joe Neal, D-Richland.

Neal, a pastor and champion of civil rights, had been in the House since 1992 representing District 70, which covers Lower Richland and the western part of Sumter County.

Brawley received the endorsement of Neal’s family, as well as the S.C. Progressive Network and members of the State House’s Progressive Legislative Caucus, a group Neal co-founded.

A Hopkins resident, Brawley 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, an Eastover farmer, is president of the Tri-County Electric Cooperative board of directors.

Other candidates in the Democratic primary were Norman Jackson Jr., Patrick Morris, Harry Reese Sr., Levola Taylor, Jermaine Walker and George Wilson.

Republican Bill Strickland of Sumter will face the winner of the Democratic race in the June 20 general election.

District 70 race

Democratic nomination

Wendy Brawley: 40 percent

Heath Hill: 24 percent

Levola Taylor: 13 percent

Norman Jackson Jr.: 10 percent

Jermaine Walker: 8 percent

George Wilson: 3 percent

Patrick Morris: 1 percent

Harry Reese: 1 percent

SOURCE: S.C. Election Commission

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