Richland and Sumter county voters overwhelmingly backed a magazine publisher as the Democratic choice in the race for the late State Rep. Joe Neal’s former seat.
Wendy Brawley won 70 percent of the vote Tuesday in the largely-rural district southeast of Columbia, defeating farmer Heath Hill’s 30 percent. Brawley and Hill were the two finalists for the runoff after no candidate received a majority of the vote in the May 2 primary.
She will be heavily favored when she faces Republican candidate Bill Strickland in next month’s special election for the largely-Democratic district. Strickland is a retired Army veteran who serves as the Sumter County Republican Party’s treasurer.
Brawley, chief executive of IMARA Woman magazine, is the former Richland County School District One chairwoman. She had been the favored candidate among progressive groups in the district and had the backing of Neal’s family. She had been the clear frontrunner after receiving 40 percent of the initial vote two weeks ago.
“WE WON BIG!” Brawley posted on Facebook following her victory. “We had a great day yesterday, winning the Democratic Primary with more than 70% of the vote!! Thank you to my awesome volunteers who braved the 90 degree heat to bring home an incredible win!”
Neal had represented the district for 24 years until his death in February following a stroke. He was 66 years old.