State House

Kirkman Finlay Files For South Carolina State House

Veteran lawmaker launches candidacy …

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Former South Carolina state representative Kirkman Finlay III filed paperwork last week to run for the S.C. House District 75 seat he held from 2012-2022.

The Columbia, S.C. businessman – who narrowly lost his reelection bid in 2022 – is expected to go up against incumbent representative Heather Bauer in November. First, though, Finlay must prevail in a Republican primary election this spring.

In announcing his candidacy, Finlay cited his extensive experience in representing the people of the Palmetto State’s capital city – which is often overlooked at the S.C. State House giving the growing clout of the Lowcountry and Upstate GOP delegations (and given the perpetual infighting among the Midlands’ Democratic leaders).

During his tenure in Columbia, Finlay made sure the Midlands was not overlooked.



“I’ve witnessed firsthand the importance of common sense, principled representation for our community,” Finlay said upon filing his paperwork. “If we don’t advocate for ourselves no one will, and Columbia will get neglected. We need effective leadership to secure the support necessary to elevate Columbia. That’s why I am running— to deliver results.”

In announcing his candidacy, Finlay received the endorsement of powerful S.C. speaker Murrell Smith – who praised his longtime colleague’s work on behalf of the Palmetto State’s capital city.

 “Kirkman Finlay’s record on economic development is second to none, he cares about creating and keeping jobs,” Smith said.

The speaker added Finlay “developed a reputation for forcing the General Assembly to prioritize the needs of the capital city.”

(Click to View)

House Speaker Murrell Smith during the first day of session in Columbia, S.C. on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024. (Travis Bell/STATEHOUSE CAROLINA)

Speaking of prioritization, Finlay forced this media outlet to start paying attention to the issue of judicial leniency – which has become a cause célèbre in recent years. It was Finlay who first drew our focus on this following the June 2013 murder of 33-year-old Kelly L. Hunnewell in a downtown Columbia, S.C. bakery.

Hunnewell, the mother of four young children, was working the early morning shift at the bakery when she was murdered by Lorenzo Bernard Young – a local gang member. Weeks earlier, Young was released from custody by former S.C. circuit court judge Alison Lee over the objections of prosecutors. At the time of his release, Young was facing charges of first degree burglary, possession of a weapon during violent crime, criminal conspiracy, three counts of armed robbery, kidnapping and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

Finlay’s advocacy thrust this issue onto the statewide stage for the first time – effectively launching the judicial reform movement in the Palmetto State.

After upsetting Finlay in 2022, Bauer has adopted his push for judicial reform. However, she drew criticism earlier this year when she helped force a qualified black judicial candidate out of a judicial race to clear a path for a white Democrat, former S.C. House minority leader James Smith.

That move is expected to come back to haunt her in a general election …




As for Finlay, he is no stranger to bouncing back after electoral defeats. He won election to the State House the year after losing a close race in 2011 for mayor of Columbia, S.C. – an office his late father, Kirkman Finlay Jr., held from 1978-1986. Prior to his mayoral campaign, Finlay spent four years on Columbia’s city council.

Last year, Finlay was touted by House leaders as a potential replacement for ousted former state comptroller general Richard Eckstrom – and quickly amassed enough votes to win an election. A handful of senators wanted to install their own candidate, however, and refused to schedule a vote. The ensuing impasse resulted in governor Henry McMaster installing a Democrat to serve as Eckstrom’s interim replacement.

Recent developments suggest installing Finlay on the panel would have been the best move …

The filing period for partisan primary elections began last Friday and closes at 12:00 p.m. EDT on April 1, 2024. Primaries will be held on June 11, 2024, and if no candidate receives a majority of ballots in a given race, runoff elections will be held two weeks later – on June 25, 2024.

BANNER: Travis Bell Columbia SC Photographers



(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.



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Squishy123 (the original) March 25, 2024 at 1:56 pm

I wouldn’t vote for him until he promises to bring back his Mexican restaurant that was in 5 Points.

Anonymous March 27, 2024 at 4:27 pm




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