Gloves are off in GOP attorney general's race - - Columbia, South Carolina

Gloves are off in GOP attorney general's race

Leighton Lord Leighton Lord
Alan Wilson Alan Wilson

By Jody Barr - email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The closest statewide runoff is between the two men vying to be next attorney general. Only 7,000 votes separated Alan Wilson and Leighton Lord.

Lord runs one of the largest law firms in the state. He's never prosecuted a case, but he says that doesn't matter when it comes to running the state's attorney general's office. As AG, it's all about leading lawyers.

"I'm the only one who's got executive experience and we can talk about all the other little details, but if you cannot run the office, you can't lead the office, you will get nothing done and Alan has no experience in running anything," said Lord.

Wilson says what matters is courtroom experience. He's worked as an assistant solicitor, and currently is in private practice.

"There is no substitute, I'm the only candidate in this race that has law enforcement experience, period," said Wilson. "I'm the only candidate in this race that was a prosecutor and has prosecutor experience, period."

Both men took the state in Tuesday's primary, with Wilson winning 21 counties, and Lord taking 20.

With 11 days left until the primary runoff, voters are having to take a closer look at the candidates. To say that the gloves are off in this race would be an understatement.

A new video blasts Wilson, saying he's benefited from his family's name. Wilson is the son of Congressman Joe Wilson.

The video, released last month, depicts Wilson as a "daddy's boy" who's benefited from his father's political position. It accuses Wilson of getting jobs, loans, and favors, all from his dad's name.

"The majority of those things they claim were given to me were done prior to my dad being elected to Congress," said Wilson.

Wilson says the video came from Lord's camp, a claim Lord denies.

"I absolutely did not," said Lord. "I told Alan to his face that it did not come from our campaign, my campaign did not produce it, didn't make it, didn't pay for it."

Lord's camp says Wilson's delay in responding to Sen. Jake Knotts' endorsement is also a major issue in the campaign.

"You'll be judged by who you associate with," said Lord. "Jake Knotts held a fundraiser for him, Jake Knotts has escorted Alan in legislative receptions, it's more than just an endorsement, it's a close family relationship."

Wilson renounced Knotts' endorsement Friday, eight days after Wilson listed Knotts in an email of named endorsements. The email came out June 3, the day Knotts called Nikki Haley and the president "ragheads." Wilson says the delay came because he simply didn't know about Knotts' racial slur.

"I'm very busy, I'm traveling the state, being with the people of South Carolina," said Wilson. "When I found out about it, I was disheartened about it."

As for leading the AG's office, voters will have to decide between prosecutorial experience, and executive experience.

"Sixty-three percent of the people who voted say that they believe the next attorney general should be a prosecutor and that's from all over the state and I think that's a very telling sign about where this campaign is headed," said Wilson.

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