Attorney general race is between the far right and the kinda right

Wilson floats jobs plan, Richardson challenges healthcare reform, illegals

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It would appear that people just aren't in the market right now for a lawyer.

Alan Wilson, the GOP nominee for the state's attorney general, is spending time on the campaign trail talking about creating jobs.

Wilson unveiled his "Taking Care of Business" plan earlier this month. Billing it as an effort to protect jobs and promote prosperity, Wilson was speaking in front of the South Carolina Civil Justice Coalition. He called the group "job creators" in a release following the event. We'd call them business lawyers and executives scared of what happens when you put an injured employee and a jury of their peers in the same room.

"The attorney general must understand that the courthouse is not the publisher's clearinghouse," Wilson said of his plan to cap workers' compensation payouts. "Protecting South Carolina requires a proven prosecutor capable of cracking down on crime as well as burdensome red tape that hinders job creation."

We're used to our fiercely political attorneys general kicking prostitutes off Craigslist or arresting cracked-out moms in the maternity ward, not lobbying for special interests.

"His jobs plan is political pandering to a tort reform crowd," says Democrat Matthew Richardson, Wilson's opponent in November. "We cannot play politics with this office."

Put another way, the attorney general shouldn't be trying to get away with, in Wilson's own words, "whatever is possible within the confines of the law" to promote an agenda. Big businesses pay big bucks to their own cadre of lawyers and lobbyists; they don't need one with a state paycheck.

Wilson did not return calls seeking an interview and the link to the jobs plan has been deleted from his website, wilsonforag.com. However, there are several references to Alan's father, Congressman Joe Wilson. There's also a note that Wilson believes "the separation of church and state is not a constitutional principle." That said, we couldn't find a link to Wilson's Church Plan, either.

Independent Democrat

Unfortunately for Wilson, this type of right-wing pandering plays into the hands of his moderate opponent. Richardson is politically savvy, but if he's partisan, he's really bad at it.

Republican Attorney General Henry McMaster has been a national leader in the challenge to federal healthcare reform, something he tried to leverage often in his failed gubernatorial run earlier this year.

Surprisingly, Richardson looks forward to continuing the fight, calling the law an "unprecedented federal intrusion."

"We need an answer about whether the federal government can control our lives," Richardson says.

On illegal immigration, he says the attorney general needs to hold the federal government accountable for enforcing the law. If it's not willing to do it, Richardson says Washington has to get out of the way and "give the state the training and resources to do it ourselves."

It was at this point that we literally mumbled, "Wow."

There's still a little blue in him, though. Richardson says he'll be an advocate for protecting the state's environment and natural resources.

But he's very sensitive to the fact that the office has been used as a political stepping stone for decades.

"What's most important is that we don't spend tax dollars for political grandstanding," he says. "I would be a strong independent attorney general, standing up to the extremes in both parties."

His day-to-day task if elected? Richardson says it won't be digging through the state's law books for potential anti-worker loopholes.

"The first role of the government is the security of our homes, our businesses, our streets, and our schools," Richardson says. "The attorney general plays a critical role in supporting law enforcement and local solicitors."

An attorney general candidate with a law enforcement plan. Who knew?

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