Politics & Government

Wilson, Bjorn square off in policy-heavy 2nd District debate

Policy details were heavy and personal attacks light as U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson debated his two challengers at River Bluff High School four days before the Nov. 8 election.

The Springdale Republican, seeking his eighth full term, laid out his vision of limited government, a stronger military, and more job creation from fewer taxes and regulations.

Speaking before 650 Lexington 1 School District students, Democrat Arik Bjorn of Columbia, a librarian, pushed for rebuilding infrastructure, expanding health-care access, and building a “knowledge-based economy” with more jobs in medicine, information technology and research.

American Party candidate Eddie McCain, a retired Army sergeant, detailed his brand of constitutionalism in which Congress’ role in everyday life is limited and the right to keep a gun is sacred.

Both challengers took occasional shots at Wilson’s track record.

Bjorn painted the 2nd District as marked by high unemployment and limited access to health care. McCain took aim at trade deals that he says have cost S.C. jobs.

But the live-streamed debate was short of the Internet-ready take-down rhetoric of the presidential election.

“That was our intent,” said Mike Burgess, a River Bluff teacher and the event’s organizer, “that — in a season where we heard debates on the national level about everything but policy — we would hold a real, live, true-to-the-origins-of-democracy debate on the issues.”

The 2nd District has not elected a Democrat since the early 1960s.

Avery G. Wilks: 803-771-8362, @averygwilks

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