LISBON - Former Congressman Charlie Wilson would like another shot at the man who denied him a third term, current U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson. But first the men each will face challengers in the primary election March 6.
Wilson, a Democrat, faces Cas Adulewicz. Johnson, a Republican, is challenged by Victor Smith.
Wilson cites the low approval rating of Congress (9 percent) as one of the big reasons he believes the 6th District voters will return a Democrat to the office which was held by a Democrat for 52 years. Wilson said he can present the argument that the current Congress is ineffective and a change needs to be made to get things done.
"We weren't extremists," Wilson said comparing his four years in Congress to the current situation. "We weren't obstructionists. I hope people will look at it and put some of us back."
Wilson lost his bid for re-election in 2010 by only 3 percent during a time when many people frustrated with the way things were going voted out many Democrats across the country. He adds the 6th District is one of the key ones believed winnable by his party members.
"I just think there is so much work to be done," Wilson said. "I'm an agreeable person. I will use my ability to compromise I learned as a small businessman to get done what's right for America, not necessarily what's for the (parties)."
Johnson responded to the criticism by attacking Wilson's record during his time in Congress.
"Charlie Wilson's assertions are absolutely laughable," Johnson said, adding Wilson was a career politician for 16 years who voted for Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi's policies. That included the stimulus bill which Johnson said killed more jobs than it created, the bailouts and the health care law, which he criticized for placing the health care of our seniors at risk.
Johnson said there are two chambers of the U.S. Congress and he would agree with Wilson that the U.S. Senate is ineffective. While the House of Representatives continues to send job-creating policies to the Senate for consideration, he said, Harry Reid and the Democrat-led Senate just leave them "stacked up like cord wood."
Johnson said his most recent bill has been an attempt to get a Congressional budget passed, something that has not happened in more than a 1,000 days. The bill proposes to stop paying Congress members after April 15 if the budget remains unpassed, using the unpaid salaries to start repaying the national debt.
He has blasted Obama for failing to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. He also wants natural gas drillers to employ Ohio residents as they begin horizontal drilling.
Johnson has also criticized over-regulation by the federal government, saying it is costing jobs. In a recent editorial in the Steubenville Herald-Star, Johnson pointed out the Small Business Administration estimates such regulations are costing taxpayers $1.75 trillion annually. Johnson concludes regulations are harming the coal industry in eastern Ohio and making it difficult to start new business or hire new employees.
"This administration's policies have hurt America," Johnson said. "I just don't see people of the 6th District rehiring Charlie Wilson anytime soon."
Before Johnson and Wilson will get a chance to rematch, they both face other opponents in the March 6 primary. Wilson will face Adulewicz, a Steubenville attorney, who has unsuccessfully run for public office before.
Wilson said he has known Adulewicz for a long time and calls him a nice guy. He said he does not have anything bad to say about him, only hoping to get past him without an issue.
Adulewicz calls himself a fiscal conservative who would like to see the country cut back on the overseas financial burden. While he does not want to see the military "gutted" and the country's security jeopardized, Adulewicz said he believes it is time to stop giving money to countries that do not like us or having full armies in parts of the world where there is little threat to our interests.
Additionally, Adulewicz said he is pro life, believes in the right to bear arms and supports prayer in schools. He is not in favor of the current health care reform.
"I would like to see that whole Obamacare thing shaken up," Adulewicz said, adding, "There are good doctors in this country and these (decisions) should be left to the doctors."
An Ohio State graduate who had a football scholarship and played for Woody Hayes, Adulewicz said coach Hayes and the other coaches he had throughout school were a big influence in his life. However, it was a dean at Ohio State who convinced him it was important for attorneys to also provide a public service in their time.
"What better way to give back than to go down to Washington and shake some cages," Adulewicz said.
Johnson will be facing Smith in the Republican primary. Smith lives in Waterford, a small town just north of Marietta in Washington County. Like Johnson, Smith is retired military. He is a West Point Military Academy graduate. Later Smith became a professional engineer, working currently as a consulting engineer for Apex Engineering.
He also was one of the leaders who organized petition drives in 2010 to get the health care freedom bill on the ballot, which later passed throughout Ohio.
Smith also believes in the importance of the horizontal gas drilling projects to Ohio's economy. Smith said it is necessary to keep the Environmental Protection Agency from over-regulating the industry and the way to do that is by defunding the EPA.
"You allow the development of the Utica Shale and jobs take care of themselves," Smith said, adding both Johnson and Wilson wrongly think jobs are created by the government.
Smith criticizes Johnson for voting to spend money, especially allowing the increases of the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion in August 2011 and an additional $1.3 trillion later.
"Bill Johnson has voted to spend money faster than Charlie Wilson ever did," Smith said, adding Johnson is not a conservative, something he said many Republicans backing him do not realize. "I'm not speaking ill of a Republican. I'm speaking of a person who does not exercise conservative principles."
He also points out that Johnson's bill to make members of Congress go without their salaries when they do not pass a budget actually will have no real impact on the national debt. According to Smith's calculations all those salaries placed in a bucket for 13.6 years would pay only one day's interest on the $14.3 trillion national debt.
"It's a ludicrous dog and pony show," Smith said. "You have to cut programs. You have to cut expenditures. There is only one conservative on the ballot."
Smith is concerned the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 has given too much power to Obama and to use the military to arrest those Americans suspected of terrorism without an indictment. Johnson has denied the lengthy bill gives that authority.
Smith said he hopes those who believe in conservative principles and the Constitution will consider voting for him in the primary.
"I'm asking for those folks to take out a Republican ballot and vote for the Victor," said Smith, whose website is voteforthevictor.com.