U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-St. Clairsville, and Republican challenger Bill Johnson rallied supporters in Gallipolis and Pomeroy, respectively, Thursday afternoon. Wilson met with Gallia County Democrats at the party headquarters in Gallipolis, while Johnson addressed a crowd of Meigs County residents that gathered on the public parking lot in Pomeroy.
When Johnson, R-Poland, stepped off his RV in Pomeroy on Thursday afternoon, the first thing he noticed might’ve been the Ohio River, but the first thing he heard were complaints from Meigs County Republican faithful about a federal government they feel is out of touch and out of control.
Johnson passed around “American Excess” credit cards to promote not only his candidacy but his opinion on what he feels is out of control spending in Washington, D.C. The back of the “credit card” says it’s not valid unless signed by President Barack Obama and Wilson. The card then states in “the not so small print” that “it’s our tax dollars funding their shopping spree.”
Johnson said if elected, he would work to balance the budget, reduce the tax burden and work with (who he hopes will be the next governor) John Kasich, R-Westerville, to make the Sixth District a business-friendly place. Johnson said there is a “wealth of a trained workforce that knows how to manufacture” in the district; a workforce that needs jobs.
“Government needs to walk beside business, not on their backs,” Johnson said, explaining he hears hesitation from entrepreneurs in the district who want to grow but are distrustful of “what the federal government is going to do.”
Johnson said one of the many fundamental differences between himself and Wilson is his belief in a smaller, less intrusive government. He then accused Wilson of supporting what he called “Nancy Pelosi’s job-killing policies,” saying 400,000 jobs had left Ohio and the unemployment rate had increased significantly in the Sixth District with Wilson in office. Johnson then pointed out Wilson voted for “Obamacare” (the health care bill), a bill which he said will tax small businesses, again “killing jobs.”
Johnson explained the biggest complaint he hears about Wilson while traveling the district is, “He says one thing when he’s here but when he goes to Washington, he does something else.”
What Johnson will do if elected remains to be seen.
Wilson’s stop in Gallia County came on the heels of visits to two locations in the Sixth District where positive announcements were made concerning job creation. On Wednesday, he was in Lordstown where GM announced the creation of 5,000 jobs at its plant there. On Thursday, just prior to the Gallipolis visit, Wilson was in Piketon where USEC announced the creation of 160 jobs pertaining to uranium cleanup.
“I think there’s some good things happening,” Wilson said. “Most of the time, we’re being met with very hopeful and good facts of job recovery. I think that’s what our country needs right now. We need to work our way out of this recession. I think it begins with getting back to building it America. The sooner we do that the better off we’re going to be. We are working in Congress now to close the tax loopholes that encourage people to send business offshore. We’re going to get it done.”
Wilson said Congress is also working to help small business by allowing owners to pay off loans in an easier fashion and making more funds available for small businesses.
“We think somewhere between 60-70 percent of our nw jobs are going to come from small business,” he said.
Wilson said unemployment remains the hot topic on the campaign trail.
“The unemployment numbers are under 10 (percent); we’d like to see them under 8 (percent),” he said. “It’s not happening fast enough. That’s the reason for more incentives. Jobs are what it’s all about. If we get jobs, I think all the other issues will start taking care of themselves.
“When people go back to work, they’ll begin paying taxes, which is going to lower the deficit, which is going to begin the recovery of our economy,” he added. “And education, healthcare, everything else, all fit when people are working. I think that’s the major key.”
Wilson and Johnson are facing opposition from Constitution candidate Richard E. Cadle and Libertarian candidate Martin J. Elsass.