Wilson calls loss ‘shocking, surreal’

By David Skolnick



U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson said he has a difficult time accepting his loss to Republican Bill Johnson.

Losing was “much harder than I thought,” Wilson, D-6th, said Friday in his first press interview since that defeat more than a month ago. “It was very surreal. I never had anything like that happen. It was just shocking.”

Wilson, of St. Clairsville, had won every other political race he’d been in: four for the Ohio House, one for the state Senate and two for the U.S. House.

Wilson expected a close race with Johnson of Poland and to win by 5 percentage points to 7 percentage points. Instead, Johnson beat Wilson by 5 percentage points in the Nov. 2 election.

“When we saw results from around the country with my colleagues losing, we knew there was a wave coming,” he said.

That “wave” includes 85 new freshmen Republicans in the U.S. House, including Johnson.

Wilson said one reason he lost his bid for a third two-year term in Congress was that “the electorate was angry even though we did a lot of good things.”

But “it was not quite enough to do away with the idea that people were hurting,” he added.

When asked about the failures of Democrats in this election, Wilson said, “We should have never ever let health-care [reform] drag on for a year. It should have been voted on immediately. Then we could get back to focusing on job creation.”

Wilson spoke to Johnson on the night of the election to congratulate him but hasn’t talked to him since.

When his term is up at the end of the month, Wilson said he plans to return to St. Clairsville and work at his family businesses: a funeral home and a furniture store.

A statewide redistricting of congressional and state legislative boundaries will be done by Republicans for the 2012 election. Depending on where lines are drawn, Wilson said, “There may be opportunities” for him to run for a political position. Wilson didn’t rule out a return to Congress or the state Legislature.

Wilson said he may find life away from politics to be to his liking and decide not to run for another position.

Also, Wilson apologized to The Vindicator for taking more than a month to return numerous telephone calls from the newspaper to discuss the defeat and his future plans.

“I have no excuse for it except all of our people were emotionally fired up,” he said. “I apologize. I didn’t handle it well. I feel so bad. For me to not respond was wrong.”

Wilson closed four of his five district offices Friday, including those in Canfield and Wellsville. The remaining office in Bridgeport closes Dec. 17.

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