Two former prosecutors and the head of one of the state's largest law firms are vying for the Republican nomination to become South Carolina's next attorney general.
Robert Bolchoz, Leighton Lord and Alan Wilson all hail from the Columbia area. They don't have wide name recognition, but each said he has the experience, drive and legal acumen to replace two-term Attorney General Henry McMaster, who is running for governor.
Bolchoz and Wilson tout their extensive experience trying criminal court cases, while Lord highlights his leadership skills managing a large legal firm, Nexsen Pruet. None of the candidates has held elected office before.
Bolchoz, 46, is a former Charleston County and federal prosecutor who served as chief deputy attorney general under Charlie Condon in the late 1990s. He vows to fight for additional resources for police, prosecutors and prisons; protect children from Internet predators; and work to reduce bureaucratic regulation that hampers economic development.
"I have prosecuted almost 1,000 criminal cases and worked for a major international corporation (ING)," Bolchoz said. "I have a very broad background in criminal and civil law that is lacking in both my opponents."
Lord, a Santee Cooper board member and managing partner of Nexsen Pruet, helped negotiate the deal that brought Boeing's 787 plant to North Charleston. Among other things, he wants to go after gangs; eliminate bail, probation and parole for violent offenders; and fight to protect the state's water rights and natural resources.
"I'm the only guy who has run a major legal practice," Lord, 47, said. "If you don't have someone to lead and run it, no matter how great the ideas are, you'll never get those ideas off the table."
Wilson, son of U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, is a 36-year-old former Lexington County prosecutor and assistant attorney general who works for a civil litigation firm. He pledges to be a hands-on attorney general who can "step into a courtroom and lead by example." He also touts his service as a National Guard major who pulled a year's tour in Iraq.
"I've actually led soldiers under fire, and I know how to make tough decisions," Wilson said.
The latest campaign finance reports, filed in early April, show Wilson with the largest war chest, with $459,198 raised and $386,300 on hand. A loan accounted for $250,000 of that money.
Lord had raised $426,760 in contributions and had $284,118 on hand. Bolchoz had raised $286,528 and had $204,494 on hand.
Bolchoz has picked up an endorsement from Condon. Lord has the backing of former U.S. Attorney Pete Strom and Greenville Mayor Knox White. Wilson has been endorsed by 29 of the state's 46 sheriffs, including L.C. Knight in Dorchester County and Wayne Dewitt in Berkeley County.
The trio face off June 8 in the GOP primary. The winner takes on Democratic candidate Matthew Richardson, who has no opposition in his party's primary, in the Nov. 2 general election.