Republican Alan Wilson contends the experience he gained in the courtroom and on the battlefield makes him the most qualified candidate to become South Carolina's top prosecutor.

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 in Columbia. He beat back two challengers in a hard-fought primary to claim the Republican nomination in June.

Wilson touts his time spent "in the trenches" of the criminal justice system prosecuting cases and working as an analyst for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He pledges to be a hands-on attorney general who can step into a courtroom and lead by example. He also points to endorsements he received from two-thirds of the state's 46 sheriffs.

Wilson said he has gained valuable leadership skills as well through his 15 years of service with the National Guard, where he is a major. He pulled a year's tour of duty in Iraq and received the combat action badge.

"Anyone can say they are going to fight for people and keep you safe, but I have done it before," he said. "I have done it on the battlefield, serving my country, and I have done it in the courtroom. I am proven in this area."

Aside from protecting the public from criminals, Wilson said, he believes the attorney general must be on guard against federal actions that threaten to erode state sovereignty.

Wilson supports Arizona's new immigration law, which among other things would require police there to check the legal status of immigrants while enforcing other laws.

On the flip side, Wilson has "serious concerns" about this year's federal health care reform act, which includes a provision requiring people to purchase health insurance or face penalties.

"As a state, we need to stand up to the federal government and say 'We will fight this.' "

AGE: 36

FAMILY: Wife, Jennifer, and two children

RESIDENCE: Lexington

OCCUPATION: Attorney, Willoughby and Hoefer

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts, Francis Marion University, 1996; law degree, University of South Carolina, 2002

PUBLIC OFFICES: None

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.wilsonforag.com

Contact: 803-753-7424

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or gsmith@postandcourier.com.