BRIDGEPORT - Former Rep. Charles Wilson voted in favor of health care reform and the bailout of the auto industry while a member of Congress, but he said there are issues on which he disagrees with the policies of the Obama administration.
The Democrat said he is proud of his votes while in Congress, and said he always sought to vote with the people of his district.
"I have voted against the president on several things, and the biggest one for our area was against cap and trade," Wilson said. "I was lobbied very hard on cap and trade. I viewed it as a tax on energy, and there was no way I was going to support it and vote against the people of my district.
"I voted against my party and the president. He and I don't agree with trade policies - he has supported some I don't agree with. I'm a strong advocate for making it in America. I don't agree with NAFTA, CAFTA or any other 'AFTA.' I feel we need to take care of ourselves - that we need to have our trade policies not only to be free, but to be fair."
Wilson is again seeking election in Ohio's 6th Congressional District after losing to Republican Bill Johnson in 2010.
"I feel he didn't necessarily get voted for, as much as I was voted against," Wilson said. "There was a perfect storm - a tsunami that happened. I truly believe from the results we're getting ... a large percentage of people want Charlie Wilson back. (In 2010) I think they believed all the hype that was wrong and bad."
Wilson said he was criticized then for his vote to bail out the auto industry, but he said time has proven his vote correct.
Since then General Motors has regained its ranking as the top auto manufacturer in the world, and the company has paid back its loan with interest. He believes hundreds of thousands of jobs were saved across the nation through the bailout, including 100,000 in Ohio.
"They (opponents) said, 'Just let it work itself out,'" Wilson continued. "I'm here to tell you, a place like Whitesides in St. Clairsville would look like a skating rink if we did that. There would be nothing going on there - maybe some used car business."
Wilson also believes he voted the right way in support of health care reform legislation.
But while he supported such measures in the bill as requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and allowing college-age children to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26, he said he would have preferred other provisions to be phased in over time.
"When it came back from the Senate it was 'take it or leave it, here is the way it's going to be,'" Wilson said. "As people have come to learn more about it, they have become more pleased with it. But I think since the decision has been made by the Supreme Court (to uphold most of the new health care law), we have to get on with job one - and that's jobs, getting our economy rebuilt and getting ourselves out of the fix we're in."
About 30 percent of the residents in Ohio's 6th District live in union households, according to Wilson. He expects these voters will turn out in November, and many don't support the policies of the Obama administration.
"What I've always tried to do was vote the people of my district," he continued. "Being a businessman from here, I know what it has happened to our economy. I don't think anyone feels it any better than I would as a furniture dealer. It's hard to sell couches to unemployed people. I feel like I had some personal responsibility because I'm from this community. And nobody is going to feel it worse than an independent businessman in this community."