The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Can We Skip a Step in Covering Famous Sons?


The race for South Carolina state attorney general hasn’t really been a
top-tier race needing national attention, but it has come up in my chats in Palmetto State GOP circles. One candidate in the race has always been described to me as “Congressman Joe Wilson’s son.”

The Washington Post writes about the race today, and there’s something intriguing in the way they frame the fact that both candidates have prominent older relatives:

Joe Wilson’s stepson vs. insurance mogul’s son-in-law in South Carolina runoff

The Post is perfectly accurate when it describes Alan Wilson as Joe Wilson’s stepson, but I find it interesting that the prefix was dropped in all conversations I had in local circles. (I think eventually someone mentioned that Alan Wilson’s mother was a widow with a child when the congressman married her.) In the article, Leighton Lord remarks, “he has the full advantage of his father yelling at the president.”

Every adoptive father I know refers to his sons as his “sons,” not his “stepsons.” The Post isn’t being deliberately insensitive, and I suppose the AP stylebook is in the accuracy business, not the sensitivity business. But it just hits the ear a little awkwardly, and perhaps unnecessarily.

UPDATE: A reader argues that the term “stepson” is not the most accurate term: “Stepson refers to a spouse’s child who is not biological. Adopted son refers to a child for whom a parent or parents have gone through the legal process to adopt as if he/she was their own.”

Tags: Alan Wilson , Joe Wilson , Leighton Lord


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