Laura Washington: Millionaire Wilson: ‘Why not’ seek presidency?

SHARE Laura Washington: Millionaire Wilson: ‘Why not’ seek presidency?

Willie Wilson moved on from losing the mayoral election by seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Photo by Mitch Dudek, Sun-Times.

“Why not?”

That was Willie Wilson’s reply when asked why he is running for president of the United States.

Why not pursue a more attainable office, like alderman, state senator or mayor?

Oh, right. He already tried that.


Wilson is dusting off the old saddle. Earlier this year, the wealthy boot-strap-up businessman spent more than $1 million of his own cash in Chicago’s mayoral election.Now he’s back, and he’s nationwide.On Monday, flanked by several dozen supporters, Wilson announced that he would run in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries.

Why start at the top? “I wasn’t brought here to start at the bottom,”WBBM Newsradio reported Wilson as saying.

His opening volley suggests this campaign will mirror the messaging of his mayoral bid: Wilson will pitch education, jobs and reiterate his storybook success.

“I am proof of the American dream,” he declared.

Wilson’s down-home, folksy style is an asset. Born poor in Louisiana and raised by sharecropper parents, Wilson once mopped floors at a McDonald’s. “I know all about flippin’ burgers,” he saidMonday. The African-American entrepreneur went on to make millions as a Mickey D’s franchise operator.

Now the CEO of a medical supply company and TV producer, he has donated $15 million to churches and other faith-based charities. He lost a son to gang violence.

Wilson also possesses an enormous ego, likely fueled by his many allies with their palms out.

Why not?

Who can resist running for president, and the joys it brings?Two years of 18-hour days, incessant political attacks, invasions of privacy, excruciating pressure to raise money, and tons of corn dogs and doughnuts.

Three Democrats have announced they will take on Ms. Destiny, otherwise known as Hillary Clinton.

At least 15 Republicans are either declared or mulling a run, according to the New York Times.

The Times did not even mention Willie Wilson as a declared candidate.Those East Coast snobs!

Wilson’s mayoral effort was criticized as unfocused and naïve.He won 10 percent of the vote, then assured he would be a kingmaker, endorsing Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in theApril 7runoff.

Garcia lost by 11 points.

Still, Wilson’s new venture could be fascinating. He wants “to put America first,” he said. “I believe we can recover at least $5.5 billion from foreign aid and give a portion of it to rebuilding Ferguson and Baltimore instead of Baghdad.”

He pledges to put prayer back in American schools. He is borrowing from the repertoire of disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, promising all senior citizens would ride free on public transportation. His campaign slogan: “We Still Believe.” Sound familiar?

Wilson may surprise the skeptics. After his announcement, he hit Davenport, Iowa, to campaign for the first-in-the-nation caucuses.He met with the city’s mayor, several ministers and spoke at an African-American church, according to local media reports.

Iowa cities like Davenport and Waterloo have significant black populations. Those are must-have voters for Hillary Clinton.The Clintons have had a lukewarm reception in Iowa.

At the Third Missionary Baptist Church in Davenport, Wilson said, “I am going to run as a regular, regular, human being.”

Now that would be a new kind of presidential candidate.


Twitter: @MediaDervish

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