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Joe Walsh, Tio Hardiman and the paltry field of Republicans willing to challenge Donald Trump

The vast majority of politicians in The Party of Trump have been silent on this vile presidency.

Former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh
Former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh is weighing a Republican presidential primary challenge to Donald Trump.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Two boldface names from our own back yard are looking to take on Donald J. Trump.

One of the two erstwhile Chicago-area politicians made it official over the weekend that he is challenging Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination.

“I’m going to run for president. I’m going to challenge this guy,” former Congressman Joe Walsh told ABC “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos.

“We’ve got a guy in the White House who is unfit, completely unfit to be president, and it stuns me that nobody stepped up,” Walsh said Sunday.

Walsh represented the northwest suburbs in Congress for one term. Once a conservative tea party stalwart and Trump fan, Walsh has morphed into a sharp-tongued nationally syndicated talk show host. Now, Trump is his favorite target on air and Twitter, and boy, is Walsh prolific.

Tio Hardiman is not even a Republican. The Chicago anti-violence activist has run twice in Illinois’ Democratic gubernatorial primary. In 2018, he came in 4th, losing to J.B. Pritzker. When Hardiman took on Gov. Pat Quinn in 2014, he nabbed 28% of the primary vote.

Now Hardiman is switching sides and is forming an exploratory committee. “When I saw what happened in Texas, I decided I wanted to run on the Republican side,” Hardiman told Politico’s Illinois Playbook, in reference to the recent mass shooting in El Paso. “Donald Trump needs the competition.”

Walsh and Hardiman have a less-than-zero chance of depriving Trump of the nomination.

They possess neither the political standing nor profile to raise the tens of millions of dollars required to compete with an incumbent president, even this one.

They won’t be embraced by the GOP. They won’t be invited to nationally televised debates.

Hardiman has never been elected to office. Walsh couldn’t manage more than one term, losing his first reelection campaign to Tammy Duckworth in 2012. Both have combated personal controversies.

They are imperfect vessels for the dream of toppling Trump. But then, they would be up against the most imperfect president in American history.

They must be onto something. The Trump-worshiping GOP machine is pushing back.

Walsh’s pronouncement is just “a political stunt,” to boost the ratings of his radio show, Cook County Republican Party Chairman Sean Morrison told ABC-7.

A spokesman for the Trump campaign told The New York Times Walsh would be a “certain failure.”

That’s not the point. Walsh and Hardiman have mouths. Extremely big ones.

Walsh’s radio gig has finely tuned his verbal skills. He knows how to go for the oratorical jugular.

Hardiman is a street-wise guy who never met a camera he didn’t like. He can turn out a crowd.

They can ably and loudly talk, tweet and protest this vile presidency through next summer’s Republican National Convention and beyond.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld has declared he will run. Former South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich are reportedly looking at the race.

Their voices are among the pathetically paltry few. The vast majority of politicians in The Party of Trump have been silent as the president of the United States has demeaned and demonized immigrants, Latinos, African Americans, women, Muslims, Jews — just about every group in America — with the notable exception of white men.

We need every savvy, incisive and thunderous voice we can get to call this man out. And pray the voters will listen.

Follow Laura Washington on Twitter @MediaDervish

Laura Washington is a columnist for the Sun-Times and a political analyst for ABC 7-Chicago.

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