Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Chicago has a presidential contender. But he sure ain’t no Barack Obama

WILSON: Mr. President? Or Mr. Dreamer?
Well, he did it.

Willie Wilson, that is. And I’m not referring to the one-time Kansas City Royals outfielder who also played for a stint with the Chicago Cubs.

YOU REMEMBER WILLIE. He’s the guy who ran for Chicago mayor and took just enough of the black voter bloc that Rahm Emanuel finished with less than 50 percent – forcing the electoral run-off against Jesus Garcia.

Wilson, the guy who took a South Side McDonald’s franchise and turned it into a personal fortune and a business that makes medical supplies, said way back last summer he was going to run for president in this year’s election cycle.

We laughed. Yet on Monday, Wilson was one of two Democrats (Hillary Clinton is the other) who filed the nominating petitions with the Illinois State Board of Elections to get himself a spot on the Democratic ballot for the March 15 primary in this state.

Monday was the first day for filing petitions and candidates have until Friday to do so. So we may still hear from Bernie Sanders and the other Democratic clowns who have dreams of succeeding Barack Obama as president.

BUT WILLIE WILSON beat them all to the punch. While we were focusing on Hillary and the way Bernie felt the need to dis Rahm Emanuel, Wilson managed to get signatures of support on nominating petitions.

Admittedly, Hillary or her allies could decide to challenge his petitions to try to get him knocked off the ballot. But for now, he will be in the mix. We in Illinois will have to start acknowledging his presence – which I’m sure provides the massive ego boost that I’m sure is his ultimate motive for wanting to run for office.

CLINTON: How soon will she try to dump Willie?
In that regard, he’s nothing more than Donald Trump. Running for office gives him a jolt – and a chance to give a kick in the pants to those political people who peeve him.

Of course, there’s a reason Wilson’s presidential campaign efforts have received so little attention – he’s not campaigning anywhere else.

AS OF THE way things are shaping up now, he will be on the ballot in Illinois in March, and nowhere else. Nobody else in the United States will have the chance to even think of casting ballots for him.

Which I’m sure he doesn’t really care about. He can walk about his South Side home and have his neighbors point to him as a presidential candidate. He can boast of a campaign operation centered around a Wacker Drive address downtown.

SANDERS: Will he remain above the fray?
He may even try to claim he’s the next Barack Obama – offering us the chance to have a taste of the Sout’ Side (even if Obama’s version is also heavily-flavored with Polynesian influences) in charge at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Although it takes quite a stretch to make the comparison between the Harvard Law-educated Obama and the guy from the Deep South who openly boasts he never got more than a 7th Grade education (and whose speech definitely proves that fact).

ACTUALLY, I’M CURIOUS to see what the official Democratic response to Wilson will be. Will they let him coast onto the ballot figuring that nobody outside of a few select wards in Chicago will actually pay attention to him? Or will we get the hard-core press to drive him off the ballot.

EMANUEL: Will Rahm do Clinton's dirty work?
Let’s not forget that was the Emanuel campaign’s initial reaction when he filed his nominating petitions to run for mayor, only to have Rahm and his allies decide to let him flop on his own. Which did or did not happen – depending on whose perspective one wants to believe.

Would it be a Bernie backer, setting aside the idealism they like to tout to play hard-ball politics with Willie? Or would it be a Clinton supporter who would want to prevent Wilson from tainting the March 15 ballot in Illinois?

If so, would Hillary turn to Rahm and his people to swat at the fly that is the Wilson presidential campaign – perhaps in the way they wish they now had done back in the 2015 municipal election cycle?


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