Willie Wilson's Campaign for Democratic Presidential Nomination Gets Little Coverage
Norman Parish | 7/15/2015, 12:15 p.m.
The National Urban League’s presidential candidate plenary appears to be star-studded.
Jeb Bush, Dr. Benjamin Carson, Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley have all confirmed to appear at the July 31st event in Florida, according to the League’s website.
But missing from the civil rights organization’s event: Willie Wilson, the Chicago millionaire businessman who officially announced his bid for president last month.
The apparent snub is one of several Wilson has received. In most national news telecasts about the Democratic presidential primary, his name isn’t mentioned.
“It has been disappointing,” said Wilson in an interview last week with the Chicago Citizen Newspaper. “They should be giving me the same treatment as the other guys. . . But we will do well.”
Wilson emerged on the Chicago political scene earlier this year as a candidate in the mayor’s race. In February, he finished third with nearly 11 percent of the vote behind Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. But he beat Chicago Ald. Bob Fioretti and candidate William “Dock” Walls.
The mayoral race quickly turned Wilson into a household name in Chicago.
But Wilson is rarely mentioned by political pontiffs discussing the Democratic presidential primary, which features front runner, Clinton, the former U.S. Secretary of State and ex-first lady.
“He is not recognizable outside of Chicago,” said Kelly Harris, associate professor of African-American studies at Chicago State University. “I don’t think he has a national profile. The national media tends to cover those who they think will win. …In Chicago, he got a lot of coverage.”
In terms of what challenges lie ahead of Wilson, Harris said, “He has a very, very, steep hill to climb for the Democratic nomination.” Harris said.
Wilson said he also has had problems getting information that he needs to contend in Democratic presidential primary from party officials.
At one point, he threatened legal action, but he said he eventually got what he needed.
Miryam Lipper, a Democratic National Committee spokeswoman, said: “We are not going to comment on any conversations with specific candidates.”
National Urban League officials failed to return phone calls by Chicago Citizen Newspaper deadline.
Wilson said despite the League’s rejection, he will continue to support the organization.
“I’ve always been a strong supporter of the Urban League as an international businessman, philanthropist and member of my local church community,” Wilson said. “My association with many of their leaders, both locally and nationally, has given me respect for their important work.”
Wilson added that he was invited to the Southern Christian Leadership Convention’s annual meeting in Louisiana “during the time of the [League’s annual conference]” but will attempt to visit the League’s event.
According to Wilson, he has also been invited to participate in the National Baptist and Progressive Baptist 2015 conventions and the National Black Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Wilson, who has owned several McDonald’s restaurant franchises, started a medical-supply company and an award winning Gospel television show. In the past, he has given as much as $1 million annually to charities and churches.
“The black churches are my underground railroad to bring America to a new freedom,” Wilson said.
In recent weeks, Wilson traveled to Iowa and New Hampshire and
traveled by train from Chicago to New York, greeting passengers as they boarded or left along the way. While in New Hampshire, Wilson said he had an interview with a television reporter who only aired the report on the Internet.
U.S. Rep Danny Davis (D-Ill.), who has worked with Wilson in the past, acknowledged the candidate is “strong-willed,” but has yet to announce who he is supporting in the presidential primary.
“We are not going to give up,” Wilson said. “There is no turning back.”