Chicago Democrat Willie Wilson's Longshot Bid For The WhiteHouse

Mar 7, 2016

Willie Wilson campaigned at Democrats' event at the Illinois State Fair over the summer, but was not given a speaking role at the rally.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

If you vote in Illinois March 15, most of the names you'll see at the top of the ticket are well-known. Others, less so.

Hillary Clinton is not the only candidate with Illinois ties running for President; Illinois Democrats next week can also cast a vote for Willie Wilson.

In Chicago, the name "Willie Wilson" may ring a bell; he finished a distant third in the city's race for mayor last year.

Now, he's aiming for the White House.

He hasn't received much attention or support from the establishment, and says party leaders have kept him off stage for major events.

Wilson says it was the same in the early days of Barack Obama's candidacy. Wilson says he tells voters he's running because anything can happen if you try.

"If you don't try you can be sure ain't nothing going to happen, you know. So I believe in America, the future, land of opportunity," he said. "You just don't sit around complaint. You go out and you do something about it and participate in the process."

Wilson grew up poor, but now owns a company he says does 60 million dollars in sales. Wilson has traveled the country as part of his largely self-funded campaign. He says his wealth means he won't be bought by major corporations.

Wilson, who is black, says he's running because African Americans and other parts of America aren't being heard.

"One is the inner city -- the urban, the poor, the minority. That's not been talked about enough," he said in an interview. 

Democratic party leaders have kept him out of debates citing poor polling numbers; Wilson says he's been left out of polls in the first place.

Wilson says he's thankful for his good fortune in life, and by running for President, he's giving back. His platform includes forgiving all student loan debt.

A couple other, less familiar names are also on the ballot as Democratic candidates. Lawrence "Larry" Cohen, is from Chicago, but doesn't appear to have an active campaign, or even a website.

Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente, a California businessman, is also running in Illinois. He claims to have a more interrelated and practical platform than his more well-known opponents.

Voters pulling Republican primary ballots will have a lot of choices, too -- including the names of, and delegates for, candidates who have dropped out of the race.