Crusader Staff Report
Fresh from the Labor Day weekend, businessman Willie Wilson on Tuesday, September 3, announced his campaign to run for the U.S. Senate in his penthouse near Streeterville. Wilson is running as an independent to challenge veteran Senator Dick Durbin, who has served 22 years in office.
But can Wilson unseat Durbin, whom Blacks have kept in office for over two decades?
“I am sick and I am tired of the same ol’ politicians like Senator Dick Durbin taking advantage of minorities, having not been fair and his record reflecting that…the same ol’guard propping themselves up on the backs of minorities and selling them down the river,” Wilson said in a statement. “I MUST stand up for those who feel they do not matter or do not have a voice… for those who can’t seem to get a fair shake. His record shows he has taken the minority vote for granted and hasn’t put anything back of significance in the 20 plus years he’s been a U.S. Senator.”
Wilson gained prominence during the Chicago mayoral primary, where he won 13 predominately Black wards and captured 10 percent of the vote overall. He also ran for mayor in 2015, both times garnering about 10 percent of the vote.
In 2016, Wilson ran for president, but then dropped out and voted for Donald Trump. Still, he said, he’s always been a Democrat.
Durbin is also a familiar and strong name that has historically drawn large support in the Black community. Durbin’s appeal among Chicago’s Black voters will be tested as Wilson seeks to unseat him. Questions remain as to whether Wilson can win voters from downstate and suburbs outside of Chicago.
Despite the challenges, Wilson appeared confident that he could take down Durbin.
“He hasn’done nearly enough for prison reform and economic development in minority communities, but Durbin has supported sanctuary cities,” Wilson said.
“Why hasn’t he given the same attention to the areas of prison reform and economic development, as well as to Reparations for those of African American Descendants of Slaves? He has totally been unfair. The time has come that we all have equal access and be treated fairly, once and for all. And that is why I am running for United States Senator –to represent ALL people regardless of race, creed or color,” says a committed Willie Wilson. Wilson is running as an Independent to challenge longtime Democratic Senator Dick Durbin. “This thing isn’t about Willie Wilson, it’s about our citizens,” he said during a morning news conference.
“As an Independent Democrat I want to go into the belly of the beast, the belly of the beast in Washington, D.C.,” Wilson added.
A businessman and philanthropist, Wilson placed third in February’s Chicago mayoral primary. “I am not going to vote, nor will I ever vote again for President Trump,” Wilson said. Senator Durbin was first elected to the Senate in 1996, and is now the second-most powerful Democrat in the legislative body. Political observers call Wilson’s candidacy a long-shot at best.
“Simply to get on the ballot as an Independent is 25,000 signatures in Illinois,” said political consultant Ty Cratic. “That’s very tough, especially when you get down to the ballot challenging.”
“Well, you know, David took on Goliath, Goliath had a hard fall,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s biggest criticism of Durbin was that the tax dollars in the state “have not proportionately benefited all races of citizens.”
Wilson, a millionaire who self-financed his last mayoral campaign, said he will accept donations but isn’t expecting much.