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Willie Wilson (businessman)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Willie Wilson
Willie Wilson 2015.jpg
Personal details
Willie Lee Wilson[citation needed]

(1948-06-16) June 16, 1948 (age 72)
Gilbert, Louisiana, U.S.
Political partyWillie Wilson Party (since 2020)
Other political
Democratic (before 2020)
Alma materMt. Carmel Theological<br/>Seminary (DDiv)
WebsiteCampaign website

Willie Lee Wilson (born June 16, 1948)[1] is an American businessman and politician from Chicago, Illinois who has run for multiple elected offices, including Mayor of Chicago, U.S. Senator from Illinois, and President of the United States.

He has owned and operated several different McDonald's restaurant franchises and owns Omar Medical Supplies, which imports and distributes latex gloves and other medical and safety supplies and equipment.[2][3] He also produces the nationally syndicated gospel music television program Singsation, which won a Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award in 2012.[2][4][5]

Early life and education

Wilson was born the son of a sharecropper in Louisiana.[5]

Wilson completed a seventh grade education.[6][7]

Wilson later received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Mt. Carmel Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Humane Letters from Chicago Baptist Institute International.[8]

Wilson left home at age thirteen, and began his working life earning twenty cents per hour working in cotton and sugar cane fields.[9]

Wilson lived for periods of time in Miami and New York City, before settling in Chicago in 1965.[9]

Wilson worked various jobs once he moved to Chicago, before being hired to mop floors and flip burgers at a McDonald's.[9] He worked his way up, being eventually promoted to manager, and later receiving a loan to become a McDonald's franchisee, thus starting his business career.[9]

Business career

In his career as a businessman, Wilson owned five McDonald's franchises (which he subsequently sold) and started a medical-supply company.[5][9] He also produced the nationally syndicated gospel music television program Singsation[2][4]

He has served as the founder and Chairman of the Board of Omar Medical Supplies, Inc.[9][6]

Wilson served on the Board of Chicago Baptist Institute.[6]

Political career

Wilson served as the Chairman of the Governor's Task Force on Fair Practices in Contracting.[6] In 2014, Illinois Governor-elect Bruce Rauner appointed Wilson to his transition team.[10]

2015 Chicago mayoral campaign

Map showing Wilson's 2015 vote share, by ward, darker shades indicate higher vote percentages
Map showing Wilson's 2015 vote share, by ward, darker shades indicate higher vote percentages

Wilson ran for Mayor of Chicago in 2015, being one of several challengers to incumbent mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Wilson collected 43,000 signatures for his candidature petition within five days. Emanuel issued a challenge to the validity of signatures collected.[11] Emanuel ultimately dropped his challenge to Wilson's petition.[12]

Wilson staked out a number of positions, including advocating for bringing a casino to Chicago and restoring Meigs Field (on Northerly Island) as an airport.[9] Wilson was critical of Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and pledged to fire him if elected mayor.[9] Wilson was also critical of Chicago Public Schools school closures which had taken place under Emanuel.[9]

Wilson placed third in a five-candidate race with 50,960 votes, equal 10.66% of the votes cast.[13][14][15]

Wilson's endorsement in the runoff was actively sought by both candidates Rahm Emanuel and Jesús "Chuy" García.[16] Wilson endorsed García.[17][18]

2016 U.S. presidential campaign

Willie Wilson 2016
Willie Wilson 2016 logo.png
Campaign2016 United States presidential election
CandidateWillie Wilson
AffiliationDemocratic Party
Headquarters345 E. Wacker Unit 4601, Chicago, IL 60601[19]
Key peopleAndre Fair campaign treasurer
ReceiptsUS$1,100,421 (5/06/2016[19])
SloganWe Still Believe
Official website
Map demonstrating the ballot access of Wilson's campaignLegend: .mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  On ballot   On ballot as other   Not on ballot
Map demonstrating the ballot access of Wilson's campaign
  On ballot
  On ballot as other
  Not on ballot
Map of third-place finishes in Democratic primaries and caucusesLegend:  Steve Burke   Rocky De La Fuente   Paul T. Farrell Jr.   Martin O'Malley   Willie Wilson   Uncommitted   No third place candidate
Map of third-place finishes in Democratic primaries and caucuses
  Steve Burke
  Willie Wilson
  No third place candidate

After setting-up an exploratory committee on May 11, 2015, Wilson officially announced on June 1, 2015, that he would be running as a candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 election. He ran as a Democrat.[2][20][21][22]

Wilson was on the ballot in several states during the 2016 Democratic primaries. He was the only minor candidate to appear on the ballot in South Carolina's "First in the South" primaries, perhaps due to the comparatively higher cost of the state's ballot entry fee.[23]

The Wilson campaign was the first presidential campaign, Democratic or Republican, to buy advertisements in the state of Iowa.[24]

He dropped-out on April 12, 2016.[25]

In the general election, Wilson personally voted for Republican nominee Donald Trump.[26]

Campaign finances

Wilson speaking at the 2016 Scott County, Iowa Democratic Party Dinner
Wilson speaking at the 2016 Scott County, Iowa Democratic Party Dinner

Detailed below are the FEC-filed finances of Willie Wilson 2016 as of 5/6/2016[19]

Financial Source Amount (USD)
Federal Funds 0
Itemized Individual Contributions 28,685
Unitemized Individual Contributions 6,705
Party Committees Contributions 0
Other Committees Contributions 0
Total Contributions 35,390
Transfers from Authorized Committees 0
Candidate Loans 1,055,100
Other Loans 0
Total Loans 1,055,100
Offsets to Operating Expenditures 9,931
Fundraising Offsets 0
Legal and Accounting Offsets 0
Total Offsets 9,857
Other Receipts 0
Total Receipts 1,100,421
Disbursements Amount (USD)
Operating Expenditures 1,055,444
Transfers To Authorized Committees 0
Fundraising 0
Exempt Legal and Accounting 0
Candidate Loan Repayments 11,627
Other Loan Repayments 0
Total Loan Repayments 11,627
Individual Contribution Refunds 0
Political Party Contribution Refunds 0
Other Committee Contribution Refunds 0
Total Contribution Refunds 0
Other Disbursements 33,350
Total Disbursements 1,100,421
Cash Summary
Category Amount (USD)
Beginning Cash On Hand 0
Current Cash On Hand 0
Net Contributions 35,390
Net Operating Expenditures 1,045,512
Debts/Loans Owed By Campaign 1,043,472
Debts/Loans Owed To Campaign 0

2019 Chicago mayoral campaign

In March 2018, Wilson formally announced that he would run a second time for Mayor of Chicago in the 2019 mayoral election.[27]

During his campaign, Wilson generated controversy for handing out money to churchgoers. This practice of his was challenged before the Illinois State Board of Elections, which found that it did not violate any campaign finance laws since the money came from his non-profit foundation. Wilson defended his actions, declaring that his church appearances were not campaign-related, and that he was not buying votes.[28] He continued this practice after the decision by the Board of Elections.[29]

During the campaign, in late November of 20, Wilson declared that he believed that other black candidates needed, "to get out of the way."[30]

Wilson launched challenges to the candidature petitions of several black candidates,[30] including Roger Washington,[30] Ja'Mal Green,[30] Neal Sales-Griffin,[31] and Dorothy Brown.[31] At the last minute, Wilson moved to drop his challenge to Sales-Griffin's and Brown's petitions. Brown was still removed from the ballot due to Toni Preckwinkle maintaining her challenge to Brown's petition, but Sales-Griffin was allowed to be included on the ballot.[31] Chicago Electoral Board Chair Marisel Hernandez chastised the Wilson campaign for its political maneuvers regarding ballot challenges.[31]

Wilson was endorsed by the Cook County Republican Party.[32]

Wilson failed to make it to the runoff, placing fourth with 59,072 votes, equal 10.61% of vote cast.[33][34][35] Wilson performed very well on the West and South sides of the city.[36] Despite placing fourth, Wilson had a plurality of the vote in more wards than any other candidate (he came first in thirteen wards).[35][37][38][39] The thirteen wards that Wilson carried a plurality of the vote in were all predominately black (these being thirteen out of the total of eighteen wards in the city that are predominately black).[40]

Again, Wilson's endorsement was actively sought by both candidates in the runoff.[41] Wilson endorsed Lori Lightfoot.[42][43][44]

2020 U.S. Senate campaign

In August 2019, Wilson expressed his intention to challenge incumbent United States Senator from Illinois Dick Durbin in 2020, running in the general election as an independent challenger to Durbin.[45] Rather than run as an independent, he ultimately opted to run under the ballot line of his newly created "Willie Wilson Party".[46]

Wilson received the support of three current and former Chicago aldermen, as well as that of the Fraternal Order of Police.[47]

Wilson received 4% of the vote statewide, finishing in a distant third place. His highest support came from the majority-black wards of Chicago where he had done well in both his mayoral campaigns. Totaling up all 18 of Chicago's majority-black wards, Wilson garnered 18.5% of the vote, well ahead of Republican Mark Curran, who received only 4%, but still far behind Durbin who received 75.9%.[47]

Personal life

Wilson's son Omar, who was involved in gangs and drug dealing, was shot and killed at the age of 20.[9]

Political positions

Wilson self-identifies as an independent Democrat.[26]

In the 2016 United States Presidential general election, Wilson personally voted for Republican nominee Donald Trump.[26] When asked in 2019 about his possible vote in the 2020 election, Wilson declared, "I am not going to vote, nor will I ever vote again, for President Trump."[26]

During the COVID-19 pandemic in Illinois, Wilson advocated that churches should be allowed to hold in-person services despite the state's stay-at-home order.[48]

Economic policy

Wilson stated in 2019 that he believes the spending of tax money has "not proportionately benefited all races of citizens," in Illinois.[26]

LGBTQ rights

Wilson tweeted in response to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, “I disagree with what I consider the Supreme Court’s reinterpretation of what constitutes marriage. Marriage has and should always be that sacred union between a man and a woman. Period."[49] However, in 2018, Wilson declared that he had changed his mind on the issue of same-sex marriage, declaring that he now believes that, "everybody is entitled to do whatever they want to do and be with whoever they want to be."[49]

In a 2018 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Wilson stated that his upbringing in the Deep South had made it difficult for him to understand the LGBTQ community, but that he was "reaching out" and seeking to "learn".[49]

Electoral history


2015 Chicago mayoral election
Candidate General Election[50] Runoff Election[51]
Votes % Votes %
Rahm Emanuel (incumbent) 218,217 45.63 332,171 56.23
Jesús "Chuy" García 160,414 33.55 258,562 43.77
Willie Wilson 50,960 10.66
Robert W. "Bob" Fioretti 35,363 7.39
William "Dock" Walls, III 13,250 2.77
Write-ins 52 0.01
Total 478,256 100 590,733 100
2019 Chicago mayoral election
Candidate General Election[52] Runoff Election[53]
Votes % Votes %
Lori Lightfoot 97,667 17.54 386,039 73.70
Toni Preckwinkle 89,343 16.04 137,765 26.30
William Daley 82,294 14.78
Willie Wilson 59,072 10.61
Susana Mendoza 50,373 9.05
Amara Enyia 44,589 8.00
Jerry Joyce 40,099 7.20
Gery Chico 34,521 6.20
Paul Vallas 30,236 5.43
Garry McCarthy 14,784 2.66
La Shawn K. Ford 5,606 1.01
Robert "Bob" Fioretti 4,302 0.77
John Kolzar 2,349 0.42
Neal Sales-Griffin 1,523 0.27
Write-ins 86 0.02
Total 556,844 100 523,804 100

2016 Democratic presidential primaries

Primaries and Caucus Results
Date Contest Votes Place Percent Delegates Source(s)
February 1 Iowa caucusA 0 N/A 0.00 0 The Green Papers
February 27 South Carolina primary 1,314 3rd of 4 0.35 0 The Green Papers
March 1 Texas primary 3,254 5th of 8 0.23 0 The Green Papers
March 5 Louisiana primary 1,423 6th of 10 0.46 0 The Green Papers
March 8 Mississippi primary 919 3rd of 5 0.40 0 The Green Papers
March 15 Illinois primary 6,565 3rd of 8 0.32 0 The Green Papers
Missouri primary 307 8th of 10B 0.05 0 The Green Papers
June 7 California primary 10,544 3rd of 7 0.24 0 The Green Papers
North Dakota caucus 0 0.00 0 The Green Papers
Total (Current) 25,796 8thC 0.08 0 The Green Papers
A.^ On ballot as other
B.^ Counting Uncommitted as having placed 3rd
C.^ Counting Uncommitted, No Preference, and scattering, respectively, as placing 4th, 6th, and 7th

United States Senate

2020 United States Senate election in Illinois[54]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Dick Durbin (incumbent) 3,278,930 54.93
Republican Mark Curran 2,319,870 38.87
Willie Wilson Party Willie Wilson 237,699 3.98
Libertarian Danny Malouf 75,673 1.27
Green David Black 55,711 0.95
Write-in 18 0.00
Total votes 5,968,901 100


  1. ^ BusinessMakers, MusicMakers - Willie L. Wilson The HistoryMakers. July 16, 2008. Accessed June 4, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d With White House in his sights, Willie Wilson heads to Iowa Chicago Sun Times. June 1, 2015. Accessed June 3, 2015.
  3. ^ Willie Wilson selling up-by-the-bootstraps story in Chicago mayor race Chicago Tribune. February 13, 2015. Accessed June 3, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Meet mayoral candidate Willie Wilson, the anti-politician RedEye. February 11, 2015. Accessed June 6, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "Sharecropper's son turned successful businessman, Wilson wants 'equal opportunity for all'". Chicago Sun-Times. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d "Willie L. Wilson, candidate for mayor". Chicago Sun-Times. 28 January 2019. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  7. ^ Zorn, Eric (26 December 2018). "Is there a *real* doctor in the house?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  8. ^ "Chicago Mayor Candidate: Willie Wilson". ABC7 Chicago. WLS-TV. 25 January 2019. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Vivanco, Leonor (11 February 2019). "Meet mayoral candidate Willie Wilson, the anti-politician". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  10. ^ Vivanco, Leonor (11 February 2015). "Meet mayoral candidate Willie Wilson, the anti-politician". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  11. ^ "Willie Wilson Says Rahm Challenged His Own Signature on Petition". NBC Chicago. 19 December 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  12. ^ Pearson, Rick (24 December 2014). "Mayor Emanuel drops challenge to petitions of rival Willie Wilson". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  13. ^ 2015 Municipal General - 2/24/15 -- Mayor Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners. Accessed June 3, 2015.
  14. ^ Chicago businessman Willie Wilson ready to challenge Emanuel in mayor's race WLS-TV. November 19, 2014. Accessed June 3, 2015.
  15. ^ Race for Chicago Mayor: Willie Wilson says Emanuel is ‘an old snake in new skin’ WGN-TV February 18, 2015. June 3, 2015.
  16. ^ Kim, Katie (28 February 2015). "Emanuel, Garcia Court Wilson's Endorsement". NBC Chicago. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  17. ^ Willie Wilson: Not even President Obama could convince me to back Rahm Chicago Sun Times. June 1, 2015. Accessed June 3, 2015.
  18. ^ Key Chicago Figure, Despite a Plea by Obama, Gives a Lift to Emanuel’s Rival The New York Times. March 12, 2015. Accessed June 3, 2015.
  19. ^ a b c "Details for Committee ID : P60007515". Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  20. ^ Willie Wilson, third in Chicago mayor's race, exploring presidential run Chicago Tribune. May 12, 2015. Accessed June 3, 2015.
  21. ^ Willie Wilson Throws Hat In the Ring to Bid for President Chicago Defender. May 12, 2015. Accessed June 3, 2015.
  22. ^ Chicago businessman Willie Wilson running for president WGN-TV. June 1, 2015. Accessed June 3, 2015.
  23. ^ Greenberg, Eric (February 14, 2016). "Long-shot candidates look beyond New Hampshire". MSNBC. NBC Universal. Retrieved May 30, 2016. Despite his larger reach, De La Fuente shares one thing in common with his fellow New Hampshire long shots: None of them will appear on a ballot in South Carolina's "First in the South" primaries on February 20 and 27, where the cost is far more prohibitive than last Tuesday's $1,000 entry fee. The lone South Carolina curiosity will be Willie Wilson, a self-made Chicago businessman, who will appear on the Democratic ballot along with Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley. As in New Hampshire, the former Maryland governor's name will remain on the ballot despite having suspended his campaign after the Iowa caucuses. Wilson previously finished third in the 2015 Chicago mayoral race, and he is the longtime host of the Windy City's television gospel music show "Singsation." Reached by phone in South Carolina yesterday, Wilson said, "I'll be happy if I get 20 percent or so of the delegates … I'm hoping I can win it." Wilson, who recalls going from mopping floors at McDonald's to owning five franchises of his own, knows the road ahead will be difficult. "I believe anything is possible, but I come on this journey to work hard and have faith."
  24. ^ Thomas, Charles (January 31, 2016). "CHICAGO'S WILLIE WILSON DRUMS UP SUPPORT IN IOWA CAUCUS". WLS-TV. American Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved May 30, 2016. The Iowa caucuses are just one day away and all of the big-name candidates are prepping for the first official contest of the 2016 presidential race. Among the Democratic candidates is Chicago businessman Willie Wilson. "We keep going. We're here to stay. We're not going anywhere," Wilson said Sunday. While fellow Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been exchanging jabs about who is the most electable to the White House, Wilson said the National Democratic Party is doing everything it can to stop him from getting traction. "I been turned down eight different times from speaking in Iowa, that's including the debates," Wilson said. Wilson, who is a millionaire, was the first candidate in either party with television ads in Iowa, spending hundreds of thousands of his own dollars. "We're not accepting any money from major corporations," he said. "I'm financing this here 99.9 percent of my own money." His staff blames the Hillary Clinton operatives for silencing and keeping Wilson off the ballot in southern states where African-American voters could be the difference. "He will split the vote between Hillary Clinton and Dr. Willie Wilson and they don't want that," said Nina Morris, of the Wilson campaign. However, Chicago-based political consultant Delmarie Cobb--a Clinton supporter--said the Wilson campaign's disorganization is its worst enemy: "He did not put all of his infrastructure in place," Cobb said. "So he can't necessarily blame it on the Democratic Party." Wilson--a one-time Louisiana cotton-picker who made a fortune in Chicago--still believes he can win primaries in southern states where the Democratic party is dominated by African-Americans.
  25. ^ "Willie Wilson 2016 Committee ID-C00577916" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  26. ^ a b c d e Wall, Craig (3 September 2019). "Willie Wilson announces US Senate bid, challenging Senator Dick Durbin". ABC7 Chicago. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  27. ^ Strausburg, Chinta (March 29, 2018). "Dr. Willie Wilson throw hat into mayoral ring". Chicago Crusader. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  28. ^ Bradley, Tahman; Dwyer, Meghan (22 July 2018). "Board of Elections says Wilson's cash giveaway didn't violate rules". WGN-TV. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  29. ^ Thorp, Adam (12 December 2018). "Willie Wilson hands out more cash in church on Sunday". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  30. ^ a b c d Byrne, John (3 December 2018). "Chicago mayor's race enters chaotic phase of petition challenges". Chicago Tribune.
  31. ^ a b c d McGhee, Josh (24 January 2019). ""A first": Mayoral hopeful Neal Sáles-Griffin on Chicago ballot despite alleged lack of valid signatures". Chicago Reporter. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  32. ^ "Cook County GOP Endorses Chicago Mayoral Candidate". NBC Chicago. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  34. ^ "2019 Municipal Runoffs - 4/2/19". Chicago Board of Elections. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  35. ^ a b "2019 Municipal General - 2/26/19". Chicago Board of Elections. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  36. ^ Bentle, Kyle (14 March 2019). "Mayoral election results: Who won in your precinct?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  37. ^ "Map of Chicago mayor election results by precinct". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  38. ^ McGregor, Jason; Hinz, Greg (March 1, 2019). "Mayoral election: See who won where". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  39. ^ "Chicago Election: How Every Ward Voted for Mayor". NBC Chicago. February 27, 2019. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  40. ^ Johnson, Erick (28 February 2019). "Lightfoot won without winning a Black ward | The Crusader Newspaper Group". The Chicago Crusader. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  41. ^ Wall, Craig (1 March 2019). "Lightfoot, Preckwinkle meet with Wilson seeking his endorsement". ABC7 Chicago. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  42. ^ Spielman, Fran (2019-03-08). "Wilson endorsement caps good week for Lightfoot's mayoral campaign". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  43. ^ Jr, John Byrne, Juan Perez. "Lori Lightfoot picks up endorsement from businessman Willie Wilson in mayor's race". Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  44. ^ Wall, Crais (8 March 2019). "Chicago Mayor Election 2019: Willie Wilson to endorse Lori Lightfoot". WLS-TV. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  45. ^ Donovan, Lisa (30 August 2019). "Chicago businessman Willie Wilson says he'll run as an independent to challenge U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin in 2020". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  46. ^ "Willie Wilson". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
  47. ^ a b Johnson, Erick (November 5, 2020). "Willie Wilson lost all 18 Black wards in U.S. Senate race". Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  48. ^ Bauer, Kelly (13 May 2020). "Willie Wilson Plan To Open Churches 'Ridiculous' And Puts Black Lives At Risk, Pritzker Says". Block Club Chicago. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  49. ^ a b c Washington, Laura (9 December 2018). "Wilson has a long way to go to win LGBTQA vote". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  53. ^ "2019 Municipal Runoffs - 4/2/19". Chicago Board of Elections. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  54. ^ "Election Results 2020 GENERAL ELECTION". Illinois State Board of Elections. 2020-12-04. Retrieved 2020-12-04.

External links

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