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Video: Willie Wilson's Mayoral Campaign Gets National Attention On 'Hardball'

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 15, 2015 8:00PM

Businessman Willie Wilson’s upstart mayoral campaign is certainly getting attention, if not credibility, thanks to the combination of his pumping $1 million of his own money into his campaign and his “WTF?”campaign platform. Wilson’s campaign caught the attention of MSNBC, who booked him for a segment on Hardball with Chris Matthews Wednesday.

If you pay attention, you can see the moment where Matthews decides to fire whoever booked Wilson on the show. Peep, peeps!

Wilson was calm and engaging throughout the segment but doubling down on having 75 percent of police officers walk, ride buses and trains as part of his public safety policy, rebuilding Meigs Field (or "re-opening" it, as Wilson said), and declaring that all contractors should have equal opportunity to vie for city business—a practice already in place, at least on paper—had the normally cantankerous Matthews looking even more exasperated than he does by the end of the segment.

The glare will only intensify now that Wilson is in the political spotlight. His money can attract veteran political operatives such as former state Sen. Rickey Hendon and outsider Frank Coconate (who flirted with being part of Emanuel's re-election effort). And while the discontent for Emanuel is real, Wilson and his handlers run the risk of being written off as a joke if he can't offer details on how he would address the city's ills beyond "accessing the problem" with his business experience.

Here's what Mark W. Anderson has to say about Wilson's campaign.

If there’s a problem with self-financed political campaigns, it’s when the money the candidate is willing to dole out takes the place of actual experience, political skills or policy expertise. And, judging by his public statements, campaign ads and even political strategy, it looks like Wilson is banking on the idea that all he has to do is wave around enough big checks and he’ll somehow be taken seriously as a candidate.


Even worse, Wilson is basking in the glow of instant credibility while a similar first-time candidate like Amara Enyia—whose resume is filled with policy and municipal management experience—couldn’t buy the time of day from the media in Chicago.

One gets the sense Wilson would deal with city government like balancing the ledger of one of his McDonald's franchises. To some, that may be better than how Emanuel targets government, but the lack of details makes Wilson's seem nothing more than a well self-financed vanity campaign.