Kadner: Mr. Lewis wants to go to Washington
By Phil Kadner email@example.com March 19, 2013 10:42PM
Updated: April 21, 2013 6:35AM
There is a chance Marcus Lewis could be a congressman.
Actually, just about anyone can be a congressman, there being no prohibition in the Constitution against adulterers, liars or incompetents holding office.
In fact, that’s similar to the argument Lewis made as he sat in my office proclaiming his credentials, or lack thereof, to be the next representative from Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District.
“I’m not a crook,” Lewis said. “I haven’t stolen any money, and I’m not doing this to meet women.”
Lewis is running as an independent for the congressional seat previously held by Jesse Jackson Jr. and Mel Reynolds, so when I challenged his credentials he reminded me that the bar is set pretty low in the 2nd District.
Reynolds went to prison. Jackson is on his way there.
Lewis, 54, is a U.S. Postal Service employee who works in its “We Care” department, where damaged mail is repaired and sent on to its destination.
“That’s me. I care,” Lewis said. “I want to repair the reputation of this damaged congressional seat and return it to the voters, just like I send mail on to the proper recipient.”
But Lewis faces his own problems because he has been accused of violating the Hatch Act. That’s a federal law designed to prevent employees of the U.S. government from being coerced into working on political campaigns by their bosses.
The law also prohibits federal employees and postal workers from actively participating in campaigns.
Lewis has been notified by the federal government that by running for Congress he is in violation of the Hatch Act and could lose his job.
He appealed the decision of the U.S. Special Counsel’s office and has been notified that disciplinary action is pending by the Merit Selection Board.
“If I’m elected to Congress that won’t matter,” Lewis said. “Also, I believe this is a violation of my First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.”
Well, if that doesn’t sound just like a congressman, I don’t know what does.
A resident of Matteson, Lewis boasts that he received more votes running as an independent against Jackson in the Nov. 6 general election than Robin Kelly received during her Feb. 26 Democratic primary victory after Jackson resigned.
“She won the primary because a billionaire from New York bought her the nomination, and now she thinks she’s won the election,” Lewis said.
“That’s like walking off a basketball court at halftime with the lead,” he said. “The game’s not over.
“This election belongs to the voters of Illinois, not some billionaire in New York.”
The billionaire is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who spent more than $2 million on TV commercials through a political action committee to help Kelly win the primary election.
“She’s afraid of me,” Lewis said. “That’s why she won’t debate me.”
Actually, Kelly is ignoring Lewis because as the Democratic nominee she’s likely, based on previous elections, to get about 80 percent of the vote in the 2nd District.
There’s a Republican candidate running in the district who has a felony record and a Green Party candidate who apparently has never served time in prison.
“I will get more votes than either of them because I’ve already proved that I can do it,” Lewis said.
I suggested that he may have gotten about 40,000 votes in November because Jackson was under investigation by the FBI at the time, was accused of House ethics violations, was caught flying his girlfriend from Washington, D.C. to Chicago and was linked closely to a man who offered to buy Barack Obama’s Senate seat on his behalf.
People may have voted for Lewis simply to express their disgust with Jackson.
“That was my ship coming in,” Lewis said. “It was an opening for me, and voters got in my boat. Listen, if I get elected this will be like Mr. Lewis goes to Washington. It will be my life.
“The people here need a champion fighting for them in Washington, not someone just out for what they can get for themselves. This community needs a congressman who will fight and bring jobs back to the district.”
Lewis whips out a cellular phone and places it on a table.
“Apple makes these things in China. I won’t ask them to make them here in the 2nd District. Just give us a factory that makes these,” he said, removing the rubberized cover off the phone.
“Or just make the covers and these,” he barks, placing the ear pods on my desk. “Create 2,8000 jobs here. That’s all.
“Just make this stuff here in the United States where they sell all their products. Is that asking too much?”
It probably would be.
I asked Lewis how his wife feels about his campaign, seeing that he’s risking his postal job.
“She just says, ‘Do the best you can,’” Lewis said. “Martin Luther King Jr. said if you’re not willing to risk your job, your friends, even your life to stand for something, you don’t stand for nothing.”
Lewis is also running for his twin brother, Martin, whom he contends was a victim of racial discrimination in flunking out of Rush Medical College in Chicago more than two decades ago.
“He was a genius who got a full ride to John Hopkins University and graduated and never flunked a class at Rush and because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling could not appeal his case,” Lewis said. “I want to pass a law that would give him and the other minority medical students at the time the right to go to court.”
But even if Lewis were elected, could he get anything done?
“I’ve been watching C-SPAN for years,” he said. “I know how Congress works.
“I’m just like anyone else out there. Isn’t it time we sent a regular guy to Congress? It can’t get any worse than it’s been for the last 20 years.”
Now there’s a campaign motto.