In the American South, a 12-year-old boy went to see a football game–Alabama vs. Ole Miss– with his Dad. At half time, the boy told his father that he wanted to be a coach one day. Years later, he went on to both play and coach football. He preached what he called “the two Ps” to his players, “persistently applying pressure.” After leaving his head coach role at Savannah State, he announced that he would be running for president in 2012, kickstarting his political career. He ran again in 2016 and is now on multiple ballots for the 2020 presidential election. That boy was Robby Wells.
Though Wells is running as a Democrat, he says he hopes to bring a sense of unity to the polarized American people. The Rise Up with Robby campaign’s economist, Eric Reiss, came up with the plans for Wells to use in his presidency.
“I said look, [the plan] is the best of the left-wing and the best of the right-wing. I said we’re Eagles. So let’s just call it eaglenmomics,” Wells said.
Eaglenomics has 12 goals, which can be found here. Some of those goals include moving to sustainable energy, revamping social security, “treatment instead of incarceration,” universal single-payer healthcare, universal childcare, free college tuition, and elimination of current student loan debt.
“I did what I was passionate about,” Wells said, “which was going into education and coaching and I did that for 20 years. And I truly believe that it gave me the opportunity to understand what exactly is going on in our public school education system across this country and the problems we face, and the solutions we need to get to in order to compete with the nations around the world that are ahead of us.”
His Eaglenomics website breaks down the reasoning behind the proposed plans, mostly on ideological terms. Wikipedia, personal blogs, and howstuffworks.com are all cited as sources.
Raised on a small farm in Waynesboro, Georgia, Wells said he saw firsthand how global issues could affect working people. His mother planned to have an abortion, but decided against it and gave Wells up for adoption. At 6 weeks old, a minister and his wife adopted Wells. He grew up attending church where his father worked and mother led music.
“When I was a little kid I remember the farmers strike in the 70s. I can remember the farmers taking their tractors through town….it was an intense time in the history of our country,” Wells said. “When the crops were good and when the economy was good, the members of the church which were mainly farming families, we did okay. When the economy was bad, not only did the farmers feel it, but my dad and my family felt it too.”
His first experience with the presidency started with Jimmy Carter. Wells’ father worked with Carter during his presidential campaign.
“We were in his home in Plains, Georgia…I looked up at him and I said, ‘you’re going to be the president of the United States!’ And he looked down at me and said, ‘one day you will be too.’ That just kinda stuck with me. Yes it did,” Wells said.
With two dreams in mind, coaching and the presidency, Wells studied Health and Exercise Science at Furman University where he played football. He then coached and educated at both high schools and universities, earning his master’s in Adult Education at USC. His coaching led him all the way to a head coach position at Savannah State. According to his website, Wells resigned from the position and shortly after announced that he was running for president. According to a report in the Savannah Morning News, that choice was less organic: his bosses gave him the option to resign or be terminated.
Wells then sued the schools for discrimination, claiming that the school fired him for recruiting white students to the HBCU. The school countered with arguments that Wells was dishonest with his superiors and did not follow the NCAA protocol.
Aaron Lyles, Wells campaign manager, said that Wells and Savannah state are now on good terms.
“The Savannah State case is pretty black and white. If you go and look at the court decision after the lawsuit there was a settlement reached,” Lyles said.
With his position at Savannah State over and done with, Wells moved on to his first presidential campaign in 2012 where he met a Virgil Goode campaign volunteer that became his campaign manager in 2016.
“I really liked his message and I liked his vision,” said Lyles. “With Robby what you see is what you get.”
In 2020, Wells is hoping the American people see his vision too.
“I was taught as a child to love and respect all people, even those who believe differently than me. I am a Christian, and I do study the life of Christ. Now if Christ didn’t come to condemn any man, then neither will I,” Wells said.
Even through his optimism and messages of unity, Wells is still not on the ballot in all 50 states.
Conrad Weiler, a political science professor at Temple University, said lesser known candidates tend to have more success in promoting ideas rather than actually winning elections and holding office.
“There are minor candidates and then there are really, really minor. In this case it sounds like really, really minor,” said Weiler.
However, Wells’ campaign remains hopeful.
“The word we’ve been using around the campaign is absurd. It’s absurd because of how limited we are on resources,” said Lyles.
“But I don’t think it’s too late for us at all.”