Bobby Rush gives up 30 years of House seat

Bobby Rush gives up 30 years of House seat

“First off, I’m not retiring man, okay?” he said in an interview. “I’m not ready to go to some place in the sun, drink tequila on nobody’s beach.”

His plan: to focus on his work as a minister, where he hopes to retain power over the voters who sent him to Congress 30 years ago. “I come home to my church in the heart of Chicago’s South Side,” said Rush, referring to the Beloved Community Church of God in Christ, where he serves as a pastor.

“I’m just entering a new level of my life,” he said.

The veteran lawmaker who went from fist-raising militant to mainstream, albeit left-leaning, congressman will announce his plans Tuesday at the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, the revered Chicago venue of 14-year-old Emmet’s 1955 funeral. till. The location of the announcement is symbolic as Rush hopes to get the Emmett Till Antilynching Act signed this year.

Rush has passed the measure, which would designate lynching as a federal crime, multiple times — including exactly one year ago on Tuesday. The bill was passed this Congress by the House Judiciary Committee, but has not been passed by the full House or Senate.

The prospect of Democrats losing the House didn’t affect his decision, he said.

“Oh, absolutely not,” Rush said. “I don’t accept that. I don’t believe in Ouija boards, I don’t believe in predicting the future – none of that. I think the Democrats are in a great position to retake the House and increase their numbers in the Senate.”

Rush’s 1st District, which includes much of Chicago’s South Side, would remain in Democratic hands, so his departure won’t interfere with the party’s shaky hold on the House. But Rush’s announcement is shaking up Chicago’s political landscape, with plenty of Illinois politicians already feeling they want to replace him.

“I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision, having given so many years of his life to the First District,” said Illinois Democratic Party executive Robin Kelly. wrote in a text message. “I’m a little surprised, but I wish him all the best as he starts a new chapter.”

Rush has been an advocate against gun violence long before the issue became the focus of discussion. His crusade started after the police murders of Fred Hampton (who recruited Rush) and Mark Clark of the Black Panthers, but 30 years later it got even more personal. His son, Huey Rich, was killed in an armed robbery on the south side of town.

Before Capitol Hill, Rush served on the Chicago City Council and was a leader in the state’s Democratic Party, becoming a close ally of former House Speaker Michael Madigan. In 1999, he ran for mayor, losing to then-incumbent mayor Richard M. Daley.

Rush has seen its share of political challengers over the years, including Barack Obama, who was famously defeated by Rush in a primary in 2000: 61 to 30 percent. The victory is a legend in Chicago political circles as the only race Obama has ever lost. The future president described that Democratic primary loss as getting “my rear end handed to me.” And Rush enjoyed it.

The veteran legislator was expected to take another win this year, but he has yet to announce it officially. In October, he told Mediafrolic: “What’s the rush? I’ll announce it in January.” And last month, he told Mediafrolic’s The Recast, “I’ll remain an activist as long as I’m here in the land of the living. … I can’t even imagine retiring into some kind of easy chair.”

Rush has his fair share of congressional performance. He helped secure passage of the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act in 2019 to increase public access to cold case records and help shut down families.

He also offered and secured the approval of a fiscal 2020 amendment to increase funding by $2 million for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program to clear backlogs in rape kits. He was inspired to do so in light of the disturbing number of missing black women and girls in Chicago and across the country.

Rush also addressed nuts and bolts related to consumer product safety, and he serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he focuses on energy and environmental justice issues.

He plans to continue passing legislation through to the end, he said, including the Emmett Till Antilynching Act and the COINTELPRO Full Disclosure Act, a bill introduced in May that would open files from an FBI counterintelligence program. that oversaw black communities.

“Let’s see how many Americans J. Edgar Hoover has killed,” Rush said in a recorded video he plans to play during his Tuesday announcement.

“I want to make those files public, but I also want the name of J. Edgar Hoover of the Federal Building, FBI headquarters in Washington, DC,” Rush said in the video.

As for his successor, “I’ll make a suggestion,” Rush said. “I am going to introduce a person that I would like to continue with the work I have done in the United States Congress.”

But will that happen on Tuesday? Don’t bet on it.

“No, he’s not coming tomorrow,” Rush said with a deep chuckle. “One of the things I’ve learned about the media is don’t step on your message.”

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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