Rep. Bobby Rush becomes 24th House Democrat not to seek reelection

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Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) will announce Tuesday that he will not seek reelection to a 16th term in Congress this November, he told the Chicago Sun-Times Monday.

Rush, co-founder of the Illinois Black Panther Party, was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1992 and famously bested then-State Sen. Barack Obama in the 2000 House Democratic primary, making him the only person to defeat Obama in any election.

“I don’t want my grandchildren … to know me from a television news clip or something they read in a newspaper,” Rush, 75, told the Sun-Times.

“I want them to know me on an intimate level, know something about me, and I want to know something about them,” he added. “I don’t want to be a historical figure to my grandchildren.”

Though Rush is retiring from Congress, he intends to remain active in Chicago’s Beloved Community Church, where he serves as a pastor.

Over his 30 years in Congress, Rush may be best remembered for donning a hoodie on the House floor following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012. At the time, Rush was escorted off the floor for breaching House decorum. 

Rush famously bested then-State Sen. Barack Obama in the 2000 House Democratic primary.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

Last week, the lawmaker announced that he had contracted a “breakthrough” case of COVID-19, though he noted he did not have any symptoms. 

Rush’s district, which covers much of Chicago’s South Side, is expected to remain in Democratic hands after the November election. He is the latest Democratic lawmaker representing a safe district to give up his seat as Republicans eye taking back the lower chamber of Congress this November.

The GOP needs to win a net of six House seats to regain the majority and polls indicate they are on track to do just that.

Rush, who cofounded the Illinois Black Panther Party, is pictured in 1992 with Rep. Jim Clyburn.
Rush, who cofounded the Illinois Black Panther Party, is pictured in 1992 with Rep. Jim Clyburn.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

“If Democrats thought their retirement crisis would get better over the holidays, they were wrong,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Mike Berg said in a statement. “Democrats are abandoning ship as fast as possible because they know their majority is doomed.”

Recent Democrats to announce their retirement include Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard and Jackie Speier of California, Stephanie Murphy of Florida, and Albio Sires of New Jersey.

In all, 16 of the 24 House Democrats to announce they will not run for reelection are retiring from public life, while four are running for the US Senate and four others are running for other offices.

So far, 12 House Republicans have announced that they are also not seeking another two-year term.

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