Bobby Rush to relinquish 30-year hold on House seat

“First of all, I’m not going to retire, okay?” He said in an interview. “I’m not ready to go anywhere in the sun, sit on no beaches and drink tequila.”

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

“I am entering a new level of my life right now,” he said.

The veteran lawmaker, who went from a militant fistfight to an established, albeit left-wing congressman, announced his plans Tuesday at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, the venerable site of the 14-year-old’s funeral in Chicago in 1955 give Emmett up. The place of the announcement is symbolic as Rush hopes to enact Emmett Till’s antilynching law this year.

Rush introduced the measure what would call the lynching a federal crime, several times – including on Tuesday exactly a year ago. The bill was approved by the House Judiciary Committee at that Congress, but was not approved by the entire House or Senate.

The prospect of the Democrats losing the house did not affect his decision, he said.

“Oh, absolutely not,” said Rush. “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 prime position to take back the house and increase their number in the Senate. “

Rush 1st District, which encompasses much of Chicago’s South Side, would remain in Democratic hands so its departure would not detract from the party’s shaky hold in the house. But Rush’s announcement is rocking Chicago’s political landscape as numerous Illinois politicians are already putting out feelers that they are interested in replacing him.

“I’m sure it was not an easy decision after dedicating so many years of his life to the First District,” said Robin Kelly, chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. written in a text message. “I’m a little surprised, but I wish him the very best when he starts a new chapter.”

Rush was an advocate of gun violence long before the subject became the focus of today’s discussions. His crusade began after the police murders of Fred Hampton (whom Rush recruited) and Mark Clark, but 30 years later he got even more personal. His son Huey Rich was killed in an armed robbery on the city’s South Side.

Prior to Capitol Hill, Rush served on Chicago city council and was a leader of the state’s Democratic Party and became a close ally of former House Speaker Michael Madigan. In 1999 he ran for mayor and lost to then mayor Richard M. Daley.

Rush has seen its share of political challengers over the years, including Barack Obama, who was known to be defeated by Rush in a 2000 primary – 61 to 30 percent. The victory is legendary in Chicago political circles as it is the only race Obama has ever lost. The future president described that the primary loss of the Democrats than getting “my butt”. And Rush enjoyed it.

The veteran lawmaker was expected to claim another victory this year, but has yet to officially announce it. In October he told POLITICO: “How urgent is it? I will announce in January. ”And last month he told POLITICO The Recast,“ I will be an activist as long as I am here in the land of the living. … I can’t even imagine retreating into a kind of armchair. “

Rush has had its share in the accomplishments of Congress. He helped ensure the passage of the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act in 2019 to improve public access to Cold Case Records and shut down families.

He also offered and secured a 2020 fiscal year amendment to add $ 2 million to the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program to help clear up arrears on rape kits. He was inspired to do this, given the worrying number of missing black women and girls in Chicago and across the country.

Rush has also worked on consumer product safety issues and is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he focuses on energy and environmental justice issues.

He plans to enforce the legislation 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 defense program that monitored black communities.

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

“I want these files to be disclosed, but I also want to remove J. Edgar Hoover’s name from the federal building, the FBI headquarters in Washington, DC,” Rush said in the video.

As for his successor, “I’ll make a suggestion,” said Rush. “I will introduce a person who would like to continue my work in the US Congress.”

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

“No, it won’t come tomorrow,” said Rush with a deep laugh. “One of the things I’ve learned about the media is that they don’t step on your message.”

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