Bobby Rush, U.S. Representative   Leave a comment


Bobby Lee Rush (born November 23, 1946) is the U.S. Representative for Illinois’s 1st congressional district, serving since 1993. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

The district is located principally on the South Side of Chicago. It is a minority-majority district and has a higher percentage of African Americans (65%) than any other congressional district in the nation. Rush has the distinction of being the only person to defeat President Barack Obama in an election for public office, when Obama challenged him in a primary election in 2000.[1] Rush is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

  Early life, education, and political activism

After dropping out of high school, Rush joined the U.S. Army in 1963 but went AWOL and received an honorable discharge in 1968.[2] Throughout the 1960s Rush was involved in the civil-rights movement. He worked in civil-disobedience campaigns in the South, and co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers in 1968 and was made its “defense minister”. His son, Huey, was named after Panther leader Huey Newton. “We were reacting to police brutality, to the historical relationship between African-Americans and recalcitrant racist whites,” Rush later told People magazine. “We needed to arm ourselves.” Rush was present when fellow Black Panther Fred Hampton was killed in a police raid and later made a official statement that the police, referred only to as “pigs” by Rush, had murdered Hampton. Rush’s own apartment was raided in December 1969 where police discovered an unregistered pistol, rifle, shotgun and pistol ammunition, training manuals on explosives and booby traps, a small amount of marijuana and an assortment of communist literature.[3] Earlier that same year Rush stated the philosophy his membership in the Black Panthers saying, “Black people have been on the defensive for all these years. The trend now is not to wait to be attacked. We advocate offensive violence against the power structure.”[4]

Imprisoned for six months in 1972 on a weapons charge after carrying a gun into a police station, Rush nonetheless worked on several non-violent projects that built support for the Black Panthers in African American communities. He coordinated a medical clinic that offered sickle-cell anemia testing on an unprecedented scale. Rush graduated with honors from Chicago’s Roosevelt University in 1973. A year later he left the Panthers, who were already in decline. “We started glorifying thuggery and drugs,” he told People. That was distasteful to the deeply religious Rush, who is a born-again Christian. He went on to say that “I don’t repudiate any of my involvement in the Panther party—it was part of my maturing.”[5] He subsequently resumed his education in the early 1990s at the McCormick Seminary and received a master’s degree in theology.

After leaving the Panther Party, Rush sold insurance for a time in the early 1970s.

  Early political career

Rush ran for a seat on Chicago’s city council in 1974. The first of several black militants who later sought political office, he was defeated. In the early 1980s, however, Chicago’s political life was transformed by the ascendancy of U.S. Representative Harold Washington, a noted orator and a charismatic figure who helped unite the city’s African American community. Washington was elected mayor of Chicago in 1983, the first African-American to ever hold the office. That same year, Rush was elected alderman from the Second Ward on Chicago’s South Side. He was one of the pro-Harold Washington faction on the Council during the “Council Wars” that began in 1983 following Washington’s election as Mayor of Chicago in a racially-polarized contest.

  U.S. House of Representatives

  Elections

1992

After redistricting, Rush decided to run in the newly redrawn Illinois’ 1st congressional district. He defeated incumbent U.S. Congressman Charles Hayes and six other candidates.[6] He won the general election with 83% of the vote.[7]

1994-1998

He won re-election in 1994 (76%), 1996 (86%), and 1998 (87%). In 1999, he ran for Mayor of Chicago and lost.

2000

In the 2000 Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives (IL-01), Rush was challenged from State Senator Barack Obama.[8] During the primary, Rush said: “Barack Obama went to Harvard and became an educated fool. Barack is a person who read about the civil-rights protests and thinks he knows all about it.”[9] During the campaign, Rush charged that Obama was not sufficiently rooted in Chicago’s black neighborhoods to represent constituents’ concerns, and also benefitted from an outpouring of sympathy when his son was shot to death shortly before the election.[10] Obama said Rush was a part of “a politics that is rooted in the past” and said he himself could build bridges with whites to get things done. But while Obama did well in his own Hyde Park base, he didn’t get enough support from the surrounding black neighborhoods.[11] Starting with just 10% name recognition, Obama went on to get only 31% of the votes, losing by a more than 2-to-1 margin despite winning among white voters.[12][13][14][15] Rush defeated him 61%-30%.[16] He then won the general election with 88% of the vote.[17]

2002

He won re-election with 81% of the vote.[18]

2004

He won re-election with 85% of the vote.[19]

2006
Main article: United States House of Representatives elections in Illinois, 2006

In the Democratic primary, he defeated Phillip Jackson 82%-18%.[20] He won re-election with 84% of the vote.[21]

2008
Main article: United States House of Representatives elections in Illinois, 2008

He won re-election with 86% of the vote.[22]

2010
Main article: United States House of Representatives elections in Illinois, 2010

In the 2010 Democratic primary, he was challenged by three people. However, he won with 80% of the vote.[23] He won re-election with 80%.[24]

  Tenure

  • Rush is the sponsor of the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act, named for Melanie Blocker-Stokes, a Chicago native who jumped to her death from a 12th story window due to postpartum depression. The bill would provide for research on postpartum depression and psychosis and services for individuals suffering from these disorders.
  • He sponsored legislation re-designating two United States Postal Service facilities in Illinois’ 1st district as the James E. Worsham Post Office and the James E. Worsham Carrier Annex Building.
  • Rush sponsored the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act passed in 1999. The law temporarily addressed the nursing shortage by providing non-immigrant visas for qualified foreign nurses in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago and was reauthorized in 2005.
  • The Children’s Health Act passed in 2000 incorporated Rush’s Urban Asthma Reduction Act of 1999, amending the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant program and includes an integrated approach to asthma management.
  • Rush initiated the Chicago Partnership for the Earned Income Tax Credit, an ongoing program designed to help low-income working Chicagoans receive the Earned Income Tax Credit, a federal income tax credits.
  • Rush has brought close to $2 billion[dubiousdiscuss] of federal funding since his election, including a $1 million federal grant from the Office of Naval Research to the Illinois Institute of Technology to develop better ways to assess the presence of chemical and biological agents.
  • Rush introduced the Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009 on January 6, 2009. This bill, if signed into law would require all owners of hand guns and semiautomatic firearms to register for a federal firearms license. All sales of the subject firearms would have to go through a licensed dealer. The bill would also make it a criminal act not to register as an owner of a firearm. H.R. 45 was referred to the judiciary committee in 2009.[25]

On July 15, 2004, Rush became the second sitting member of Congress (following Charles Rangel and preceding Joe Hoeffel) to be arrested for trespassing while protesting the genocide in Darfur and other violations of human rights in Sudan in front of the Sudanese Embassy.[26][27]

Though a very close friend to Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rush announced early on that he would support Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries, and later his presidential campaign.[28]

Rush proposed that an African-American should be appointed to fill Obama’s vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.[29] During a press conference, Rush said, “With the resignation of President-elect Obama, we now have no African American in the United States Senate, and we believe it will be a national disgrace to not have this seat filled by one of the many capable African American Illinois politicians.”[30] Rush said he did not support any one individual in particular for Senate, and was not interested in being appointed himself.[29][30] On December 30, 2008, Governor Rod Blagojevich announced his appointment of Roland Burris, a former African-American Attorney General of Illinois. Rush was present at the press conference and spoke in support of Burris.[31] Rush has since commented further on Senate Democrats not seating Burris, telling them not to “hang or lynch Burris.[32]

On February 13, 2007, Rush opposed President George W. Bush‘s proposed 20,000 serviceman troop surge in Iraq. He said the presence of the troops in Iraq is the greatest catalyst of violence in Iraq, and advocated a political resolution of the Iraq situation. Towards the close of his speech, Rep. Rush stated that the troop surge would only serve to make the Iraqi situation more volatile.[33]

In 2011, Rush was one of only two congressmen to vote against H.R. 2715 which corrected a law passed in 2008 that unintentionally banned the sale of motorcycles and ATV’s for children.[34]

  Committee assignments

  1999 run for Chicago mayor

See also: United States elections, 1999

Rush ran for mayor of Chicago in 1999 but was defeated by the incumbent Richard M. Daley.[35]

 Personal life

The nation’s first mass sickle cell anemia testing program was created by a clinic run by Rush.[36]

In 2008, Bobby Rush had a rare type of malignant tumor removed from his salivary gland.[37]

Rush is a member of Iota Phi Theta.[38]

Posted February 20, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Uncategorized

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