Bobby Rush

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For the blues musician, see Bobby Rush (musician).
Bobby Rush
Bobby Rush 113th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 1st district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 1993
Preceded by Charles Hayes
Personal details
Born Bobby Lee Rush
(1946-11-23) November 23, 1946 (age 68)
Albany, Georgia
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Carolyn Thomas
Children 6
Residence Chicago, Illinois
Alma mater Roosevelt University (B.A.)
University of Illinois at Chicago (M.A.)
McCormick Theological Seminary (Th.M.)
Occupation Civil Rights leader
Religion Baptist
Website rush.house.gov
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1963–1968

Bobby Lee Rush (born November 23, 1946) is the U.S. Representative for Illinois's 1st congressional district, serving since 1993. The district is located principally on the South Side of Chicago with its population percentage being 65% African-American, higher than any other congressional district in the nation.

A member of the Democratic Party, he holds the distinction of being the only person to defeat President Barack Obama in an election, as he did in the 2000 Democratic primary for Illinois' 1st congressional district.

Early life, education, and activism[edit]

Rush was born on November 23, 1946 in Albany, Georgia. After his mother and father separated when he was 7, Rush, his siblings and their mother moved to Chicago, Illinois.[1] In 1963 after dropping out of high school, Rush joined the U.S. Army. While stationed in Chicago in 1966, he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1968, he went AWOL from the Army and co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers. He later received an honorable discharge from the Army.[2]

Throughout the 1960s, Rush was involved in the civil-rights movement and worked in civil-disobedience campaigns in the Southern United States. After co-founding the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers in 1968, he served as its defense minister.[3] After witnessing fellow Black Panther Fred Hampton being killed in a police raid, Rush made statements saying "We needed to arm ourselves" and referring to the police as "pigs".[4] Earlier that same year Rush stated the philosophy behind 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."[5] Despite the group's engagement in violence, Rush nonetheless worked on several non-violent projects that built support for the Black Panthers in African-American communities, such as coordinating a medical clinic which offered sickle-cell anemia testing on an unprecedented scale.[6]

Rush's own apartment was raided in December 1969, where police discovered an unregistered pistol, rifle, shotgun, pistol ammunition, training manuals on explosives, booby traps, an assortment of communist literature, and a small amount of marijuana.[7] Rush was imprisoned for six months in 1972 on a weapons charge, after carrying a pistol into a police station. In 1974 Rush left the Panthers, who were already in decline. "We started glorifying thuggery and drugs," he told People. Rush, a deeply religious born-again Christian, went on to say that "I don't repudiate any of my involvement in the Panther party—it was part of my maturing."[8]

In 1973, Rush earned his Bachelor of Arts with honors in liberal arts from Roosevelt University, and went on to earn his Master's degree in political science from University of Illinois at Chicago in 1974, and in theological studies from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1978.

Chicago politics[edit]

Rush ran for a seat on the Chicago City Council in 1974, the first of several black militants who later sought political office, and 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 a part of the pro-Harold Washington faction on the Council during the "Council Wars" that began in 1983 following Washington's election as Mayor in a racially-polarized contest.

In 1999, Rush ran for Mayor of Chicago, but lost in the Democratic primary to incumbent Richard M. Daley.[9]

In 2013, Rush drew criticism for his own criticism of a plan set out by Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) who proposed 18,000 members of Chicago gang "Gangster Disciples" be arrested. Rush called Kirk's approach "headline grabbing," and referred to it as an "upper-middle-class, elitist white boy solution to a problem he knows nothing about." In response, a spokesman for Kirk referred to the decades of experience Kirk had with it.[10]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Elections[edit]

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 in the Democratic primary election in 1992.[11] He won the general election with 83% of the vote.[12]

In the 2000 Democratic primary for the Illinois' 1st congressional district, Rush was challenged by then-State Senator, Barack Obama.[13] 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."[14] Rush claimed that Obama was not sufficiently rooted in Chicago's black neighborhoods to represent constituents' concerns.[15] For his part, 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.[16] Starting with just 10% name recognition, Obama went on to get only 30% of the vote, losing by a more than 2-to-1 margin despite winning among white voters; and Rush winning 61% overall.[17][18][19][20][21] Rush went on to win the general election with 88% of the vote.[22]

Rush has consistently won with high margins, winning above 80% in every election, with the exception being his first bid for re-election in 1994 and in 2012 after redistricting, with him still winning above 70% of the vote.

Tenure[edit]

Bobby Rush has been considered a loyal Democrat during his tenure, in the 110th Congress, he voted with his party 97.8% of the time.[23] Rush is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Fiscal

Rush initiated the Chicago Partnership for the Earned Income Tax Credit, an ongoing program designed to help low-income working Chicago resident to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit, a federal income tax credits.

Healthcare

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.

Rush sponsored 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.

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.

Energy

Rush was very outspoken against the GOP No More Solyndras Bill that would override a guarantee by the Energy Department. The Energy Department guaranteed a federal loan contract with the Solyndras company to help with research and development.[24] Rush made the comment that the No More Solyndras Bill would be better named as the "No More Innovation Bill".[25]

Firearms

Rush introduced the "Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009" on January 6, 2009. The bill would require all owners of handguns and semiautomatic firearms to register for a federal firearms license. All sales of the subject firearms would have to go through a licensed dealer. It would also make it a criminal act not to register as an owner of a firearm.[26]

Darfur genocide

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.[27][28]

Armed forces

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, Rush stated that the troop surge would only serve to make the Iraqi situation more volatile.[29]

Trayvon Martin

On March 28, 2012, Rush addressed the House while wearing a hoodie in honor of Trayvon Martin, a teenager who was shot in Florida, and spoke against racial profiling.[30] As the House forbids its members from wearing hats, Rush was called out of order and escorted from the chamber.[31]

Committee assignments[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Together Rush and his wife Carolyn have had 6 children. One of their sons, Huey, named after Black Panther leader Huey Newton,[32] was murdered in Chicago at the age of 29.[33]

In 2008, Rush had a rare type of malignant tumor removed from his salivary gland.[34] Rush is a member of Iota Phi Theta.[35] According to a DNA analysis, he is descended mainly, from people of Ghana.[36]

Though a very close friend to Bill and Hillary Clinton, Rush announced early on in the 2008 Democratic primaries that he would support Barack Obama.[37] After Obama won the Presidency and vacated his Senate seat, Rush proposed that an African-American should be appointed to fill his seat.[38] During a press conference, Rush said, "With the resignation of President-elect Obama, we now have no African-Americans 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."[39] Rush said he did not support any one individual in particular for Senate, and was not interested in being appointed himself.[38][39] On December 30, 2008, Governor Rod Blagojevich announced his appointment of Roland Burris, the former Attorney General of Illinois; Rush was present at the press conference and spoke in support of Burris.[40]

Electoral history[edit]

U.S. House, 1st District of Illinois (General Election)[12][22][41][42][43][44][45]
Year Winning candidate Party Pct Opponent Party Pct Opponent Party Pct
1992 Bobby Rush Democratic 82% Jay Walker Republican 17%
1994 Bobby Rush (inc.) Democratic 75% William J. Kelly Republican 24%
1996 Bobby Rush (inc.) Democratic 85% Noel Naughton Republican 12% Tim M. Griffin Libertarian 1%
1998 Bobby Rush (inc.) Democratic 87% Marlene W. Ahimaz Republican 10% Maggie Kohls Libertarian 2%
2000 Bobby Rush (inc.) Democratic 87% Raymond G. Wardingley Republican 12%
2002 Bobby Rush (inc.) Democratic 81% Raymond G. Wardingley Republican 16% Dorothy Tsatsos Libertarian 2%
2004 Bobby Rush (inc.) Democratic 84% Raymond G. Wardingley Republican 15%
2006 Bobby Rush (inc.) Democratic 84% Jason E. Tabour Republican 15%
2008 Bobby Rush (inc.) Democratic 85% Antoine Members Republican 14%
2010 Bobby Rush (inc.) Democratic 80% Raymond G. Wardingley Republican 15% Jeff Adams Green 3%
2012 Bobby Rush (inc.) Democratic 73% Donald Peloquin Republican 26%

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Facts On File". Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Associated Press profile". Associated Press. 
  3. ^ "Bobby L. Rush". Wall Street Journal. 
  4. ^ Yussuf J. Simmonds (January 5, 2012). "Bobby Rush – LA Sentinel". Los Angeles Sentinel. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  5. ^ Kevin Klose (Aug 11, 1984). "A Black Panther on Little Cat Feet; Bobby Rush Drops the Clenched Fist". Washington Post. 
  6. ^ "Washington Times report on Rush's sickle-cell anemia program". 
  7. ^ Bill Matney. "CBS Evening News". CBS. 
  8. ^ Almanac of American Politics. National Journal Group. 
  9. ^ Lizza, Ryan (July 21, 2008). "Making It: How Chicago Shaped Obama". The New Yorker. 
  10. ^ June, Daniel, "Bobby Rush Condemns Mark Kirk’s Mass Gang Arrest Plan as 'Elitist White Boy Solution'"
  11. ^ "IL – District 01 – D Primary Race – Mar 17, 1992". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  12. ^ a b "IL DIstrict 1 Race – Nov 03, 1992". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  13. ^ U.S. House of Representatives Election Results 2000
  14. ^ Remnick, David (November 17, 2008). "The Joshua Generation: Race and the campaign of Barack Obama". New Yorker. 
  15. ^ Kleine, Ted (March 17, 2000). "Is Bobby Rush in trouble?". Chicago Reader. Retrieved July 26, 2008. 
  16. ^ Becker, Jo; Christopher Drew (May 11, 2008). "Pragmatic Politics, Forged on the South Side". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved July 28, 2008. 
  17. ^ Federal Election Commission, 2000 U.S. House of Representatives Results
  18. ^ Gonyea, Don (September 19, 2007). "Obama's loss may have aided White House bid". Morning Edition. NPR. Retrieved April 22, 2008. 
  19. ^ Scott, Janny (September 9, 2007). "A streetwise veteran schooled young Obama". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  20. ^ McClelland, Edward (February 12, 2007). "How Obama learned to be a natural". Salon.com. Retrieved April 20, 2008. 
  21. ^ "IL District 1 – D Primary Race – Mar 21, 2000". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  22. ^ a b "IL District 1 Race – Nov 07, 2000". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  23. ^ Tsukayama, Hayley. "Who Runs Gov Bobby Rush Profile". Who Runs Gov (The Washington Post). Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  24. ^ Andrew Restuccia (25 July 2012). "GOP on House panel OKs 'no more Solyndras’ bill". Politico. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  25. ^ "Rep. Bobby Rush: GOP’s "No More Solyndras Bill" should be called "No More Innovation Bill"". Washington Examiner. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  26. ^ "H.R. 45: Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009". GovTrack.us. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  27. ^ "U.S. lawmaker arrested at Sudanese embassy in Washington". Sudan Tribune. Associated Press. July 15, 2004. 
  28. ^ "U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush Arrested at Sudanese Embassy" (Press release). Office of Congressman Bobby Rush. July 15, 2004. 
  29. ^ "Retrieve Pages". Frwebgate.access.gpo.gov. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  30. ^ "Congressman Bobby Rush wears hoodie on House floor". BBC News. March 28, 2012. 
  31. ^ Madison, Lucy (March 28, 2012). "Dem Rep. Bobby Rush escorted from House floor for wearing hoodie in honor of Trayvon Martin". CBS News. 
  32. ^ John McCormick (November 28, 1999). "A Father's Anguished Journey". The Daily Beast. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  33. ^ "The Story Behind Bobby Rush, the Hoodie-Wearing, Trayvon-Supporting Congressman". March 28, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2012. 
  34. ^    (2008-08-04). "Chicago News | abc7chicago.com". Abclocal.go.com. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  35. ^ "Notable Iota Men". Iota Phi Theta. Retrieved August 23, 2010. 
  36. ^ Bobby Rush Ancestry Reveal on YouTube
  37. ^ Fornek, Scott (2008-01-27). "Clinton pal Bobby Rush: I'm supporting Obama". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-01-02. 
  38. ^ a b Flournoy, Tasha (December 2, 2008). "Rush Petitions For African-American To Replace Obama in the Senate". Chicago Public Radio. 
  39. ^ a b "Cong. Bobby Rush urges governor to choose Black Senate replacement". Chicago Defender. December 3, 2008. 
  40. ^ "Blagojevich names Obama successor despite warnings". CNN.com. December 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  41. ^ "IL District 1 Race – Nov 05, 2002". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  42. ^ "IL – District 01 Race – Nov 07, 2006". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  43. ^ "IL – District 01 Race – Nov 04, 2008". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  44. ^ "IL – District 01 Race – Nov 02, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  45. ^ 2012 election results

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Charles Hayes
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 1st congressional district

1993–Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Ed Royce
R-California
United States Representatives by seniority
65th
Succeeded by
Bobby Scott
D-Virginia