Jan 4, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Rep. Bobby Rush to retire after 30 years in Congress

Photo of Bobby Rush speaking from his seat as chairman of the committee

Rep. Bobby Rush listens during testimony at a House energy subcommittee hearing on July 14, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Photo: Michael A. McCoy via Getty Images

Rep. Bobby Rush (D- Ill.) will not seek another term in office, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Monday.

Why it matters: A civil rights activist in the 1960s, Rush is known for co-founding the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. He joins 23 other Democrats who have said they will not seek re-election in 2022.

Details: Rush, who is a minister, was first elected to Congress in 1992 and has served Illinois' 1st congressional district, which largely sits on the South Side of Chicago, ever since.

  • He is the only candidate to ever defeat former President Obama in an election, which took place in a 2000 primary for his district.

What he's saying: Rush told the Sun-Times he made his decision after speaking with his 19-year-old grandson, who wanted to learn more about Rush's history.

  • "I don’t want my grandchildren ... to know me from a television news clip or something they read in a newspaper," Rush said.
  • "I want them to know me on an intimate level, know something about me and I want to know something about them. I don’t want to be a historical figure to my grandchildren."
  • He plans to continue working in his ministry and hopes to use his life story to inspire younger generations, per the Sun-Times.

The big picture: The increasing number of Democratic retirements — put against the backdrop of President Biden's sagging approval ratings and uncertainty about redistricting — is adding to concerns the party may not be able to keep its slim majority in the House, Axios' Alayna Treene and Oriana Gonzalez write.

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