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Bobby Rush

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 1st district
Assumed office 
January 3, 1993
Preceded by Charles Hayes

Born November 23, 1946 (1946-11-23) (age 63)
Albany, Georgia
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Carolyn Thomas
Residence Chicago, Illinois
Alma mater Roosevelt University
University of Illinois at Chicago
McCormick Theological Seminary
Occupation elected official, insurance agent, civil rights leader
Religion Baptist
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1963-1968

Bobby Lee Rush (born November 23, 1946, Albany, Georgia) is an American politician from Illinois. A Democrat, he has served in the United States House of Representatives as the member from Illinois' 1st congressional district since 1993. Rush's 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 date to defeat President Barack Obama in an election for public office.[1] Rush is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.


Political career

Rush served on the Chicago City Council in the 1980s, representing the 2nd Ward. 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.

Rush ran for mayor of Chicago in 1999 but was defeated by the incumbent Richard M. Daley.[2]

In the 2000 Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives (IL-01), Rush defeated a challenge from then-state senator Barack Obama.[3] 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."[4]

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.[5][6]

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.[7]

Rush proposed that an African-American should be appointed to fill Obama's vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.[8] 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."[9] Rush said he did not support any one individual in particular for Senate, and was not interested in being appointed himself.[8][9] 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.[10] Rush has since commented further on Senate Democrats not seating Burris, telling them not to "hang or lynch" Burris.[11]


Legislative record

  • 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 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 does not have any co-sponsors and has been referred to the judiciary committee.[12]

Legislative speeches

  • On February 13, 2007, Rep. Rush rose to express his opposition of President George W. Bush's proposed 20,000 serviceman troop surge in Iraq. In the text of his speech, he asserted that the presence of the troops in Iraq is the greatest catalyst of violence in Iraq, and advocated a political resolution the Iraq situation. Towards the close of his speech, Rep. Rush stated that the troop surge would only serve to make the Iraqi situation move volatile.[13]
  • On November 5, 2007, Bobby Rush rose in the House to proclaim his support for National Bible Week. In the text of the speech, he claims that he had not always been an ardent reader of the Bible, but after having been elected to the House, he received a copy in 1993. He continues that while in Chicago with his wife, he was somehow drawn to read the Bible and is now a ferocious reader. During the speech, he quoted Micah 6:6-8 and Luke 4:18. At the close of the speech, he called on Christians and non-Christians alike to read the Bible.[14]

Congressional committee assignments


In October 2008, Rep. Rush's son Jeffrey was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty to having sex with two female inmates while employed as a state prison official.[15]

In 2008, Bobby Rush had a rare type of malignant tumor removed from his salivary gland.[16]

The nation's first mass sickle cell anemia testing program was created by a clinic run by Rush.[17]

Rush is a member of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. [18]

Bobby Rush was Deputy Minister of Defense of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party.[19]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Lizza, Ryan (July 21, 2008). "Making It: How Chicago Shaped Obama". The New Yorker. 
  3. ^ U.S. House of Representatives Election Results 2000
  4. ^ Remnick, David (November 17, 2008). "The Joshua Generation: Race and the campaign of Barack Obama". New Yorker. 
  5. ^ "U.S. lawmaker arrested at Sudanese embassy in Washington". Associated Press (Sudan Tribune). July 15, 2004. 
  6. ^ Office of Congressman Bobby Rush (July 15, 2004). "U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush Arrested at Sudanese Embassy". Press release. 
  7. ^ Fornek, Scott (2008-01-27). "Clinton pal Bobby Rush: I'm supporting Obama". Chicago Sun-Times.,CST-NWS-obama27.article. Retrieved 2009-01-02. 
  8. ^ a b Flournoy, Tasha (December 2, 2008). "Rush Petitions For African-American To Replace Obama in the Senate". Chicago Public Radio. 
  9. ^ a b "Cong. Bobby Rush urges governor to choose Black Senate replacement". Chicago Defender. December 3, 2008. 
  10. ^ "Blagojevich names Obama successor despite warnings". December 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  11. ^ "Bobby Rush warns Democratic senators". Chicago Breaking News. December 31, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  12. ^ Congressional background
  13. ^ On Iraq War
  14. ^ Speech regarding Bible
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ Cancer scare
  17. ^ Washington Times report on Rush's sickle-cell anemia program
  18. ^ Iota Phi Theta website
  19. ^ List of former members of the Black Panther Party

External links

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

Succeeded by


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