Chicago Democrat And Former Black Panther Latest House Member To Retire
UNITED STATES - JUNE 22: Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., flanked by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Dan Gross, president Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, speaks about his family's experience with gun violence as House Democrats rally on the House steps to speak about gun legislation on Wednesday, June 8, 2016.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Democratic Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush announced his retirement from Congress Monday, the latest in an exodus of prominent Democrats in the US House of Representatives.

Rush, 75, told the Chicago Sun-Times Monday that he would not seek another term. Rush represents Illinois’s 1st Congressional district, which encompasses parts of the South Side of Chicago and extends to the city’s southwest suburbs. The district is a Democratic stronghold drawn under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in order to facilitate the election of a black representative to Congress. He was first elected in 1992, and notably defeated a primary challenge from then-State Senator Barack Obama in 2000.

Rush dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Army. He earned his GED, and later graduated from Roosevelt University in 1973. He was also a co-founder of the Illinois Black Panther Party in the 1960s. Later in life, he became an ordained minister and is currently the pastor of Beloved Community Christian Church of God in Christ in Chicago.

Rush told the Sun-Times that he was retiring to spend more time with his family, after a conversation with his 19-year old grandson, who told him he wanted to learn more about his grandfather’s story.

“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.”

Rush’s district is not expected to be competitive, but his retirement is the latest in a series of high-profile retirements from veteran Democrats, as expectations of a Republican wave continue to build. The Daily Wire reported on December 20th:

Stephanie Murphy, Democratic representative from Florida’s 7th Congressional District, and co-chair of the House Blue Dog Coalition, announced Monday that she would not seek a fourth term in the House, saying that she wanted to spend more time with family…

Murphy’s retirement was joined Monday by the retirement of Democratic Representative Albio Sires, who has represented New Jersey’s 8th congressional district since 2006. The Hill reported Monday morning that Sires, a Cuban immigrant from the New York City suburb of West New York, is expected to formally announce his plans before the end of the year. The Hill also reported that Robert J. Menendez, the son of current U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, is the front-runner to replace Sires, who himself replaced the elder Menendez when he was appointed to the Senate.

Murphy and Sires are joined by Democratic Rep. Alan Lowenthal, who represents California’s 47th congressional district.

The retirements of Murphy, Sires, and Lowenthal brings the total number of Democratic retirements in the House to 21, with just under a year left until the 2022 midterms, according to a list compiled by Axios.  Notable retirements include former Congressional Black Caucus chairman G.K. Butterfield, current House Budget Committee chairman John Yarmuth, and longtime Texas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio also announced his retirement after the current term in a post on December 1.

The Washington Post also reported Monday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to retire after the 2022 midterms.

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