Congressman Bobby Rush called a news conference Friday to discuss his re-election plans and while most expect him to announce he’s running again, there is speculation he is considering retiring.
When asked if the event was Rush’s campaign kickoff, his press secretary said “you’ll have to come to the announcement.” Some speculate Rush wants to remain on the primary ballot, so that if he chooses to retire after the March primary, he can help hand pick his successor.
The timing of Rush’s news conference comes as candidates begin filing next Monday their petitions to get on the ballot for the March primary.
Alderman of the 21st Ward Howard Brookins tells NBC 5 he’s definitely running whether Rush is on the ballot or not.
Alderman of the 6th Ward Will Burns is only interested if Rush decides to retire. Burns tells NBC 5 he is currently not circulating petitions, but if Rush does retire, “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”
Rush, 69, has been in Congress for 20 years. He has also battled cancer, undergoing surgery for a cancerous tumor in his salivary gland and enduring months of chemotherapy.
Rush faces the threat of investigation from the House ethics committee over campaign spending and his South Side congressional offices that he has rented for free.
He has represented the First Congressional district for 22 years. He was the co-founder of the Black Panthers and once ran for mayor. Rush has the distinction of being the only political opponent that President Barack Obama lost to when Obama ran for Congress.