Rep. Bobby Rush

Karin Norington-Reaves Jumps Into Crowded Congressional Race to Replace Rush

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There is already a crowded field in the race to replace Rep. Bobby Rush in Illinois’ 1st District, but a high-profile name has also jumped into the fray, as Karin Norington-Reaves announced her candidacy on Sunday.

Norington-Reaves, currently the CEO of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, is aiming to become the first woman to be elected to Congress from the district, according to a press release from her campaign.

“Our district needs a representative that uplifts all of its people, listens to their voices, and is a tireless advocate for their needs,” she said. “As a job creator and workforce development expert, I’ve witnessed firsthand how investments in people transform lives, but we must do more.”

In 2021, her team was instrumental in the city of Chicago’s COVID vaccination efforts, and in previous years she has also worked a the deputy director of the state of Illinois’ Office of Urban Assistance, and as a professor at Loyola.

Norington-Reaves' entry into the field is a noteworthy development, as she could end up with a powerful backer in her corner: Rush himself. NBC 5 Political Reporter Mary Ann Ahern has heard from multiple sources that Rush could end up endorsing Norington-Reaves for the post, although nothing has been made official yet.

According to the Federal Election Commission, at least seven candidates have already filed papers saying they intend to run for the seat in Illinois’ 1st District. That list includes Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell, Chicago teacher Kirby Birgans, activist and Pastor Chris Butler, community activist Jahmal Cole, educator Dee Nix, and attorney Michael Thompson.

Still, others are debating whether to jump into the race.

“I’m seriously considering it,” State Sen. Elgie Sims said.

“Oh, without question (I’m considering it),” State Rep. Marcus Evans said. “The blessing part of this is that we have a lot of qualified people in the community, and I believe that I’m one of them.”

With more than a dozen confirmed and potential candidates currently eyeballing the race, Rush’s endorsement could be key, and Sims said that he would seek the Congressman’s approval if he jumped into the race.

“The legacy of service that Congressman Rush leaves is certainly one we marvel at. I’d love to have (his) support,” he said.

Rep. Bobby Rush will not seek re-election later this year, paving the way for a pitched battle to replace him. NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern, who broke the story yesterday, has more.

Endorsements aside, candidates are working to put together financial commitments to their campaigns, and are working to bring enough energy to boost voter turnout ahead of the hotly-contested June primary.

“(The key is) to make sure that you’re really connected to the constituents within the district, and to bring home those resources and those services,” Dowell said.

Both Evans and Sims said that they would focus on being a voice for their communities on the national stage.

“We need a worker. We need somebody who’s going to go to DC and fight,” Evans said.

It is not clear when Rush will announce a potential endorsement in the election.

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