Bobby Rush will continue to represent the 1st Congressional District of Illinois on Capitol Hill after winning his 11th term Tuesday.
As of 10:40 p.m. Tuesday, Rush took in 212,661 votes, compared to 70,903 votes for challenger Don Peloquin, who campaigned as the Republican nominee for the seat. The count was with 582 of 617 precincts reporting from Suburban Cook County, Will County and Chicago.
The new 1st Congressional District now holds a northeast boundary just around Chicago’s Bronzeville community, continuing near the Dan Ryan and along I-57, before cutting west, including towns south of I-80, before ending at rural Elwood at its farthest southwest point. The district includes Chicago neighborhoods, such as Hyde Park, Washington Park, Auburn Gresham, Chatham, Burnside, Washington Heights and Beverly.
Past the city, Evergreen Park, Oak Lawn, Palos Heights, Alsip, Blue Island, Oak Forest, Midlothian, Tinley Park, Orland Park, Orland Hills, Mokena, New Lenox, Frankfort, Manhattan and several other towns are now within the same congressional district along with the Chicago neighborhoods.
Bobby Rush was not immediately available for comment.
Don Peloquin said the campaign as an experience brought plenty of rewards, even with the loss.
"I'm encouraged that so many people got together, worked hard, went out and became part of the process instead of sitting on the sidelines," Peloquin said, in a phone interview. "The campaign brought different people from different areas together. To me, this is what America is about. I feel privileged to be able to run for Congress."
Rush, 65, came to politics after activism. He grew up on Chicago’s West Side after moving from Albany, GA, when he was 8 months old. Rush served in the U.S. Army from 1963 to 1968, and joined the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in 1966, before going AWOL from the Army. He later was honorably discharged.
Rush then founded the Black Panther Party’s Illinois chapter after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Following a stint in prison for firearm possession, he established a free medical clinic that began the most widespread sickle-cell anemia testing program in the country.
He holds two master’s degrees, one in political science and the other in theological studies. Rush has served as a church pastor and is an ordained Baptist minister.
During his time in Congress, Rush has supported the Telecommunications Act of 1996 under President Bill Clinton, while more recently he supported the Affordable Health Care Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. He has also supported numerous gun control laws.
He claims to have brought over $1 billion in funds to the 1st District during his decade in office.
Rush claims the distinction as the only politician to beat President Barack Obama in an election, doing so in the 2000 congressional primary. In October 1999, Rush’s son Huey Rush was killed in a shooting. About five months later, Rush also buried his father.
In 2005, Rush faced foreclosure on his home at the same time he was creating programs to help inner-city residents who were failing on their mortgages.
In 2008, Rush developed cancer of a salivary gland that was later treated through a debilitating combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. He announced he had beaten the disease after five months of treatment.
Rush still engages in activism even while in office. Earlier in the year, he donned a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses on the House floor to protest the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and was kicked off the floor.
Peloquin served as Blue Island mayor for 27 years, and said earlier in the campaign he will not run for another term as mayor. This was his first campaign for an office other than the city's mayoral seat.
Peloquin said he doesn't see another political move for him on the horizon.
“I'll go back to work,” Peloquin said. "I'll continue working with the great mayors around here I've built relationships with. When my term as mayor is completed April of next year, I'll leave with my head held high."
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