One of the few contested elections in the southwest suburbs on March 15 ballots will be the race between incumbent Cong. Bobby Rush (D-1st) and two challengers battling for the seat in Congress that he has held since 1993.
The 1st District stretches south and west from the Chicago lakefront to communities such as Manhattan and Elwood in Will County. Locally, it includes alll or part of Evergreen Park, Oak Lawn, Palos Heights, Worth and Orland Park, as well as nearby communities such as Alsip and Crestwood.
Rush, 69, seldom has serious primary challengers, but this year, Howard Brookins Jr., and O. Patrick Brutus are running against him.
In the November general election, whoever wins will face either Jimmy Lee Tillman II or August O’Neill Deuser, the two candidates running in the Republican primary for the seat long held by Democrats.
Tillman, who promises to provide representation to "the urban and middle-class communities in Cook County to the rural and bedroom communities in Will County," is the son of former Chicago alderman Dorothy Tillman.
Brookins, who has garnered the backing of House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-22nd), the chairman of the state Democratic Party, probably has the greatest chance of unseating the incumbent. He is an attorney now serving his third term as alderman of the 21st Ward on the South Side of Chicago.
In addition to being alderman since 2003, he is also a partner in the Brookins and Wilson law firm, as well as a licensed funeral director. Prior to that, Brookins was an assistant public defender, assistant state’s attorney, and special assistant attorney general. He serves on the board of Community Media Workshop, a no-profit organization.
Brookins lists the three core issues of his campaign as job creation, public safety, and education.
He has criticized Rush for not being accessible enough to his constituents.
Patrick has been coordinator of economic development for the Department of Planning and Development for the past nine years. Prior to that, he spent 11 years with the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Madigan has not said publicly why he has given his support to Brookins, but his father, Howard Brookins Sr., served in the Illinois Legislature with Madigan from 1982 to 1992, first as a representative and then a senator.
Brooks has said that he has known Madigan since his father was a state representative, and asked him for his support and was “proud” to get it.
Brookins is listed as the preferred candidate on voting information being distributed by Madigan’s organization.
While Rush is often accused of not being accessible in his district or active in Washington, a press release posted on his website points out the House's passage on Monday of a bill he introduced aimed at opening up more jobs for minorities in the energy sector won bipartisan approval. It will now go to the Senate for consideration.
With the passage of H.R. 4583, Rush said in a statement, “Today, the American public witnessed a House united in creating economic growth for all people,” said Rush. “Here we have bipartisan members of the Energy and Commerce Committee who represent various constituencies from diverse regions of the country and who come with different political persuasions. We were able to put aside our differences and focus our efforts on bringing forth a jobs bill that will benefit all communities and help lift up the entire American economy.”