By Joe Boyle
Cong. Bobby Rush (D-1st), who has represented the district since 1993, compiled a decisive victory over three challengers in the primary race Tuesday night.
Rush, 73, defeated Sarah Gad, Dr. Ameena Nuur Matthews and Robert Emmons Jr. Rush, a Chicago resident, was considered vulnerable because his opponents believed he has been in office too long and is out of step with the voters.
But the incumbent proved that was not true, at least according to the unofficial totals. With 153 of 158 precincts reporting in suburban Cook County, Rush had 16,275 votes for 58.54 percent. Gad had 5,199 votes for 18.67 percent, followed by Emmons with 3,489 votes for 18.67 percent, and Matthews with 2,885 with 10.36 percent.
In Chicago, Rush was just as dominating with 305 out of 406 precincts reporting. The incumbent had 33,524 votes for 79.54 percent. Emmons had 3,425 votes for 8.13 percent. Matthews registered 2,898 votes for 6.88 percent, while Gad had 2,301 votes for 5.46 percent.
Philanese White, Republican committeeman of Chicago's 7th Ward, was unopposed in the primary. She will face Rush in November.
The vast district stretches as far east as the lakefront on Chicago's South Side and as far south as Frankfort in Will County. It also takes in all or part of several Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs including Evergreen Park, Oak Lawn, Orland Park, Palos Heights and Worth.
Rush serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, chairing the Energy Subcommittee. One of his most recent accomplishments was the passage recently of the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, which makes lynching a federal hate crime punishable by life in prison. Till, a Chicago resident whose mother was from Summit, was 14 when he was lynched in 1955 in Mississippi.
A former member of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers, Rush's political career began out of the civil rights movement. Rush, who supported Michael Bloomberg for president, responded to his opponents by saying that it his experience and his ability to relate to his constituents that has made him the right choice for the district.
Emmons had bought up the fact Rush has been absent for long periods and was not present to vote on several key issues. Rush said that was due to his own personal health crisis and the fact he had to take care of his wife, who was ill. He added that it has made him stronger since his wife died and his son was murdered.
Rush was not available for comment on Tuesday night. But his longtime battle with cancer is well known. The congressman believe it is his ability to defy those odds that help him relate to residents of the 1st District.