By Joe Boyle
Cong. Bobby Rush (D-1st) has pointed to his experience as the main reason he deserves another term.
Apparently, the voters of the 1st District agree.
Rush was a convincing winner in Tuesday's General Election, defeating Republican Philanese White and independent Ruth Pellegrini by a wide margin. Unofficial totals with 92 percent of the ballots cast show Rush with 184,124 votes. White was a distant second with 72,370 votes.
Pellegrini was a write-in candidate after she was disqualified from the General Election ballot. Her unofficial totals as of Tuesday night had her with about 0.2 percent of the vote.
Rush was pleased with the victory and said that there is one issue that needs to be dealt with in the next four years.
"The biggest issue facing my district is the epidemic of gun violence," Rush said. "This problem is exacerbated by the lack of jobs and access to education. While these may seem like distinct issues, they are, in fact, interconnected because a lack of educational opportunities leads to a lack of jobs, which is a key factor in the rise in violence."
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, 73, has served the 1st District since 1993. Before that, he was a Chicago alderman for the 2nd Ward from 1983 to 1993. He said voters responded to the fact that he helped pass legislation to improve the lives of people living in the 1st District, including COVID-19 relief.
"When this pandemic first descended upon this nation, I moved swiftly to help pass $8.3 billion in emergency coronavirus funding, followed by legislation to provide free coronavirus testing, paid and family leave, direct stimulus payments, and expanded unemployment benefits for struggling Americans," Rush said.
Rush is the senior member of the House and chairman of the Energy Subcommittee. A former member of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers, Rush's political career began out of the civil rights movement.
White was unopposed in the March primary. White, a renal technician, has served as the president of the Great Lakes Illinois Republican Women and has been a member of the Illinois Federation of Republican Women. She was elected as the Republican Committeewoman of Chicago's 7th Ward in 2016.
She was unavailable for comment on Tuesday night but previously said that she would improve job opportunities in the most blighted areas of the 1st District. She also supports additional financial support for veterans.
White did not want to comment earlier on reports that she has promoted QAnon, a conspiracy theory group that believes Satan-worshipping pedophiles were plotting against President Trump.
Pellegrini, whose experience includes working in outdoor advertising, said she is a concerned business woman and that bad political leadership has led to worsening conditions for everyone in the 1st District.
She was not available for comment Tuesday but had previously mentioned that jobs can be created with the right leadership.
In another local race, state Rep. Fran Hurley (D-35th) will return for another term after soundly defeating Republican Herbert Hebein Tuesday night. Unofficial totals have Hurley with 26,758 to 16,687 with 98 percent of the vote.
Hurley assumed in office back in 2013. Her professional experience includes being the former aide to Chicago Aldermen Ginger Rugai and Matthew O'Shea of the 19th Ward.
She sponsored a bill to create the Domestic Violence Task Force Act. She has served as the chair of the Human Services Committee, and has been the vice chair of the Museums, Arts and Cultural Enhancement Committee.
Hurley has also sponsored legislation to create the First Responder Suicide Prevention Task Force and became co-chair of the group. She also advocates for individuals with special needs and sits on the Illinois Special Olympics Board.
She had defeated Hebein in the 2018 General Election by nearly 69 percent of the vote. Unopposed in the Tuesday General Election were state Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-16th), state Rep. Mary Flowers (D-31st), state Rep. Andre Thapedi (D-32nd) and state Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th).