Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Numerous battles haven't slowed Rep. Bobby Rush

Congressman Rush represents a portion of Chicago's 6th Ward. Read the whole thing, although what I excerpt below is near this Tribune article's conclusion:
Another hopeful is the Republican mayor of Blue Island, Donald Peloquin, a mortician and funeral home owner. He said more needs to be done for economic development, including redeveloping old industrial sites as intermodal transportation hubs.

Democrats whose names get tossed around as potential challengers — including state Sen. Kwame Raoul, 46, and 4th Ward Ald. Will Burns, 38 — said they won't challenge Rush. Asked about the area's rising stars, Rush cited state Sen. Mattie Hunter, the majority caucus whip; Ald. Michelle Harris, 8th; and former 6th Ward Ald. Freddrenna Lyle.

This year, Rush has gone to the House floor to publicly mourn constituents who have died and to laud Orland Hills for its 50th anniversary. On a more substantive score, he criticized Republicans, who recaptured House control in January, for holding a hearing on radicalization within the U.S. Muslim community.

Does he shy from meaty issues? "There are a lot of people who spend all of their time before the cameras on the House floor," he said. "I pick my fights."

But some Democrats complain that he's ineffective. "That's what attracted Barack to challenge him in the first place: He was considered a 'back bencher,'" said one longtime political activist in his district, who because of work in public policy did not wish to be identified.

Friends disagree. On the South Side, Timuel Black, a longtime activist and former teacher, said Rush may be older and frailer but he continues to advocate for the less fortunate "whether they are black, white or brown."

At DePaul University, political scientist Michael Mezey said Rush's reputation is that of a strong liberal who is neither a show horse with a national name nor a work horse who has developed an expertise so great that other lawmakers seek advice and information. "He does his job," Mezey said. "He shows up for work. He takes care of the constituency. There are a large number of people like that."

His Beloved Community Church, and its affiliated health care center and youth programs, likely have helped burnish his reputation. Rush, who said he preaches almost every Sunday before 75 to 150 people, agreed to be photographed at the church on Sept. 11, then changed his mind, saying through spokeswoman Renee Ferguson that the church board would not allow it.

The church itself has received more than $165,000 from Rush's campaign treasury. He's paid wife Carolyn as a consultant; since 2002, she's received $270,500 from the war chest. "She's a bit underpaid for what she does," according to Rush, who said she manages the political operation, oversees the filing of Federal Election Commission reports and gives advice.

Rush is close to Bill and Hillary Clinton and has campaigned for scores of candidates, including Gov. Pat Quinn. He was outspoken in favor of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's controversial decision to name Roland Burris to fill Obama's Senate seat.

He also has friends in the GOP, among them Dennis Hastert, the former House speaker from Illinois. Both Rush and Hastert said the speaker was key in getting federal dollars for the Beloved Community Family Wellness Center.

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