The only politician to ever beat former President Barack Obama in an election is calling his political career quits.
Democrat Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois announced Tuesday that he won’t be seeking another term in Congress, according to NPR.
“I have been reassigned”
“After nearly three decades in Congress, I have been reassigned,” Rush said Tuesday, according to NPR.
“Let me make it clear that I am not retiring, I am returning,” he added. “I’m returning home, returning to my church, returning to my family and grandchildren — but my calling to a life of service is stronger than ever. I am expanding my tent beyond the guardrails of Congress.”
Rush went on to declare that despite the fact that he is leaving Congress, he will continue his activism back at home.
“I am not leaving the battlefield,” he said, according to The Guardian. “I am going to be an activist as long as I’m here in the land of the living, and I will be making my voice heard in the public realm — from the pulpit, in the community, and in the halls of power.”
Decades in Congress
Rush has been one of the leading figures in Chicago politics for decades, and is particularly well-known for his work advocating for racial justice. In the 1960s, he was one of the co-founders of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, as NPR notes.
Of course, he is also well-known for being the only politician to beat Obama in an election. The now-former president unsuccessfully challenged Rush in the 2000 Democratic primary to represent Illinois’ 1st Congressional District. Rush has held that seat for roughly three decades.
If he had opted to pursue re-election and won, it would have been Rush’s 16th term in the lower chamber, NPR reported.
Retirements adding up
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a statement on Tuesday lamenting Rush’s retirement and lauding him as a “champion of civil rights.”
“[Rush] has devoted his entire life to the fight for racial justice,” she said, according to NPR. “When he retires at the end of his term, Congress, his constituents and the country will deeply miss his prayerful and powerful voice for justice in the House.”
His retirement makes Rush one of more than two dozen Democrats who won’t be returning to the House after their current term. Others to announce their retirements in recent weeks include Michigan’s Brenda Lawrence and New Jersey’s Albio Sires, NPR reports.