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17 candidates vie to succeed Rep. Bobby Rush in 1st Congressional District Democratic primary

CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush is retiring when his term ends next winter, and a crowded field has emerged to replace him in the 1st Congressional District.

There are four candidates on the Republican side, and 17 on the Democratic side. Among the Democrats is Jonathan Jackson, the son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Jonathan Jackson’s brother, Jesse Jackson Jr., also served in Congress. Jonathan Jackson is a business owner and spokesman for his father’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition.  

As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported Tuesday evening, Jonathan Jackson has job creation on the top of his platform.

Also among the challengers is longtime Illinois state Sen. Jacqui Collins, who was first elected to her seat in Springfield 20 years ago. Before going into politics, Collins worked as an editor with CBS 2.

Collins is endorsed by her pastor, the Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina.

Collins’ platform emphasizes fighting violence, gun trafficking, and ghost guns.

Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) is also in the race. As CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported, Dowell was running for Illinois Secretary of State when Rush announced he would not seek reelection.

Dowell quickly switched gears and jumped into the 1st District congressional race. One aide said Dowell wanted to continue to work in a legislative body.

Dowell has been alderman for 15 years. Before that, she was a deputy commissioner in the city’s Department of Planning and Development.

Karin Norington-Reeves got a big boost when she was endorsed by Rep. Rush himself. Norington-Reeves on leave as chief executive officer of Chicago-Cook Workforce Partnership.

She has never held elective office, but says she knows how to navigate the political world – as she oversees federal employment and job training funds.

The Democratic field also includes teacher Kirby Birgans; Pastor Chris Butler; community activist and My Block, My Hood, My City founder Jahmal Cole; entrepreneur and banking professional Steven DeJoie; attorney and professor Cassandra Goodrum; educator, negotiator, and activist Terre Layng Rosner; minister Marcus Lewis; violence intervention expert Dr. Ameena Matthews; real estate broker Robert Palmer; realtor Nykea Pippion McGriff; Black Bench founder and former Chicago Board of Elections commissioner Jonathan Swain; workforce development manager Michael Thompson; and former Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority deputy director and chief of staff Charise Williams.

The candidates have made numerous stops in the city and suburbs – hoping to represent the longtime epicenter of African American political power.

On the Republican side, Eric Carlson, Jeff Regnier, Philanise White, and Geno Young are facing off. Independent Mitchel Davilo will also be running in the general election in November.

In January, Rush announced he would not seek reelection this year for a 16th term.

Rush, 75, has represented the 1st District of Illinois in Congress since 1993, and before that served for 10 years on the Chicago City Council.

Rush, said as a young civil rights activist, he could not have envisioned serving 10 years on the Chicago City Council and then 30 years in Congress. Rather, he said thought he would be dead before age 30, especially after fellow Black Panther Party members Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were assassinated on Dec. 4, 1969, during a raid on the party’s West Side headquarters by police and federal agents, ordered by then-Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan.

Rush ran for mayor unsuccessfully against Mayor Richard M. Daley in 1999, and won reelection for his seat Congress the following year after fighting off a primary challenge from then-Illinois state senator and future President Barack Obama.

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