U.S. Congressman Rush fires up Election Day workers and voters

Urges them to come out in huge numbers on Tuesday


By Chinta Strausberg


U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-1st) spent the weekend rallying Democrats including his constituents to come out in record numbers on Tuesday not just to send him back to Washington but also to show Illinois they are an historic and political force to be reckoned with and a powerhouse other Democrats must ultimately meet along the road to victory.

The long anticipated Election Day is less than 24-hours away. Election Day is tomorrow, Tuesday, March 20, 2012, a day when temperatures are expected to be an unprecedented 82 degrees and a time when voters will once again flex their political muscle.

Last month, Chicago Board of Elections Chairman Langdon Neal announced that 1.28 million people were registered to vote in Chicago, which he says is the lowest number of registered voters since 1944. Turnout is key to victory.

With a history of service, a commitment to progress, and a track record of legislative success, Rep. Rush met with Eighth Ward Democratic leaders Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), Rep. Marlow Colvin (D-33rd) at the 8th Ward Regular Democratic Organization’s office, 8539 South Cottage Grove, where he was enthusiastically welcomed by scores of energetic precinct captains.  He also spoke at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Hall at 600 W. Washington, where he urged everyone to exercise their right to vote come Tuesday.

At the 8th ward headquarters in introducing Rush, Ald. Harris said, he takes care of his constituents.  “He’s involved in the process. He’s involved with the community. He’s involved in the Eighth Ward in bringing dollars back…..  I can tell you that Congressman Bobby Rush has brought the dollars home. This is the name that we are pushing….”

After an extended applause, Rush looked out over the early morning standing-room only crowd said, “This is a phenomenon that you don’t see in the black community much anymore. Good ward organizations, precinct captains the weekend before the election is almost something that none of us have in the African American community anymore and it’s part of our problem in terms of why we are not realizing our potential in the body politics of the city, state and the nation,” he said.

Calling Harris, who is also the ward committeeman, a “wonderful, outstanding, overwhelming, and most excellent alderman in the city of Chicago,” Rush praised the 8th Ward Organization calling it “an historic organization.”

While he grew up in the Second Ward where he was once the alderman and the ward committeeman, Rush said, “I was always proud of the legacy in the 8th Ward Democratic organization.”

Rush spoke of the late Congressman Ralph Metcalfe, once the ward committeeman of the 3rd Ward and a product of the late Congressman William Dawson’s organization and how a precinct captain came to the 3rd Ward named John Stroger “and he learned at Metcalfe’s and Dawson’s knees and what he learned as a precinct captain in the 3rd Ward, when it became his turn to become a committeeman in the 8th Ward, he carried that knowledge and understanding into the 8th Ward.

“He built this organization and made it the best ward organization within the city of Chicago,” Rush said “If you look at the record, the 8th Ward was always up there either number one or two in turns of turnout, in terms of vote, in terms of who they elected.

“The 8th Ward set the pace out here for many years, and it’s still setting the pace,” said Rush who gave them a history lesson in Chicago politics. “You ought to know where you’re at. You ought to know how God has prepared you and blessed you where you’re at. If you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know where you’re arriving….

“This organization is one of strongest organizations in the city of Chicago. Rush said no candidate seeking election could win if they don’t carry this ward overwhelmingly. “That’s the key,” he told the precinct captains.” “You have long legacy, a long history, and you’ve been fortunate to have some outstanding, consistent political leadership down the line and this ward is one of the best wards in the country, one of the highest voting wards in the country, one of the best producing wards in the country.”

Rush, who said Ald. Harris’ friendship means a great deal to him, reminded them of how he brought back a million dollars to help build a new addition to the Jackson Park Hospital, and earmarked $200,000 for the 8th Ward-based South Central Community Services organization, along with the millions that have come to the ward via the 2009 federal stimulus package. Rush also spoke of his plans for restoring the Metra Station at 95th and Cottage Grove Avenue.

He told the precinct captains that the people of the ward need them especially their leadership. “The question is whether you can deliver,” Rush said referring to the low voter turnout predicted by the Chicago Board of Election. “They are going to judge you not in November but in March as to how tough you are and how many voters you can deliver. Take this weekend and make it work for you and for your community. We are all counting on you.”

Referring to President Barack Obama, Rush urged them to tell voters to vote for the President. “Not withstanding what they are saying,  he is the best president that we got,” he told a cheering crowd. “If he gets four more years, he will be the best president that we’ve ever had….. As soon as they go into the poll, look for Obama’s name, then mosey on down and punch 11” to return Rush to congress. “Don’t stop with Obama now…,” he said. “Make sure they vote for Bobby Rush.

“There are two things I’ve always said I didn’t want to do in office, one is that never wanted to embarrass my constituents, and I wanted to deliver to my constituents.” Rush said he has kept both commitments and want to continue.

Harris said, “In our community, everybody loves Congressman Rush; so he’s an easy sell…. He’s working hard for the community.” Harris told her precinct captains “we need to deliver big numbers.” 

She added “the people have a lot of confidence in this organization and that we are going to do the right thing.”

Before Rush left, he recognized Gwen Duncan-Alexander who was the assistant to the late John Stroger. He also recognized Rep. Colvin and thanked him for his leadership in Springfield.  “He’s mature. He’s articulate. He is one of the best-elected officials. I know he is qualified and capable and he has demonstrated a record of accomplishments….”

Colvin said the good weather “gives us no excuses for touching as many voters between now and election day as possible.” He said what Obama needs is a big vote. “He needs your momentum to send a strong signal that he is going to be in a very difficult race and the votes we give him today will probably change the way they strategize against him.”

Colvin said if voters come out and vote for Obama, they will vote for others the 8th Ward is pushing. Colvin too called for a huge voter turnout. He praised Rush for surviving 19-years as a member of Congress which greatly “speaks to his character.”

“One thing that John Stroger always talked about was how character always counts. You can’t ignore it. We’re under constant scrutiny and the only thing you have to do is to keep your nose clean….”

Colvin said of the 8th Ward, “We’ve had some difficult times here. We’ve had some great times here but through it all we’ve had you and that is why we’re still here…. This is a small and dinky place, but the power that emanates from here is enormous.” He praised Harris for becoming the President Pro Tem of the City Council. “That speaks of who we are….”

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.