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Bronzeville, Near South Side

Former Rep. Bobby Rush Endorses Paul Vallas In Chicago’s Mayor Race

The endorsement comes as Brandon Johnson garnered recent support from Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Ald. Jason Ervin.

Former Congressman Bobby Rush endorsed Paul Vallas for mayor on 47th St. in Bronzeville on March 21, 2023.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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BRONZEVILLE — Retired Rep. Bobby Rush is throwing his weight behind Paul Vallas for Chicago mayor, the latest in a string of high-profile endorsements for both mayoral candidates with two weeks to go until the April 4 runoff.

Vallas, a former Chicago Public Schools CEO, is facing off against Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. Vallas came in first of nine candidates in the Feb. 28 election, receiving 33 percent of the vote. Johnson followed with about 22 percent.

Over the past week, Johnson has been endorsed by former mayoral candidate Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, civil rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson and Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), chair of City Council’s Black Caucus.

Rush announced his support for Vallas Tuesday morning at a South Side news conference.

A longtime congressman and co-founder of the Illinois Black Panther Party in the ’60s, Rush retired last year after three decades in office. Rep. Jonathan Jackson, the son of Jesse Jackson, won the seat for the 1st Congressional District in November. The younger Jackson has endorsed Johnson.

“Which of the two candidates has the most significant, the most relevant experience? And which of the candidates is able to make the independent, sound judgements that are necessary to move our city forward? That candidate is Paul Vallas,” Rush said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Former Congressman Bobby Rush endorsed Paul Vallas for mayor on 47th St. in Bronzeville on March 21, 2023.

Rush had endorsed incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot ahead of the Feb. 28 election, a marked change after he lambasted the then-political newcomer in 2019 for her record on police reform. Rush ultimately backed Cook County board President Toni Preckwinkle in that election.

“The opposing candidate is representing the FOP,” Rush said at a Preckwinkle rally in March 2019, as reported by the Tribune. “If you want the FOP, then you’ll vote for Lori.”

Rush was referencing the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago’s rank-and-file police union, which has opposed reforms and defended officers accused of misconduct. But Lightfoot was not endorsed by the union in 2019 or 2023 — while Vallas won the union’s support in this year’s election.

“My stance on the FOP and my stance on police in general is, is that I am not anti-police. I’m anti-bad police, and I’m pro-good police,” Rush said Tuesday. “I think that overall, there are more good ponies than there are bad ponies.”

Lightfoot, who came in third place Feb. 28, has not announced any endorsement plans.

See Block Club’s roundup of mayoral endorsements here. Election Day is April 4. Early voting is now underway.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Former Congressman Bobby Rush endorsed Paul Vallas for mayor on 47th St. in Bronzeville on March 21, 2023.

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