Rep. Bobby Rush formally announces he won't seek reelection

FILE - U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., waves to guests in the balcony as he takes his seat on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, before President Donald Trump's speech to a joint session of Congress. Longtime U.S. Rep. Rush, Rush formally announced Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, that he will not seek a 16th term in the U.S. House. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File) (Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

CHICAGO – Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois formally announced Tuesday that he will not seek a 16th term in the U.S. House.

The former Black Panther who first won election in 1992 said in a speech at a Chicago church that he isn't retiring from public service.

“I will remain on the front lines,” he said.

Rush's announcement is creating a flurry of interest among potential candidates for the heavily Democratic district, which is based on the South Side of Chicago. Under newly approved congressional maps, the district will stretch into suburban and rural areas located south and southwest of the city.

In a statement Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Rush showed “fearless leadership to combat violence in our communities — from heinous hate crimes to the horrors of gun violence,” during his nearly three decades in Congress.

Rush is the 24th House Democrat to announce that they will not run for reelection this year. Eleven House Republicans have said they won't seek reelection this fall, when the GOP is looking to win control of the chamber.

Rush is the only person to win an election over former President Barack Obama, whom he defeated in a 2000 congressional primary when Obama was an Illinois state senator.