Prominent Black lawmaker Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) announced on Dec. 4 that he will retire after 30 years in Congress and yet another Democrat is heading off to retirement. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) announced the same day that she will not run for reelection. Hers is the 25th retirement by a House Democrat as the party faces tough challenges in the midterm elections.
Rush, 75, was elected to Congress in 1992 and served 15 terms. A former Black Panther, ex-Chicagoan and a minister, Rush told the Chicago Sun-Times he plans to stay active in his ministry.
A four-term member of Congress, Lawrence, 67, is vice-chair of the House Appropriations Committee. In 2001, she became the first woman and African American to be elected mayor of Southfield, Michigan, The Washington Post reported.
“Today, after reflecting on my journey — and, oh my goodness, what a journey — and having conversations with my family, I am announcing that I will not be seeking reelection to Congress,” Lawrence said in a video posted to her official Twitter account.
“You made me your congresswoman,” Lawrence said. “It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to be your voice in Congress and to fight for our communities and issues in Washington, D.C., on a national platform.”
Democrats may have a hard time in Michigan in the 2022 midterm elections. In December, Michigan’s independent redistricting commission approved new maps for the state’s congressional districts for the next 10 years. The state will have 13 districts — one less than it has now.
A group of Black lawmakers is planning to file a lawsuit to block the implementation of the new maps. They contend that the maps violate the U.S. Voting Rights Act and the Michigan Constitution in part because the state will no longer have two majority-minority congressional districts, the Associated Press reported.
“As we have a new redistricting map, a new generation of leaders will step up,” Lawrence said in her video post. “We need to make sure our elected officials in Michigan and across the country look like our communities. It is not lost on me that I’m currently the only Black member of the Michigan congressional delegation in both the House and the Senate.”
Photo: Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., supports the Equal Rights Amendment to be added to the U.S. Constitution at a news conference on Capitol Hill, Oct. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)