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Cheri Bustos Won’t Seek Reelection in 2022

April 30, 2021 by TWN Staff

Rep. Cheri Bustos, the Illinois Democrat who led her party’s House campaign arm in the 2020 cycle when her party retained control of the house, but failed to build on the momentum of the 2018 blue wave, announced Friday she will not seek a sixth term in the House. 

She said she would serve the remainder of her current term, which ends in January 2023. 

Bustos’ district, Illinois’ 17th Congressional District, is located in the northwest corner of the state and is considered to be competitive. Bustos herself won reelection in a nail-biter in 2020 with 52% of the vote to 48% for her Republican challenger Esther Joy King. 

Given that slim margin, the National Republican Congressional Committee put Bustos on its initial target list for the 2022 midterm elections.

The nature of the district could soon be changing, however. Illinois is about to lose one seat in the House as a result of the 2020 census, and all the state’s district boundaries will have to be changed. 

Bustos led the the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2019-2020 cycle, but did not seek another term after her strategy to strengthen the party’s hold on the house failed, even with record-breaking fundraising — some $345 million — buoying her efforts.

By the time the dust settled, more than a dozen Democratic incumbents had lost, and every Republican incumbent had been re-elected.

In a written statement, Bustos said, “It has been an honor to be a voice for our family farmers, working families, those struggling to afford health care and so many more. Each time I traveled to Washington, I brought those voices with me to elevate our region and bring real and lasting change.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to word of Bustos retiring by calling her departing colleague, “an outstanding and esteemed Member of our Democratic Caucus and Congress, whose leadership has been vital to Democrats’ progress For The People. 

“Every day of her nearly ten years in the People’s House, Congresswoman Bustos has brought the values of the heartland to the Congress, helping shape Democrats’ vision of a future of prosperity and opportunity for all working families,” Pelosi continued. “In key leadership positions – from Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Co-Chair of the Steering and Policy Committee, Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee and a valued presence on the powerful Appropriations Committee – Congresswoman Bustos has consistently brought her messaging mastery and political astuteness to our work to mobilize and energize Democrats in the Congress and across the nation.

“Democrats look forward to continuing to benefit from Congresswoman Bustos’ leadership for the remainder of her term.  … As Speaker, I join all House Democrats in expressing our gratitude and respect for her many contributions and our excitement for her as she takes this step.” 

House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said from Bustos’ first day in Congress, the representative “has been a powerful voice for the people of her district and for working families across America. Cheri has never forgotten her roots in the Heartland, and her passionate advocacy has put the needs of family farmers and rural communities front and center as we shape federal policy.

“I am proud to my work alongside Representative Bustos on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, where we succeeded in increasing funding for the behavioral health workforce education and training and supporting work on social determinants of health,” DeLauro said.

“I have also seen firsthand how dedicated she is to delivering for her community, bringing federal funding and resources to Rockford, Peoria, and all of Illinois’ 17th District. I know that she will be sorely missed by her constituents, as well as her colleagues in Congress.

“I look forward to working closely with Cheri for the rest of the 117th Congress, and wish her and her family all the best as she begins a new chapter of public service,” she added.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., was similarly effusive in her tribute to her friend and colleague.

“Representative Bustos has served as, and will continue to serve as, an excellent representative for her community—she’s a hard worker who listens to her constituents, delivers tangible legislative wins for working families and provides stellar constituent service,” Duckworth said. “I’ve enjoyed working with her on critical issues facing our state, such as supporting the Rock Island Arsenal and the agricultural community, protecting roadside first responders and making sure that National Guard troops receive the pay they earned. I have no doubt she will continue to get results for her district over the remainder of her term. I thank her for her leadership and know that we will miss her voice in the next Congress even as I am confident that she will continue to serve the Illinois community in the years to come.”

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