Image Source: WTTW News
Northwest and West-Central Illinois District is likely to get someone else to represent them in Congress during the next election following Democratic U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos’ announcement that she would not seek re-election when her tenure elapses next year. In her words, “Serving the community and driving real results to build a better future has always been the core of my mission, and over the years, I have taken stock of each decade to re-evaluate how I can serve better. Running for Congress ten years ago was a move I made to serve better, but now, I think I have to give room for a new voice to represent the people.”
The 59-year old Congresswoman was once seen as a rising star among the House Democrats owing to her feat of winning a territory that was largely Republican. Bustos’ Announcement came at a time that Democrats are working on redrawing the maps for the 17 congressional districts in Illinois, which used to be 18 but were cut down because of the results of the 2020 federal census. Currently, in the United States Congress, Democrats have a 13-5 edge over Republicans in the House delegation. The Democrat party was also expected to lose one seat in the downstate region supporting the Republican Party.
Having a Democrat take over Bustos’ Seat under the new map may be a problem for Democrats who need more territories to keep it under their control. In 2018, Bustos’ won the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee because of her pull and win in GOP areas. However, problems surfaced for her as more progressive Democratic candidates challenged incumbents in the party. Bustos’ was known for her policy of prohibiting political consultants, advisers, and vendors from working with the DCCC if they worked against incumbents. Even though many predicted that Democrats would pick up House seats in 2020, Republicans won seven Seats and closed the gap between them and the Democrats in the house. Bustos’ announced that she would not seek another term as DCCC chair.
Bustos’ considered running for governor in 2018 but instead chose to remain in Congress. Her name has been considered for future office positions, including nominating her for Illinois secretary of state, but a few people already announced their intention to run for the nomination with Jesse White’s retirement. The chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly of Matteson, says Bustos’ decision not to run is a big loss and a big blow. “Illinoisans have not had a better champion,” he says. “I am sure she will continue to be a strong advocate for the state no matter what her next chapter entails,” he adds.
Bustos has received glowing farewell messages and commendations over her past achievements and roles in Congress. While no one knows what her next steps are regarding her political career, hopes are high in the Rockford community and Illinois that she will remain active in the political scene making a difference.