Politics

Democrat Cheri Bustos Announces Retirement From Congress


After 10 years in Congress, Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) announced Friday that she will not run for reelection in 2022.

“Today, I’m announcing I will not seek reelection after completing this term,” Bustos said in a video statement first obtained by HuffPost. “It will be a new decade, and I feel it’s time for a new voice.”

It’s not clear what Bustos plans to do next.

In an interview on Friday, Bustos told HuffPost that nothing in particular was driving her decision to go. She said she tends to make big changes every 10 years ― she worked as a reporter and then an editor for about two decades, and then in health care for 10 years ― and felt it was time for another shift.

The birth of her second grandchild last month brought her entire family together for the first time in a while, she said, and really affected her. The day they gathered, she sat down with her three sons and husband to talk about her future.

Sometimes being apart so much “can be harder on families than on members,” Bustos said, citing missed baseball games and dinners cut short because of the intense level of work required from a member of Congress.

Here’s her video statement announcing her decision not to run for reelection:

Bustos likely could have held onto her seat. Illinois’ 17th congressional district “leans Democratic,” according to The Cook Political Report, and she’s comfortably won all of her reelections, though her closest race came in 2020.

In 2016, she was one of few House Democrats to win in a district that voted for President Donald Trump. She didn’t just win, either — she won in a 20-point landslide. She’s one of just seven Democrats left in Trump districts.

But the area Bustos represents is trending Republican, and the timing of her retirement announcement will be useful to Illinois Democrats as they begin the process of congressional redistricting. Democrats have full control over redistricting in her state, and now they can redraw Bustos’ current district to make it more friendly to Democrats without forcing her out of a seat.

The Illinois congresswoman has held a number of leadership roles at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which helps elect Democrats to the House. She helped recruit new candidates and flip some Republican seats to Democrat seats in the 2016 election cycle. In the 2018 cycle, she oversaw the DCCC’s efforts to boost Democrats in the Midwest.

Bustos was ultimately elected DCCC chair for the 2020 election cycle. Democrats held onto the House in November but lost seats, so Bustos resigned from her post after the election. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) then made her the chair of the House Democratic Steering Committee.

Read Bustos’ full statement announcing her retirement:

My North Star has always been to serve my community, drive real results and build a better future. As I turn every corner on each decade of life, I take time to reflect and evaluate what my next chapter might bring. That’s how, 10 years ago, I decided to run for Congress. And it’s why, today, I am announcing I will not seek reelection after completing this term. 

It has been an honor to be a voice for our family farmers, working families, those struggling to afford healthcare 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.

From helping Gold Star families and injured veterans get the help they needed after serving our nation, to increasing rural access to broadband, ensuring everyone has the resources needed to compete in our modern economy, to replacing toxic lead water pipes, I have always worked across the aisle to deliver solutions for Illinois families. It has been my profound honor to do this work, and I am proud of the progress we have made together.

But know this—our work isn’t done. It’s not only happening in the halls of Congress, but also in the aisles of our small town grocery stores, on our factory floors and on family farms. While I won’t be in Congress after January 2023, I will be here advancing the needs for our communities for the remainder of my term.

Thank you for your trust, support and friendship all these years.

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