Despite the big wins in the White House and the Senate, 2020 was still a tough year for House Democrats. As you probably recall, going into the election Democrats were hoping to pick up as many as 10-15 House seats. In fact, Cook Political Report concluded Dems would likely again that many in its final pre-election forecast.
What actually happened was a loss of a dozen seats. The stunning turnaround prompted one unnamed Democratic lawmaker to tell Politico, “It’s a dumpster fire.” And while some Democrats were upset with Nancy Pelosi, others took out their frustration on AOC and her Squad. And to be fair, they probably had a point. AOC had been pushing unpopular policies (defunding the police, banning fracking, socialism) and, as always, getting lots of media attention. That made things tough on moderates in purple and red districts.
But another person who took a hit from all of this was Rep. Cheri Bustos, the House member who was in charge of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2020. Bustos announced after the election that she would not seek to continue running the DCCC. Today she announced she would not seek reelection to the House next year:
Rep. Cheri Bustos, House Democrats’ former campaign chief, announced Friday she would retire from Congress after this term, in one of the party’s first midterm surprises of the cycle…
The Illinois Democrat had remained a member of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team this year, and few in the caucus directly blamed Bustos for their down-ballot disaster last November. Still, the Illinois Democrat decided not to lead the party arm again, and several people close to Bustos said she had been unhappy in the House in recent years and that her decision was not entirely unexpected…
Republicans were quick to mock Bustos’ announcement, with a spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee saying she made “the right decision to retire rather than face defeat in 2022.”
Bustros won her own seat narrowly in 2020 in a district that Trump won twice. And it does seem likely this would be harder to hold in a midterm election when the party in the White House usually loses seats.
Here’s a video she posted explaining her decision. She promises that “in time” she’ll have more to say about what she plans to do next. Some believe she has her eye on a Senate seat but Politico points out Sen. Duckworth is running for reelection next year and Sen. Durbin’s term isn’t up until 2026 (at which point Durbin will be 81). So that may be her longer term plan.
Today, following a decade of service in Washington, I am announcing that I will not seek reelection in Congress after completing my fifth term. pic.twitter.com/eWQYJADyyA
— Cheri Bustos (@CheriBustos) April 30, 2021