* Sorry for coming a bit late to this, but here’s The Hill…
Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), the head of House Democrats’ campaign arm, is facing an increasingly competitive reelection bid to represent Illinois’ 17th District.
Bustos, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), represents a congressional district that then-candidate Donald Trump narrowly won in 2016. And while she trounced her GOP competitor in 2018, winning by more than 24 percentage points, Bustos is now facing what may be her most expensive and heated battle yet against GOP candidate Esther Joy King.
The Cook Political Report on Wednesday moved Bustos’ race against King from likely Democrat to a lean Democrat district. And internal GOP polling has also elevated Republican hopes that they can win the seat from the woman leading the House Democrats’ campaign effort.
Bustos, in a Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday, projected confidence heading into the final stretch, while also acknowledging that she has always expected tough races with her Trump-leaning district.
“We are well prepared to finish strong and I live the advice that I give to all of our frontliners and red to blue candidates, which is run your race like you’re running for mayor…everything is hyperlocal,” Bustos said in part. “You show up, you listen, you fight for the people at home, and everything you do is for the people you represent.”
Asked why the race was tightening, Bustos said it is a “Trump district” and noted that her campaign has had to figure out ways to campaign in her district’s 14 counties amid the pandemic.
It’s more of a swing district at the very top. President Trump won it by less than a point, about the same as Gov. Pritzker won it two years ago. The Republicans think they caught her napping. We’ll see.
“[H]er opponent, who supports the lawsuit that would raise health care costs and take away protections for people with preexisting conditions, just moved to the district from Chicago right before filing to run for Congress,” said Bustos campaign manager Tom Bryant. […]
Some reports have also raised questions about King’s claims about starting various social media and media-focused companies, which have little presence online. King, in response, has blasted Bustos for the scrutiny, claiming she is attempting to distract from her record representing the district.
“This is what Washington politicians like Cheri Bustos do when voters have had enough of them - they attack and distort their opponent’s record as a distraction from the fact that Bustos is helping create jobs in China, not here Illinois,” King said.
King’s campaign has also dismissed accusations of being a carpetbagger, noting she moved for military training and opted to remain in the area. […]
King and other GOP critics, meanwhile, are claiming that Bustos is absent from the district, which is helping her campaign gain traction.
* Peoria Public Radio…
A King-commissioned poll conducted by the Tarrance Group of 418 17th District voters Oct. 10-12 put Bustos at 49% and King at 44%, with 7% saying they were still undecided. Seventy percent of th0se polled recognized King’s name.
The King campaign and pollster declined to release the full polling data, or provide additional information about the results on the record.
Wasserman said Bustos became chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in part because she proved she can pull off Democratic victories in more conservative districts through her own success, but said that role also opens her up to attacks linking her closely to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
* From Mark Maxwell’s interview…
Maxwell: All right. Also this: I think this is your first time running for public office. Correct me if I’m wrong, a political newcomer, but not your first time in government. I noticed on your resume, you worked for Governor Rauner for a short stint. That was back in his early days, but didn’t last too long. What happened there? Why’d you leave? How’d you like it?
King: Yeah. Well, what I loved, Mark, about working for the state of Illinois as Director of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology is I got to be around business owners. I got to be around entrepreneurs and it was my job to help grow and promote the business community of Illinois, which is actually exactly what I’m excited to be doing as Representative. Our business owners need help right now, Mark. We absolutely need support during this time of pandemic. For example, there’s a section of the Illinois 17th that has been rolled back, and business owners are like, “We can’t shut down again, Esther. We’re not going to make it through. And so getting them support is actually really critical, Mark, and what we’ve seen from Congress, whose job it is to help pass a stimulus package… I mean, talk about some political game playing. What Nancy Pelosi is doing right now in her left hand lieutenant Cheri Bustos, my opponent, she is preventing support coming directly to these businesses that are desperate that need help right now. And that’s what’s important. And that’s what this is about, is bringing better representation to the Illinois 17th Congressional District.
Maxwell: You were there in that job with the state for in just a little over a year. Why’d you leave?
King: It was a decision that was, came from the, the administration. We did not agree on the methodology and some of the values that were being placed and we split ways.
Maxwell: How would you grade Governor Rauner’s time in office?
King: That’s not relevant to this election. What is important is Cheri Bustos’ time in an office. She has been in office for eight years. During her time in office, she’s only authored three bills, three bills renaming three post offices. That’s all we’ve gotten in eight years. Come on, now. We deserve better than that.
* Bustos talks campaign, COVID relief, and Trump