U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos is moving up in the political world, both literally and figuratively.
The fourth-term Democrat who represents Freeport had the seniority to move out of her first-floor office in the Longworth House Office Building last week and end up two levels higher.
During a phone interview last week, the one-time newspaper reporter walked over to the window and strained for a moment to see if, from any angle, she had a view of the Capitol dome.
“I guess I have to be out here a few more years,” she cracked, poking a little fun at the perks in seniority-obsessed Washington.
Bustos also has lately moved up the political ladder, being chosen by her colleagues to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The last time a House member from central Illinois landed a similar gig was when Bob Michel began his ascent into leadership, holding the same post for the GOP in the early 1970s.
She’s already gotten some ink from national columnist George Will for her skill in winning — by increasing margins each election, “owning” rather than “renting” — a district that also voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump.
She’s done so, in part, by listening to constituents regardless of party, and by showing some of the partisan independence we’ve come to expect from our better lawmakers. Indeed, only 23 House Democrats voted with the president’s priorities more often than she, at 36.8 percent of the time according to FiveThirtyEight.com.
This new job is a position with national visibility, likely with plenty of appearances on the Sunday morning shows and newspaper and TV interviews aplenty in the coming election cycle for Bustos — introducing the rest of the country to our region through her statements.
This will take a tremendous dedication of time and energy, as will the related travel, fundraising and campaign work.
Michel got the political scare of his life a few years after entering leadership, amid a 1982 campaign in poor economic times during which complaints surfaced he wasn’t paying enough attention to the needs of folks back home.
Bustos seems cognizant of that history.
“My first job is to make sure I represent the 711,000 people in the 17th Congressional District of Illinois. That’s job No. 1,” she said. That comes with a pledge to continue her regular schedule of district events — appearances, roundtables, visits with constituents in the supermarket, and the like — despite what will doubtless be a more vigorous DCCC travel schedule.
Residents of the district will take heart at those promises — and hold her to them.
The Freeport area likes its leaders to succeed and to make names for themselves. But it also likes them to stay grounded, to remember where they came from, and to stay independent.
We have every reason to cheer her newfound prominence, so long as we still see our representative regularly around the district, and so long as the more stridently partisan position she holds doesn’t prevent her from finding success in legislating across the aisle and bringing Republican co-sponsors aboard for each of her bills.
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Region: Northern,Feeds,City: Freeport,Editorial,Region: Rockford,Opinion
via Our View – Journal Standard http://bit.ly/2Fo7nyr
January 12, 2019 at 08:09AM