A Peoria native left the Biden administration to run for Congress from Illinois. Here’s why – Peoria Journal Star

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Nikki Budzinski is a Democratic candidate for Congress from Springfield.

Nikki Budzinski worked her way to the top rungs of the public-service ladder. The Peoria native held an executive-level position in the administration of President Joe Biden.

But after only about six months, Budzinski resigned as chief of staff of the federal Office of Management and Budget. She left Washington, D.C., and moved to Springfield, to explore running for political office for the first time.

Seems like a counterintuitive move for a one-time labor activist and senior adviser to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker. It also seems a little risky to declare a candidacy without knowing the geographic boundaries of that political district.

But Budzinski believes the risks these days to some central and southern Illinoisans are too great to ignore.

Previously:Peorian Nikki Budzinski prepares for role in Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration

Last week, Budzinski made official her plans to run in the 2022 Democratic primary for the 13th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rodney Davis, a Republican from Taylorville, has held that office since 2013.

During an interview Monday with the Journal Star, Budzinski said Davis hasn’t done enough in Congress to support middle-class families.

Among other things, Budzinski said Davis has voted against increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and against a federal tax credit for families with children.

“I felt like Rodney Davis isn’t doing enough to support working families in the area, and I could do a better job,” Budzinski said.

‘I’ve always gone back to Peoria throughout my life’

The 44-year-old Budzinski considers herself a product of such an upbringing.

Until she was 5, she resided in Peoria with her parents, Ron and Cheryl Budzinski. They lived in Florida and Virginia while Budzinski was a child but returned to the Peoria area in 1995, when she enrolled at the University of Illinois.

“I’ve always gone back to Peoria throughout my life,” Budzinski said.

Cheryl Budzinski has been active in local politics. She served on the Peoria County Board and was president of the League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria.

Nikki Budzinski said she gained inspiration from her parents and her Peoria-based grandparents. Among them was her grandfather Leonard Budzinski, who was a union painter for Peoria Public Schools.

“They were people of modest means,” Nikki Budzinski said about her grandparents. “They didn’t have a checkbook. They didn’t have a credit card. The money they took out of the bank was what they had to spend that week. 

“I learned to be hard-working, humble and to be happy with a modest lifestyle. They taught me the value of hard work and the dignity that is in work, too.”

Biden’s tie to Peoria:Joe Biden visited Peoria in 2010; those who saw him still remember his speaking talent and personal touch

Among other jobs, Budzinski was national political director for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. She also worked on Pritzker’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign before she joined the Pritzker administration.

13th District might change shape in new map

The 13th District under Davis’ tenure has stretched from the Mississippi River to Champaign-Urbana. It includes Decatur and portions of Bloomington-Normal, Springfield and the Metro East area near St. Louis.

It’s considered a swing district with a slight Republican lean, according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index.

Davis won his first election, in 2012, by about 1,000 votes and won in 2018 by about 2,000 votes. But he won by comfortable margins in 2014, 2016 and 2020.

Redistricting following the 2020 U.S. census is taking place. Illinois is to lose one of its 18 congressional seats. It isn’t yet known which seat will be eliminated or how the remaining districts will look or be numbered.

That uncertainty doesn’t appear to matter to Budzinski.

“I wanted to start building this campaign immediately,” she said. “I want to build a strong, broad coalition to beat Rodney Davis, and I think I can start doing that right now, even not necessarily knowing where the lines are going to be.”

It’s possible Davis might not run again in that district, depending on the new map.

Also:Is Peoria’s influence in state politics at risk with new legislative map? Some are concerned

Democrats in Springfield control redistricting. There’s been speculation they could draw a new district that connects in narrow bands the most Democratic areas of the current 13th. Heavily Democratic Metro East areas also might be included.

Davis’ hometown might end up in the district of U.S. Rep. Mike Bost or U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, both Republicans. Davis could run against one of them in a primary or run in the new version of the 13th, but he also has suggested he might challenge Pritzker next year.

“No matter who my opponent will be, I will be talking about the issues that impact and support working families in central Illinois,” Budzinski said. “That will not change, no matter who my opponent is.”

One other candidate has announced a 13th District Democratic run — Champaign resident David Palmer, an insurance broker and former University of Iowa basketball player.

Other members of Congress from Illinois who have links to Peoria include U.S. Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Hoffman Estates, who was raised here and is a graduate of Richwoods High School; and Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, who is a Bradley University alumna and a member of the school’s board of trustees.

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, represents the 18th District, which includes most of the city north of War Memorial Drive.

Nick in the Morning

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via “Illinois Politics” – Google News https://ift.tt/2TO8iP3

August 31, 2021 at 05:10AM

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