17th District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos has announced she will retired at the end of her current term.
Bustos, who is originally from Springfield, spent a brief time in Jacksonville as an undergraduate student at Illinois College before finishing her Bachelors of Science in Political Science at the University of Maryland, College Park. She returned to Springfield and received her Masters Degree in Journalism from UIS.
In the 1980s, Bustos moved to the Quad Cities and was first elected to Congress in 2012 defeating Republican incumbent Bobby Schilling. She was the first Democrat to represent a significant portion of Peoria since 1927, and only the second Democrat since the 1850s to represent a significant portion of Rockford. Bustos, along with Senator Dick Durbin, are the only Illinois Democrats in Washington D.C. not from Chicagoland.
While in office, she has been a key member of the House Agriculture Committee. Bustos retained her seat for a fifth term in 2020. However, she resigned her post from the office of the Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee after Democrats lost over 10 seats. Politico reports that Bustos’ 17th District went overwhelmingly for former President Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020 and has begun to lean heavily more conservative in recent years. Bustos defeated Republican challenger Esther Joy King by 4 points in November. It was one of 89 races decided by 10 points or less last year.
Illinois’ 17th Congressional District covers much of northwestern Illinois and includes Carroll, Fulton, Henderson, Henry, Jo Daviess, Knox, Mercer, Rock Island, Stephenson, Warren, and Whiteside counties. Portions of Peoria, Tazewell, and Winnebago counties also lie within district boundaries.
Bustos has made no indication about her plans after her retirement. She was previously linked to a US Senate run in 2016 and Illinois Governor in 2018, but ultimately, decided not to run for those positions both times.