One of the House’s top Democrats has been forced to step down from a high-profile leadership role after the party suffered humiliating losses during last week’s elections.
According to the Washington Examiner, Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) has announced that she will not be seeking a second term as chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the primary campaign arm of House Democrats.
The move comes after Democrats suffered a series of blistering defeats last Tuesday that left them with the narrowest majority in the House in decades.
Bustos, for her part, indicated in a statement issued Monday that she’s stepping aside to focus on her own constituents — a move that seems necessary if she wants to keep her seat to 2022. According to The New York Times, the congresswoman won this year by a slim margin of just over 10,000 votes in Illinois’ 17th District, which covers the largely rural northwest portion of the state.
Bustos calls it quits
“I took on the challenge of leading the DCCC with the goal of protecting our Democratic House Majority, so we’d be in position to work with a new Democratic President to get our country back on track,” Bustos said in her Monday statement announcing her decision, according to the Examiner. “That was goal No. 1 and — by bringing the fight to Republican-held districts while fortifying the majority — we accomplished that primary objective.”
Bustos went on to praise her team for their hard work and dedication, and insisted that the DCCC had paved the way for Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s media-declared victory.
If certified, Biden’s win would mark the first time in roughly a decade that Democrats have held control of the House and the White House at the same time.
“After four years of this administration’s chaos and broken promises, there is now no limit to what we can achieve as we work to Build Back Better for the communities we serve,” Bustos said, according to the Examiner. “That is why, rather than seek a second term as Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, I will instead focus my work on exciting legislative possibilities in the years to come.”
A “blue wave” that never came
In a letter to her Democrat colleagues in the House, Bustos acknowledged that she was “gutted at the losses we sustained” — nearly a dozen in the lower chamber, according to Politico — and promised that there would soon be a “transparent after-action-review to better understand why the national polling and modeling environment failed to materialize — not just for House races, but also up and down the ballot from the presidential to Senate and state legislative races.”
Thus far, the general consensus seems to be blaming a failure in messaging for the losses. Either way, however, the polls predicting a “blue wave” were decidedly incorrect — a development that, according to Roll Call, left Bustos “furious.”
“Our polls, Senate polls, [governors] polls, presidential polls, Republican polls, public polls, turnout modeling, and prognosticators all pointed to one political environment — that environment never materialized,” she complained on a caucus call in the aftermath of the elections, as Roll Call reported.
According to Politico, names that have been floated to replace Bustos as head of the DCCC include California Reps. Tony Cárdenas and Linda Sánchez, Texas Rep. Marc Veasey, and New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.