Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2012, 1st term.

Born: October 17, 1961, Springfield

Home: East Moline

Education: Illinois College; University of Maryland, B.S., 1983; University of Illinois (Springfield), M.A., 1985

Professional Career: Vice president, Iowa Health Systems, 2008-12; senior director, Trinity Regional Health System, 2002-08; reporter, Quad City Times, 1985-2002.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Catholic

Family: Married (Gerry Bustos) , 3 children

Democrat Cheri Bustos in 2012 took advantage of her roots in Illinois politics—her father was a former chief of staff for Democratic Sen. Alan Dixon—and the district’s Democratic leanings to unseat Rep. Bobby Schilling, who had ridden the Republican wave to victory in 2010.

Bustos grew up in the state capital of Springfield. Her mother was a social worker and preschool teacher, and her father was a journalist before entering government. Her first paid job was selling tacos and lemonade at the Illinois State Fair. As a 10-year-old, she met future Democratic Sens. Paul Simon and Dick Durbin, who at the time was a staffer for then-Lt. Gov. Simon. After attending Illinois College, where she excelled at basketball and volleyball, Bustos graduated from the University of Maryland in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and history. She earned a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Illinois two years later, and moved to the Quad Cities metro area to take a job as a reporter with the Quad-City Times, where she covered city government, crime, health care, and other issues over a 17-year career. Her husband, Gerry, is a captain in the Rock Island Police Department and commander of the Quad City Bomb Squad.

After leaving journalism, Bustos went into public relations for regional health care providers, most recently as the vice president of public relations and communications for Iowa Health System. Health-related issues are a key concern for her: She lost her uninsured sister-in-law to cancer two years ago, and her brother to cancer months later, after his insurance refused to cover the medication he needed. President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, she told National Journal, is “at least in the right direction,” but Bustos insists that more has to be done to improve what she calls a “broken” system.

She got into politics with a run for the City Council in East Moline, and served from 2007 to 2011. She emphasized economic development, founding and chairing the East Moline Downtown Revitalization Committee.

As the 2012 election approached, Democrats were eager to reclaim the 17th District House seat from freshman Republican Schilling, and redrew the district lines after the 2010 census to make it more Democratic. When Bustos entered the race, her friendship with Durbin paid off—he provided a rare primary endorsement in January 2012 and urged other Democrats to exit the race. She went on to win the primary over two other candidates with 54% of the vote.

Her race in the fall against pizzeria owner Schilling became one of the biggest in Illinois outside the Chicago area, with about $1 million pumped in from the Democratic and Republican congressional campaign committees. Bustos received an early endorsement from abortion rights group EMILY’s List and was backed by several labor unions. Schilling aligned himself with tea party activists, speaking at National Tea Party Express events.

The race was negative. Bustos called her opponent “extreme” on abortion rights and suggested he didn’t care about women’s health. Meanwhile, national Republicans ran an ad accusing her of voting to spend $625,000 on improvements to the road “connecting her street to her local country club.” The ad was debunked—repairs began before Bustos served on the council, and she simply joined other members in approving the project’s second phase. In addition, she never belonged to the country club. She won, 53% to 47%.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5905

(202) 225-5396

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1009
Washington, DC 20515-1317

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5905

(202) 225-5396

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1009
Washington, DC 20515-1317

DISTRICT OFFICE

(309) 786-3406

(309) 786-3720

2401 Fourth Avenue
Rock Island, IL 61201-8022

DISTRICT OFFICE

(309) 786-3406

(309) 786-3720

2401 Fourth Avenue
Rock Island, IL 61201-8022

DISTRICT OFFICE

(309) 966-1813

3100 North Knoxville Avenue Suite 205
Peoria, IL 61603-1047

DISTRICT OFFICE

(309) 966-1813

3100 North Knoxville Avenue Suite 205
Peoria, IL 61603-1047

DISTRICT OFFICE

(815) 968-8011

119 North Church Street Suite 207
Rockford, IL 61101-1034

DISTRICT OFFICE

(815) 968-8011

119 North Church Street Suite 207
Rockford, IL 61101-1034

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

1050 - 17th Street, NW Suite 590
Washington, DC 20036

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

1050 - 17th Street, NW Suite 590
Washington, DC 20036

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Steffanie Bezruki
Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Lyron Blum-Evitts
Legislative Director

Animal Rights

Lyron Blum-Evitts
Legislative Director

Appropriations

Lyron Blum-Evitts
Legislative Director

Arts

Alex Hadley
Legislative Assistant

Disaster

Steffanie Bezruki
Legislative Assistant

Environment

Lyron Blum-Evitts
Legislative Director

Foreign

Lyron Blum-Evitts
Legislative Director

Alex Hadley
Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Lyron Blum-Evitts
Legislative Director

Homeland Security

Steffanie Bezruki
Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Steffanie Bezruki
Legislative Assistant

Intelligence

Steffanie Bezruki
Legislative Assistant

Labor

Lyron Blum-Evitts
Legislative Director

Military

Alex Hadley
Legislative Assistant

Native Americans

Lyron Blum-Evitts
Legislative Director

Social Security

Lyron Blum-Evitts
Legislative Director

Telecommunications

Alex Hadley
Legislative Assistant

Trade

Alex Hadley
Legislative Assistant

Transportation

Alexandra Fields
Legislative Assistant

Veterans

Steffanie Bezruki
Legislative Assistant

Welfare

Steffanie Bezruki
Legislative Assistant

Women

Alex Hadley
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Cheri Bustos
Votes: 153,519
Percent: 53.28%
Bobby Schilling
Votes: 134,623
Percent: 46.72%
2012 PRIMARY
Cheri Bustos
Votes: 18,652
Percent: 54.4%
George Gaulrapp
Votes: 8,838
Percent: 25.78%
Greg Aguilar
Votes: 6,798
Percent: 19.83%

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