WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, won’t seek that party leadership post again, amid a disappointing performance for House Democrats during last week’s election.
Bustos, who has chaired House Democrats’ campaign arm since 2019, has been under fire from some members of her own party who are angry that they were unable to expand their House majority. While Democrats are expected to retain control of the House, they will have a slimmer majority than the past two years, despite outraising Republican rivals in many races.
The DCCC spent aggressively in GOP-held districts around the country in hopes of making the Democratic majority in the Houseeven larger, but failed to do so.
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Both parties and nonpartisan political analysts expected Democrats to pad the size of this year’s majority by perhaps 15 seats. While they are on track to retain House control, seven Democratic incumbents were defeated and they’d ousted no Republican representatives, leaving it all but certain they will have a narrower hold on the chamber.
Even before Bustos’ announcement, several Democrats said privately that she would have little support to retain her post, which is an elective position chosen by House Democrats. Her tenure included clashes with progressives angry that she moved to protect incumbents — including conservative Democrats — by denying contracts to political consulting firms that helped challengers in party primaries.
In a written statement, Bustos said her committee had achieved its “primary objective” of keeping House control. She said that with President-elect Joe Biden in the White House, she would focus on “exciting legislative possibilities in the years to come.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bustos “shaped a mainstream message, mobilized effectively and attracted the resources to do so” and called her “a leader of great integrity and inspiration.”
Bustos, 59, a four-term lawmaker, narrowly won her own reelection in a closely divided rural district she won by 24 percentage points two years ago. Her win came after an eleventh-hour $1 million expenditure for her by the House Majority PAC, which was resented by some Democrats. That committee is aligned with House Democratic leaders.
By Monday afternoon, Democrats’ only gains were three GOP-held, open districts from which Republican lawmakers are retiring.
House Democrats currently have a 232-197 advantage, plus one independent and five vacancies.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)