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Ten and done, says midwestern Democrat in House

Approaching her 60th birthday, Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, announced she will retire in 2022 after 10 years in the House. “It will be a new decade and I feel it’s time for a new voice,” said Bustos. Her decision also reflected the shrinking influence of the farm and industrial heartland in the House.

Only one member of House Democratic leadership is from the Midwest or Northeast. Due to slower population growth, those states would account for five of the seven House seats that the Census Bureau says will shift to the Sun Belt and the West in the upcoming reapportionment ahead of the 2022 congressional elections. Political handicappers say Republicans could pick up two to four seats as a result of redistricting, endangering the House majority now held by Democrats.

Bustos headed the campaign committee for House Democrats, a job that can serve as a step up the ladder of party leadership, in the 2020 elections, when Democrats expected to expand their majority. Instead, they lost 13 seats. Bustos, who counseled Democrats to run on bread-and-butter issues, resigned as campaign chair in the aftermath. She won re-election in her western Illinois district by 4 percentage points, compared to a 24-point romp two years earlier.

By coincidence, Bustos announced her retirement just days after the Census Bureau said Illinois would lose one seat in reapportionment. Kyle Kondik, an editor at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, said the Democrat-controlled state Legislature in Illinois probably would eliminate a Republican seat. The current congressional delegation is 13 Democrats and five Republicans, all from downstate districts. Two of them, Rodney Davis and Mary Miller, are on the House Agriculture Committee, like Bustos.

In a video, Bustos said her motivation “has always been to serve our community” and that each decade in her life she’s “taken time to reflect on how I can best serve. That’s how, 10 years ago, I decided to run for Congress and it’s why today I am announcing I will not seek re-election after completing this term.”

According to the Census Bureau, California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia each will lose one House seat. Texas would gain two seats. Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon would have one additional U.S. representative. Since 1960, the Midwest has lost 30 House seats and the Northeast has lost 32 seats.

To watch a video of Bustos’ announcement, click here.

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