Monday, November 26, 2018

Moderate who stresses party's need to appeal to rural areas is running to head House Democrats' campaign committee

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos of northwest Illinois, who is running for chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, "is the only one of about 18 leadership candidates who doesn’t represent a district along one of the coasts. She is one of only two contenders representing a district won by [President] Trump. And she’s probably the only member of Democratic leadership whose go-to road food while campaigning is an indulgent, heart-clogging ButterBurger from Midwestern fast-food chain Culver’s," reports Jennifer Haberkorn of the Los Angeles Times.

Rep. Cheri Bustos (Photo from CQ Roll Call)
"Her pitch to Democrats of all stripes is that the party’s majority is fragile," Haberkorn writes. "If its political pendulum swings too far to the left in next two years or Democrats are seen as coastal elites, they risk losing in those moderate districts, especially when Trump himself is on the ballot, she said." Or, in her own words, “We don’t hang on to that majority by having a Democratic message that is viewed as extreme in rural America or in the heartland.”

Bustos, 57, has been singing that tune to her Democratic colleagues for some time, and to a group of rural newspaper editors who responded to an invitation during the 2017 conference of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors in the Washington, D.C., area. She is a former reporter for the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa.

"Moderate Democrats such as Bustos will likely be pivotal to the party’s success in 2020," Haberkorn writes. "The Democratic presidential candidate will have to appeal to their voters to have any shot of denying Trump a second term."

Others in the race are "another Democrat who won in a Trump district, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, as well as two Democrats from Washington state, Reps. Dennis Heck and Suzan DelBene," Haberkorn reports. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is running for speaker, "has not put her thumb on the scale in the DCCC contest. But Bustos said Pelosi 'has personally said to me and many others' that she wants to see a woman in the job."

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