GALESBURG — After unseating freshman incumbent Rep. Bobby Schilling, Congresswoman-elect Cheri Bustos announced she will begin a tour of the district to learn how to best represent her new constituents.
Bustos stopped Wednesday at a Rock Island Hy-Vee to talk to voters and get a better idea of what they’d like their new congresswoman to address in her early days in Washington.
“We’re making sure we’re in a great position to govern,” Bustos told The Register-Mail. “Our goal is to get out to all parts of our district and listen to everyone we can, even those who may not have supported me;I’m here to represent everyone in the district.”
No other stops on Bustos’ “listening tour” have been announced.
Bustos, a Democrat, beat incumbent Schilling by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin, with nearly complete vote totals showing 145,013 votes for Bustos and 126,775 for Schilling.
In Galesburg, Bustos won 58 percent of the vote, or 7,070 votes to Schilling’s 4,492. Schilling carried the outlying county with 54 percent of the vote.
At her election watch party Tuesday night, Bustos said her victory could be attributed to working for the blue collar constituents she met on the campaign trail.
“We won this for the right reasons — to fight for so many people we’ve met along the way,” said Bustos, according to the Rockford Register Star. “The pace I’ve set — as your congresswoman, it won’t change.”
On the campaign trail, Bustos made a note of promising to help bridge the partisan gap in Washington. She said one of her priorities is to schedule a retreat for newly elected U.S. House representatives in order to foster better working relationships.
Bustos campaigned on a promise to responsibly balance the federal budget, and not on the backs of seniors and the middle class. She has vowed to ensure Medicare as a guaranteed benefit and said she will reduce corporate loopholes for outsourcing jobs and work to implement tax incentives for companies looking to bring manufacturing jobs back.
The newly redrawn 17th Congressional District sprawls from the Iowa state line to parts of northern and central Illinois, and was drawn to favor Democrats by an average of six percentage points. By that marker, Bustos, 50, covered the district’s spread, beating the Tea Party incumbent by six points.
According to polls released by the candidates’ campaigns, Bustos made up a significant amount of ground in both name recognition and voter favor in the 14-county district. A late May poll commissioned by the Schilling campaign showed the former East Moline Council member trailing 51-35 percent. Bustos, however, steadily made up the ground, and had about a four percent lead going into Tuesday. Certainly, the help of outside funding and third-party advertising helped garner more name recognition for Bustos, and helped her to paint Schilling as a champion of the wealthy and big industry instead of the middle class.