Illinois Democrat Rep. Cheri Bustos stepped down as the House Democrats’ campaign chief Monday after disappointing losses for the majority caucus setting up Republicans to take back the majority in 2022.
“I want you to know that I will not seek another term as the Chair of the DCCC,” Bustos wrote in a letter to colleagues Friday obtained by Politico. “Instead, I will focus my efforts legislatively to help President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as we Build Back Better For the People.”
Bustos, a freshman representative who just barely retained her seat in the House this year, is resigning her role as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) after Republicans unexpectedly flipped eight seats for a net gain of five so far, chipping into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s majority. Republicans are on track to possibly flip several more once all remaining votes are counted, a far different result from the sizable gains Bustos and other top Democrats were publicly expecting.
According to Politico, Bustos wrote that she was “gutted at the losses we sustained,” and pledged “a transparent after-action-review to better understand why the national polling and modeling environment failed to materialize.”
Bustos barely won her own race this cycle, which I’m told was also a factor in the decision.
Some names being floated as potential replacements include Cardenas, Sanchez, Sean Patrick Maloney and Veasey.
— Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) November 9, 2020
As of this writing, Republicans are poised to take 11 seats to narrow Pelosi to a slim majority in the next Congress. Democrats were anticipating as many as three to 15 pick-ups of their own before Tuesday, a narrative that was highlighted by the Washington Post going into election day.
Politico reports that those vying for Bustos’ empty chair include Reps. Tony Cárdenas and Linda Sánchez of California, Marc Veasey of Texas, and Sean Patrick Maloney of New York.
In a leaked call with Bustos, Pelosi, and the House Democratic caucus, moderate members fumed over the party’s decision to embrace socialism and extreme calls to “Defund Police,” costing them seats once voters learned of their ultimate plans.
“No one should say ‘defund the police’ ever again,” said Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who narrowly pulled out a second term with a two-point win in the Richmond suburbs. “Nobody should be talking about socialism.”
If media projections for a Biden White House next year hold true, Democrats will be forced to reckon with the historical prospect of a wipeout in the upcoming midterms, where the party holding executive power loses an average of more than 30 House seats in the first elections to follow the new presidential inauguration.