17th District support comes from rival camps

Thursday was contrarian day in the race for the 17th Congressional District: GOP incumbent Bobby Schilling was endorsed by a usually pro-Democratic union, while his Democratic opponent, Cheri Bustos, won the approval of a Republican politician.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 is backing the Colona congressman because of his “strong support for the working and middle class and his independent voting record,” James M. Sweeney, the union’s president and business manager, said in a news release.

Former Peoria Mayor Lowell “Bud” Grieves, a Republican, says Bustos is the woman for the job.

“We simply have to send people to Congress that are willing and able to compromise to reach solutions on our most pressing problems,” Grieves said in a letter sent to local newspapers.

The IUOE, which tends to endorse Democrats, also has endorsed President Barack Obama and state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline.

Schilling is a small business owner who served more than 13 years in a union. He was a union steward in the Local 191 United Paperworkers International Union and a treasurer for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the release said. 

“When the trend among extremists in his party has been to attack workers time and time again, Bobby Schilling stood up and supported prevailing wage laws that protect the middle class, and he did it on every single vote that came up,” Sweeney said in the release.

“Even though it was not a popular stance with some of the party leaders, Schilling knew it was the right choice for working men and women in his district, and this type of courageous leadership is what we need in Washington.”

“I’m grateful to receive the endorsement of the IUOE Local 150,” Schilling said in the release. “Look, jobs aren’t a Democrat or a Republican issue – they’re a red, white, and blue issue. I’ve worked across the aisle to fight for jobs in the Illinois 17th District, and I’ll continue to do that when elected to a second term on Nov. 6.”

In his letter, Grieves cites Bustos’ bipartisanship.

“While I do not agree with the entire Democratic platform, we simply have to send people to Congress that are willing and able to compromise to reach solutions on our most pressing problems,” he wrote.

I have met and talked to Cheri, and she has assured me she will work hard to find bipartisan solutions – particularly on a way forward to reduce our debt. I have not met Congressman Schilling, and I’m sure he is a good man, trying to do a good job, but he has a severe handicap.

“Caught up in the Tea Party ideology, he along with many Republicans have put ideology over results and contributed to the gridlock that now paralyzes our government,” Grieves wrote.

“I am pleased to have the support of Mayor Grieves and common sense Republicans, Democrats and Independents across western Illinois,” Bustos said in a news release.

“We have to end the gridlock in Congress and elect representatives who will stand up for what’s right and put people before politics. We need to change Washington’s priorities, and I am running to do just that.”

Grieves, Peoria’s mayor from 1997 to 2001, also owns Mark Twain Hotel.