STERLING – The day after U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling lost his 17th District seat, his son and campaign manager Terry Schilling attributed the defeat to one factor – redistricting.
The Colona Republican lost Tuesday to former East Moline Alderwoman Cheri Bustos, a Democrat.
The 17th was redrawn by a Democratic Legislature and favored Democrats. Bustos took 53 percent of the vote, Schilling 47 percent.
Redistricting was responsible “100 percent” for the outcome, Terry Schilling said.
Before, the district was 57 percent Democrats, he said, and now it’s 60 percent.
“Cheri won by 53 percent of the vote ... take away 3 percent, changed outcome.”
Name recognition also was a problem, he said.
“It’s a 50 percent brand-new district. Fifty percent never heard of [Bobby Schilling] before, didn’t have the relationship.”
Bustos spokesman Arden Manning did not return a call Wednesday afternoon seeking comment.
The campaign worked “really hard” in new parts of the district, especially Peoria and Rockford, Terry Schilling said.
Bustos won Peoria County with 18,986 votes to Schilling’s 10,588 votes; she won Winnebago County with 19,393 votes to Schilling’s 10,618, according to The Associated Press.
The Schilling campaign also focused on Rock Island County, which it knew was a Democratic district, he said. Bustos beat Schilling by 7,000 votes there.
“Mitt Romney lost by 15,000, [meaning] 8,000 crossed party lines for Bobby in Rock Island alone,” Terry said.
Terry said Rockford was the “finishing touch, primarily because we focused a lot on the manufacturing sector, probably not enough on community organizations.”
“In Rockford, a lot of people [were] going to the polls to vote Obama and went straight Democratic all the way down.”
His dad has not yet decided whether he will make another political run, Schilling said, adding that it will be a family decision.
In the meantime, Bobby Schilling released a statement Wednesday saying he soon will return to work at Saint Giuseppe’s Heavenly Pizza in Moline.
“I always said that the best part of not being a career politician is that I can always go back to my business, and I look forward to getting back to making the best pizza the Quad Cities has to offer,” he said in the statement.
Looking forward, Terry said his father will work with Bustos to “make sure there is a smooth transition.”
“We did everything possible we could have done,” he said. “It’s just redistricting that had everything to do with it.”
County by county results
Here's a look at unofficial returns county by county in the 17th Congressional District race:
• Carroll County: Schilling 56%, Bustos 44%
• Fulton County: Bustos 51%, Schilling 49%
• Henderson County: Schilling 52%, Bustos 48%
• Henry County: Schilling 56%, Bustos 44%
• Jo Daviess County: Schilling 55%, Bustos 45%
• Knox County: Bustos 53%, Schilling 47%
• Mercer County: Schilling 53%, Bustos 47%
• Peoria County: Bustos 64%, Schilling 36%
• Rock Island County: Bustos 55%, Schilling 45%
• Stephenson County: Schilling 57%, Bustos 43%
• Tazewell County: Bustos 51%, Schilling 49%
• Warren County: Schilling 54%, Bustos 46%
• Whiteside County: Bustos 53%, Schilling 47%
• Winnebago County: Bustos 65%, Schilling 35%
TOTAL: Bustos 53%, Schilling 47%
Source: The Associated Press