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Local

Schilling wants to reclaim seat

Bustos 'taking necessary steps' for campaign

When he lost his congressional seat in November, Bobby Schilling blamed his loss on redistricting.

The district's boundaries haven't changed since, and they won't for at least another decade. But Schilling, R-Colona, has decided to give Washington another try.

Schilling, 49, has announced that he will run for his old 17th Congressional District seat in 2014. The district includes Whiteside County.

In 2010, Schilling, a tea party favorite, beat incumbent Phil Hare for a seat long held by Democrats.

A year later, though, the state Legislature redrew the district's boundaries to make it more Democrat-friendly.

It worked. In 2012, former East Moline Alderwoman Cheri Bustos defeated Schilling with 53 percent of the vote in the district and in Whiteside County.

After the loss, Schilling said he would return to work at his business, 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 a statement.

In a post-election interview, his son and campaign manager, Terry Schilling, said 8,000 people who voted for Republican Mitt Romney in Rock Island County crossed party lines to support Schilling.

He said at the time that redistricting was responsible for "100 percent" of the outcome.

Before, the district was 57 percent Democrats, Schilling's son said, and now it's 60 percent.

"Cheri won by 53 percent of the vote ... take away 3 percent, changed outcome."

Bustos' representatives wouldn't take questions about Schilling's campaign Monday, only releasing a one-sentence statement.

"Congresswoman Bustos is focused like a laser on job creation, protecting Medicare and Social Security, and serving the people of Illinois' 17th Congressional District, not an election that is over a year away," the statement read.

Asked whether Bustos, 51, has held fundraisers so far this year, her spokesman, Colin Milligan, said she has been "taking the necessary steps to wage the campaign."

In the last campaign, Bustos raised $2.2 million to Schilling's $2.5 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Incumbents usually have a fundraising advantage with their campaign war chests big enough to ward off potential challengers.

Schilling will speak today in Sterling.

The other announced candidate for the Republican nomination is Eric Reyes, a Rock Island attorney who started as a Democrat in the 2012 race but ended up filing as an independent.

To attend

Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, will announce his campaign for Congress at 3 p.m. today at Grandon Civic Center on East Fourth Street in downtown Sterling.

For more information, call Jon Schweppe at 309-749-9007.

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