U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Democrat whose district includes Whiteside County, is far ahead in fundraising over her Republican rival, former Rep. Bobby Schilling.
This year’s race is a rematch in the 17th Congressional District. In 2012, Bustos ousted then-incumbent Schilling, who had served one term.
According to their campaign finance reports, Bustos of East Moline raised $1.1 million last year, more than three times Schilling’s $292,806.
The Colona Republican started his campaign in July. Friday was the deadline to file the latest reports with the Federal Election Commission.
As of Dec. 31, Bustos had $826,065 on hand, while Schilling had $271,037. In 2012, Schilling raised $2.5 million to Bustos’ $2.1 million.
According to the online newsletter Cook Political Report, the 17th Congressional District leans Democratic, but is considered competitive in this year’s mid-term election. The election will be Nov. 4.
In the 16th Congressional District, which includes Lee County, first-term Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, seems to have only token opposition in the March 18 Republican primary election from David Hale, founder of the Rockford Tea Party.
In 2013, Kinzinger pulled in $955,317, light years ahead of Hale, who raised $4,822.
In recent months, Kinzinger has attacked tea party-allied groups such as FreedomWorks for having an outsized influence in the conservative movement. Hale has criticized Kinzinger for not taking a tougher line against President Obama.
In the 17th district, Bustos sent out a news release last month touting that she had pulled in more than $1 million in 2013, but she has been reluctant to talk about how she raises money.
Many federal legislators go to party offices near the Capitol to make fundraising calls to large political contributors.
Asked in December about the number of her fundraising calls, her campaign wrote an email in reply: “The congresswoman shares the frustration of the public as it relates to campaign finance, which is why she’s backed several reform measures that would change this reality.”
Russ Choma, a spokesman for the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, said all members of Congress are pressured to raise money.
“I think most members of Congress really dislike doing it,” he said. “It’s a huge drain on their time. It’s distasteful for them to ask someone for money. … Politicians would rather talk about their positions than who it is they are asking for money.”
Politicians also have public relations staff who want them to stick to their political message, Choma said. Talking about how they raise money isn’t seen as fitting that strategy.
Kinzinger, who was elected to Congress in 2010, is in a district considered safe for Republicans.
For fundraising, it helps that Kinzinger belongs to the Energy and Commerce Committee, which typically brings members big-dollar contributions from energy companies, Choma said.
What they raised in 2013
17th Congressional District
16th Congressional District
Source: Federal Election Commission