Cheri Bustos

Spring 2023
Visiting Fellow
Cheri Bustos Headshot

Cheri Bustos has never lost an election. Seven straight. Two for City Council. Five for Congress. And in one of the toughest swing districts in America. She even won by the largest majority of any Democrat in a Trump District. 

She believes to her core in coming together, compromise and bipartisanship — while staying true to key values. She sees it as the only way forward. 

Cheri pioneered her own highly successful candidate training program called Build the Bench. As a former college athlete, she knows a great team has a great bench. That’s the premise: build a bench of great candidates up and down the ballot for years to come. 

She is the co-author of two reports, focusing on successful political strategies and messaging: Hope from the Heartland and How to Win.  

The former Congresswoman became known in Congress for her innovative communication style that included an outreach program called Cheri on Shift, where she job shadowed hardworking men and women. She worked 120 separate jobs — from processing Mississippi River fish to changing street lights from a 30-foot tall cherry picker. 

Cheri was a journalist for almost two decades. An investigative reporter and editor, who began on the police beat, covered city hall, business and healthcare, she would win many awards for her in-depth reporting. 

She went on to lead corporate communications for a multi-billion dollar nonprofit health system before running for Congress, where she served in House leadership for most of her career. 

Disclaimer: This information is accurate for the time period that this person was affiliated with the Institute of Politics.