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Cheri Bustos Keeps Door Open to Senate Run

Bustos is a Democrat from Illinois. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Cheri Bustos said she is not closing the door on running for Senate in Illinois in 2016, marking the third House Democrat to express some level of interest in one of the cycle's top race targets.  

"I'm focusing on my district, focusing on what we hope to accomplish in the coming term," Bustos said in a Tuesday morning interview with CQ Roll Call in her Longworth office. "And like anything in politics, you don't close the door to anything and you keep an open mind, and I think you've got to weigh what's good for your district, what's good for your state and what's good on a personal level. So for right now, what I would tell you is that I guess that's kind of the long and short of it: I don't close the door on anything, but I'm squarely focused on the 17th Congressional District of Illinois."  

Bustos' comments come one day after her fellow two-term Illinois House colleague, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, confirmed she is mulling a bid against Sen. Mark S. Kirk, one of the most vulnerable GOP Senators up for re-election in 2016.  

Democrats have indicated they plan to target Kirk's seat as a pick-up opportunity. The party must net five seats to ensure they take Senate control in 2016.  

Kirk is adamant he will seek a second term in his state, which voted for President Barack Obama by a 17-point margin in 2012. The Illinos Senate race is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.  

Bustos, who won re-election in her Quad Cities-based district last cycle by a 10-point margin, skirted the issue of whether Duckworth's decision will impact her own decision on the race.  

"Tammy's my friend," Bustos said. "She's a good public servant, she's in Congress for the right reasons, she wants to help people, she has a passion, especially on veterans issues, and I think she's done a superb job in that area. And yes we have talked, we talk regularly, and again I think it's one of those things where in time all of this will shake out, and she's got a lot to consider as does Bill Foster, I know he's considering this, and I think time will take care of however this ends up shaking out."  

Bustos added she does not have a timeline for deciding on the race.  

"My grandfather was a state representative; my dad was a chief of staff for a senator and worked in politics for a long time, and we just always believed if you do a good job the future will take care of things, and if you do a bad job the future takes care of things also," Bustos said.  

In the meantime, Bustos is currently helping the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recruit candidates  for top races in 2016. She said she speaks with the DCCC weekly on the recruitment front, where she hopes to find strong women to run for office.  

The DCCC's first recruitment trip for the cycle was to the Land of Lincoln to scout candidates to challenge GOP Reps. Mike Bost and Rodney Davis. Additionally, Bustos said she's spoken to former Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill.,  about a rematch with the Republican who defeated him, Rep. Robert Dold, in the 10th District.  Related: Tammy Duckworth: I’m ‘Taking a Real Serious Look’ at Senate Run Senate Race Ratings from the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call 10 Races to Watch in 2016: Illinois Senate Congressman Mum on Illinois Senate Race Kirk Backs Murthy, Defies NRA House Democratic Losses Deplete Bench of 2016 Senate Recruits The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.