TIME

THE MIDDLE ROAD

The Democrats’ path back to power runs through the heartland
Bustos works the phone at her office on Capitol Hill in May 2017

CHERI BUSTOS SHOWS HER OPPONENTS no mercy. Even in Skee-Ball.

The hypercompetitive three-term Congresswoman from northwest Illinois is walking with a fellow Democrat at a union picnic in the Cincinnati area when she spots the arcade game. “Aftab,” she calls to Aftab Pureval, a former prosecutor who is looking to unseat an 11-term Republican in this southwest corner of Ohio. “How are you at Skee-Ball?” Soon both are shoving tokens into the machine. But as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s chair of heartland engagement, Bustos is a professional multitasker. Between turns she talks about the bigger competition she’s focused on now: helping House Democrats win a bloc of seats that stretches from Omaha to the Philadelphia suburbs.

Democrats have struggled in these working-class districts in recent years, but Bustos has ideas for how to win them back. First, don’t lead with the controversial issues that are popular with the party’s fringe. High-cost, pie-in-the-sky proposals for a guaranteed universal wage and single-payer health care can be toxic with voters who think government is already doing too much, and little of it well. “You don’t go into

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from TIME

TIME2 min read
Novel November reads
FOR THOSE SEEKING RELIEF FROM THE POLITICAL FRENZY THAT IS A MIDTERM November, look no further than a bookshelf full of escapist new reads covering everything from murderous sisters to creepy resorts and the science of dreaming. NINE PERFECT STRANGE
TIME5 min readPolitics
When Leadership Fails
George Washington understood the stakes. “As the first of everything,” Washington wrote, whatever he did, substantially as well as stylistically, would “serve to establish a precedent.” In 1790, the first full year of Washington’s presidency, John Ad
TIME3 min read
The Rise Of Right-wing Terrorism
ONE IRONY OF THE TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE killings is that Jews have never been more accepted. A Pew Research Center poll last year found that Americans feel more warmly toward Jews than any other religious group. It’s clear we are a long, long way fro