Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., got off to a strong start in the 2014 election cycle, raising more than $200,000 in the first quarter of this year, the most for a freshman in a Quad-City district in the first three months after being elected.
Bustos, who left a job as a hospital executive to defeat freshman Republican Rep. Bobby Schilling last year, is likely to face a vigorous challenge next year. Schilling hasn't ruled out a bid, and some of his local supporters say they hope he will run again.
If there is a rematch, Bustos appears to be preparing for it. Her $204,151 total is better, by far, than what Schilling raised in the first quarter after he was elected. He raised about $80,000 for the same period. The figure also surpasses the first-quarter totals of Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, and former Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., after they were first elected in 2006.
Colin Milligan, a spokesman, said Bustos has focused her time in Congress on working for constituents but will be ready if there is a re-election fight.
"She will never take anything for granted and will be prepared for a tough challenge, but her focus each day is always standing up for the people of her district," he said.
Last month, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put Bustos in its Frontline program, an initiative that seeks to protect potentially vulnerable lawmakers.
Bustos ended the quarter with $211,864 in the bank.
She raised $87,476 from individuals and $116,675 from political action committees.
Schilling filed a report, too, but the documents say he did not raise any money in the first three months of the year.
Bustos finished toward the middle of the pack when compared with other freshman Illinois lawmakers in first quarter fundraising. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., raised $351,285, while Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., raised $222,210 and Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Ill., took in $191,396. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., raised $55,526 for the quarter.
Roll Call reported Tuesday that 22 freshmen had raised more than $250,000 in the quarter.
The reports were due by the end of the day Monday.