Nikki Budzinski worked her way to the top rungs of the public-service ladder. The Peoria native held an executive-level position in the administration of President Joe Biden.
But after only about six months, Budzinski resigned as chief of staff of the federal Office of Management and Budget. She left Washington, D.C., and moved to Springfield, to explore running for political office for the first time.
Seems like a counterintuitive move for a one-time labor activist and senior adviser to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker. It also seems a little risky to declare a candidacy without knowing the geographic boundaries of that political district.
But Budzinski believes the risks these days to some central and southern Illinoisans are too great to ignore.
Last week, Budzinski made official her plans to run in the 2022 Democratic primary for the 13th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rodney Davis, a Republican from Taylorville, has held that office since 2013.
During an interview Monday with the Journal Star, Budzinski said Davis hasn’t done enough in Congress to support middle-class families.
Among other things, Budzinski said Davis has voted against increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and against a federal tax credit for families with children.
“I felt like Rodney Davis isn’t doing enough to support working families in the area, and I could do a better job,” Budzinski said.
‘I’ve always gone back to Peoria throughout my life’
The 44-year-old Budzinski considers herself a product of such an upbringing.
Until she was 5, she resided in Peoria with her parents, Ron and Cheryl Budzinski. They lived in Florida and Virginia while Budzinski was a child but returned to the Peoria area in 1995, when she enrolled at the University of Illinois.