U.S. Rep. Mike Bost was all smiles last week as President Trump announced 25 percent tariffs on imported steel. U.S. Steel immediately announced 500 jobs would return this month to the Granite City Works.
So the Republican in his second term rose to chair the congressional steel caucus. He delivered the trade sanction the companies sought for years. He had facetime with President Trump and was on cable news.
So did steelworkers embrace him for putting them back to work? Did they offer their support to his re-election campaign?
Union. Republican. Right.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
The United Steelworkers union is backing Bost's likely challenger, St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly.
"Mike Bost voted to allow bad trade deals that hurt American workers. He betrayed us," said USW District 7 Director Mike Millsap. "The USW will never forget that."
Or remember who helped put them back to work?
Maybe not publicly. Maybe in the privacy of the voting booth, though, just like blue collar supported Trump on the sly.
Kelly was on the sidelines, trying to be less partisan than the USW about the blame for steel's woes.
"For 20 years, steelworkers have been laid off and abandoned and our national security weakened because politicians from both parties have been more concerned about stock prices than people," Kelly said. "Steelworkers forged Southern Illinois. It's time to fire it up, and get our brothers and sisters back to work. With USW's support, the Kelly Coalition is now as strong as American steel."
He kinda lost us on the link between blame and cheering for the jobs and then how his campaign got as strong as steel out of all this, but OK.
The 12th Congressional District that Bost represents went from "likely Republican" last year to a toss up with a small Republican bent currently. Bost said he's not worried, and if he's meant to follow another path then that's God's will.
But he seemed pretty focused on the path back to Washington. The National Republican Congressional Committee sees the vulnerability and added Bost to the Patriot Program, which tries to preserve incumbents with cash.
The money and the politics are about to get interesting, but Bost definitely won early March. We'll see about November.