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Democrat Eric Sorensen and Republican Esther Joy King win in 17th Congressional District

Democrat Eric Sorensen, left, and Republican Esther Joy King.
Democrat Eric Sorensen and Republican Esther Joy King.

Eric Sorensen, a Democrat and former meteorologist from Rockford, will take on Republican lawyer Esther Joy King from East Moline in the 17th Congressional District in November. That district includes parts of Bloomington-Normal and Greater Peoria.

Both candidates are vying to hold a seat in the newly-redrawn district that will vacated by Democrat Cheri Bustos, who announced in 2021 that she would not seek a sixth term in Congress.

With about 73% of all votes counted nearly three hours after the polls closed, Sorensen beat out five other Democratic hopefuls with about 36% of all votes. The former WREX chief meteorologist was more than 3,500 votes ahead of former state Rep. Litesa Wallace, the candidate with the second-most votes in the Democratic primary.

Sorensen touted his name recognition throughout the northern part of the sprawling district, as he not only worked as a meteorologist in Rockford, but also in the Quad Cities. Climate change and LGBTQ+ issues have been hallmarks of his campaign.

Sorensen's campaign did not immediately answer requests for comment from WGLT, but in a Facebook statement, he said voters "agree we need more science and less politics in their next representative."

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Patrick Maloney said in a congratulatory statement he expects Sorensen will carry on "Bustos' strong legacy of delivering for hard-working Illinois families." The DCCC is a political committee that supports Democratic candidates running for seats in the House of Representatives.

Sorensen will take on King, who handily won the Republican primary against a little-known challenger, Charles Helmick.

King is a lawyer who practices in East Moline. She owns her own marketing firm and serves in the military in U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.

This will be King's second appearance on the ballot during the general election: In 2020, she was within 4 percentage points of ousting Bustos from the seat, eventually losing 52% to 48%.

King told WCBU in Peoria last May that winning 48% of the vote galvanized her to run a second time. In a post-win interview Tuesday night, King echoed that sentiment.

"All that momentum is still right with us — even more so in 2022," King said. "We have a gut instinct that we deserve better than we are getting from our government right now, at the state level, at the national level. People are fired up — they are ready for change, they are ready for something better. I'm so thankful to get to be a part of it."

The 17th District includes parts of Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, Macomb, the Quad Cities, Rockford, and most of the northwest corner of the state.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race a toss-up in November in a political climate that, so far, appears favorable to Republicans, although the district was drawn by Illinois Democrats to lean slightly blue.

Lyndsay Jones is a reporter at WGLT. She joined the station in 2021. You can reach her at lljone3@ilstu.edu.