POLITICS

Esther Joy King concedes to Democrat Eric Sorensen in heated Illinois US House race

Rockford native Eric Sorensen promises democracy, abortion rights

Jeff Kolkey
Rockford Register Star
Rockford native and former WREX-13 meteorologist Eric Sorensen is a Democrat running for Congress in the 17th Congressional District.

Former TV weatherman and Rockford native Eric Sorensen declared victory early Wednesday morning over East Moline attorney Esther Joy King in Illinois’ 17th Congressional District race.

Sorensen said King phoned him to concede.

“From day one, we said this campaign was about electing a representative who was known and trusted. It was about protecting our democracy and securing reproductive rights,” Sorensen said in a statement. “It was about making sure that our incredible communities are sustainable for generations to come. I am honored to be the congressman-elect for Illinois’ 17th Congressional District.”

The Associated Press has not yet called the race.

Sorensen, a Democrat, is leading King by about 7,500 votes. With 88% of the estimated votes counted, Sorensen is ahead 114,210 to 106,693 votes, according to unofficial election results.

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Sorensen campaigned with the slogan of “Forecasting a Bright Future for Illinois,” promising to fight for lower prescription drug costs, protecting abortion rights and to improve the economy by positioning Illinois to be a major supplier for electric vehicle production.

Sorensen said he would honor the legacies of “Congresswoman Cheri Bustos and the late, great Congressman Lane Evans,” in the 17th District.

King, 35, of East Moline, nearly unseated U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, in 2020, who is retiring from politics after seven terms. Sorensen defeated a crowded field of candidates to win the Democratic primary in June. She’s worked as an attorney at King and Clark since 2019. She is a U.S. Army Reserve, JAG Officer, as well.

Sorensen offered praise for his opponent despite their differences.

"I thank her for running, and while we disagreed on the issues, we both have a passion for service," Sorensen said in the statement.

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Sorensen, 46, lives in Moline. He’s worked as a meteorologist from 1999-2021. His latest stint was as senior meteorologist at WQAD ABC 8. Sorensen was born and raised in Rockford, and his partner was raised in Rockton. 

Some say the tight race could be a key for Democrats trying to hold on to a slim majority in Congress.

"Our communities are stronger when we work together, neighbor by neighbor — I look forward to advocating on behalf of the people of Central and Northwest Illinois in Congress and making sure that they have a seat at the table," Sorensen said in the statement. "And I look forward to continuing to be a good neighbor."

A Rockford Register Star reporter since 2005, Jeff Kolkey writes about city government, politics, trends in the Rockford region and more. He is a Rockford resident, a married father of two and a White Sox fan. He can be reached at  (815) 987-1374, via email at jkolkey@rrstar.com and on Twitter @jeffkolkey.