As part of News is Out’s Election 2022 coverage, we are looking at races all over the country and sharing campaigns of key LGBTQ+ candidates.
Name: Eric Sorensen
Office: U.S. House Illinois District 17
Bio: Sorensen lives in Moline with his partner, Shawn, and two dogs. Sorensen, a longtime TV meteorologist endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund, is vying for the seat being vacated by Democratic U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, who announced her retirement in April 2021.
According to his Victory Fund bio, Sorensen came out while attending Northern Illinois University and received support from his friends and family. After graduating college, he moved south to Texas for his first television job—and experienced discrimination first-hand. In Rockford, Illinois, he was able to be out on television.
He will face Republican Esther Joy King, who previously lost to Bustos 52% to 48% in 2020.
Opponent: King has military and legal aspects to her background, having worked as a lawyer and JAG officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. Her parents were missionaries on the United States-Mexico border in Juarez.
After earning a marketing degree in college, King spent time in Kabul, Afghanistan serving as an aid worker for women’s rights. She also studied law at Northwestern School of Law, where she earned a JD and masters of law in taxation. She began her legal career as an associate at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago and later had the opportunity to serve the State of Illinois in the Office of Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Technology. She now practices law in East Moline, Illinois.
Most important issues in the race: Among Sorensen’s concerns/issues are securing reproductive rights, creating sustainable jobs, strengthening healthcare, addressing climate change, investing in schools and preventing the next pandemic.
King lists several issues/priorities on her campaign website, including immigration, the national debt, the right to life (with her saying “I am also pro-women’s rights, especially the rights of female babies who are still in the womb”), the Second Amendment, the state of Israel and education.
The significance or historic first if Sorensen wins: Sorensen, if he wins, will be the first out LGBTQ+ Congressman from Illinois. (Controversial former Republican U.S. Aaron Schock didn’t come out until 2020, after he resigned from Congress.)
What the campaign is like on the ground: Sorensen and King have debated. The Quad-City Times noted that Sorensen said people deserved a nominee who was born and raised in the district—someone they could trust who would have their best interests at heart. King claimed that her background of service would go a long way in representing constituents in D.C. They also differed regarding term limits for U.S. Supreme Court justices: Sorensen is in favor of them while King called the country’s current system “brilliant.”