Political newcomers hope to fill Illinois 17th Congressional seat

Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 1:28 PM EST

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives is playing out at Illinois ballot boxes.

Democrat incumbent Rep. Cheri Bustos announced her retirement from Congress 18 months ago.

Bustos’ announcement launched what’s turned into an important fight happening in Northwest Illinois between Republican Esther Joy King and Democrat Eric Sorensen.

“This is one of the few ones that’s a race worth watching,” said Prof. Brian Gaines of the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

Gaines says it’s hard to predict who will win Illinois 17th Congressional district.

“I think it’s a seat either party can win,” said Gaines.

As a result of a statewide population lost of roughly 80,000 people in the 2020 Census, Illinois downsized from 18 to 17 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Democrats redrew the map, and they drew a pretty aggressive map, in the sense that they’re trying to win 14 seats out of the 17,” said Gaines.

The redrawn lines also mean new voters are now making up the 17th district.

“The numbers don’t mean much, but this seat is sort of like a seat that was slightly Republican before and now it’s slightly Democratic,” said Gaines.

Gaines says, in a year where voters believe Republicans are taking back the House, that could be a slight boost for King who nearly won against Bustos two years ago.