Eric Sorensen (D) is now the first out LGBTQ person elected to represent Illinois in Congress.
Sorensen, a Rockford native and former TV meteorologist in the Quad Cities, will represent the 17th district. The sprawling district goes from Rockford to the Quad Cities then sweeps to the southeast to take in parts of Peoria and Bloomington/Normal. The incumbent, Cheri Bustos (D), didn’t run for re-election.
In statement released Wednesday morning, Sorensen said his Republican opponent, Esther Joy King, called him to concede.
“I am honored to have been elected to serve as the next Congressman for Illinois’ 17th Congressional District,” he said in the statement. “I’ve worked to serve the people of Central and Northwest Illinois for 22 years, earning their trust by telling them the truth and helping them make the right decisions for their lives. In Congress, I will bring that same honesty to representing them and commitment to fighting for lower costs, reproductive rights, and good-paying, sustainable jobs right here at home.”
Though Bustos is a Democrat, the district has been considered a swing district with both urban areas and large rural areas.
And while Illinois has become a haven for LGBTQ in the Midwest with several LGBTQ officeholders, this is the first time that the state will send an out LGBTQ person to Congress.
“Eric shattered a rainbow ceiling and it could not come at a more important moment – when LGBTQ equality and abortion rights are on the chopping block in ever corner of the nation, including in Congress,” Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “Eric spent the last two decades keeping his local community safe by telling the truth and promoting a data-first approach to policy. His success tonight is a testament to the grassroots support he energized, as well as a highly effective ground game focused on candid conversations about how to make our government work better for all Americans.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund is a national organization that works to get LGBTQ people into elected office. The organization said that at least 1,065 out LGBTQ people ran or are running for offices with elections in 2022, the most in history.
Correction: In an earlier version, we misspelled Eric Sorensen’s first name. We regret the error.