February 08, 2023


Campaign notebook: Democrats in 17th U.S. House race discuss women’s choice at forum

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Candidate forum

Abortion and the war in Ukraine were the lead discussion points when the six Democratic candidates in primary contention in the 17th District U.S. House race met Tuesday in a forum orchestrated by WCBU in Peoria.

The event reflected that day’s breaking news: that a leaked draft opinion indicated the Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

The six candidates were unanimous in their support of women’s choice.

Litesa Wallace, a former state representative and co-founder of the Rockford Anti-Racism Network, broached the subject in her opening statement then elaborated on her legislative efforts in Springfield to turn Illinois from a “safe haven” to a “fortress” for women’s reproductive rights.

Marsha Williams, activist and trade school admissions adviser, shared her personal story of having to “beg for my life in a conservative hospital” to have a medically necessary abortion.

Jackie McGowan, a former stockbroker and lobbyist, said the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “meant they were coming for our reproductive rights.”

Angie Normoyle, a Rock Island County board member and Augustana College assistant professor, said she fears this will lead to the criminalization of health care.

Eric Sorensen, a former TV meteorologist, called it a “direct attack on women” and expressed, as a gay man, that it portends ill for marriage equality and transgender rights.

Jonathan Loegemann, a high school teacher and Rockford alderman, said it was important that 17th district voters have a candidate that is 100 percent pro choice.

All of the candidates expressed support for the Biden Administration’s handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Logemann, who is an Illinois National Guard captain, said it was important to step up energy assistance to Germany to lessen its dependence on Russia, a point that Normoyle echoed. Wallace said it is a chance to create green energy in the district. Williams said the U.S. should step up humanitarian efforts.

Asked to prioritize their agenda as candidates, Logemann said it was for Democrats to win local in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the capital, Normoyle said infrastructure investment to sustain union jobs, Sorenson said making the district part of the solution when it comes to climate change, McGowan and Wallace both said women’s reproductive rights, while Williams said it was jobs training and free education at the trade school and community college level.

74th district finances

The financial reports filed by the two Republican primary candidates running in the to-be vacated 74th District statehouse seat show Dixon Mayor Li Arellano Jr. with nearly twice as much cash on hand as Bradley J. Fritts.

Arellano’s quarterly report showed $21,406.55 available cash at the end of March. Fritts’ report of contributions showed $11,500, $10,000 of which he loaned himself.

Arellano received $12,750 in individual contributions, including $5,000 from a Dixon business. The campaign also received a $5,000 transfer from Friends of Win Stoller, the campaign arm of the 37th District state senator now running against Brett Nicklaus of Dixon.

Arellano has spent a little more than $6,000 with Four Winds Consulting out of Villa Park and $300 for the Dixon Elks Lodge, where he held a campaign fundraiser back on April 23. The campaign’s balance sheet also shows debts and obligations to himself of $15,368.42.

Mike Pence at Lincoln Day Dinner

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, primary candidate for the reconfigured 16th District, announced that former Vice President Mike Pence would be the keynote speaker for the June 20 Lincoln Day Dinner sponsored by the Peoria and Tazewell County Republican Central Committees.

The event is billed as one of the largest events in Illinois Republican politics. Featured speakers in the past have been U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

In the announcement, Pence said: “President Biden and Governor Pritzker’s radical left agenda are leading Illinois and America down a path of decay and decline. … With conservative leaders like Darin LaHood and Esther Joy King in Congress, we can restore American energy independence, reestablish strong American leadership, and revive the economy that was the strongest in American history during the Trump-Pence administration. I look forward to joining Peoria and Tazewell conservatives to discuss our shared vision for the future of Illinois.”

No mention was made of LaHood’s opponents in the Republican primary – Walt Peters of Rockford, JoAnne Guilemette of Rockford and Michael Rebesh of Minooka – nor of King’s primary opponent in the 17th District – Charles Helmich Jr. of East Moline.

LaHood is the financial chairman for the National Republican Campaign Committee, which raises money for the party’s U.S. House candidates. In 2020, LaHood was a co-chairman for the Trump-Pence campaign.

Before serving as vice president, Pence was governor of Indiana and served in the U.S. House.

Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for Saukvalley.com and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.