The Republican candidates in the race for the open 17th District U.S. House seat are Esther Joy King and Charlie Helmick.
The seat was last in Republican hands when Quad Cities businessman Bobby Schilling served from 2011-13 after defeating incumbent Democrat Phil Hare in the 2010 race.
King is an East Moline lawyer with degrees from Northwestern School of Law and is a member of the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps. Helmick is a U.S. Marine veteran, was a manager with FedEx, and owns with his wife a Country Financial Office in Silvis.
Information about the candidates political stances were primarily gained from their published campaign materials. Shaw Media did not receive answers to questionnaires sent to the campaigns early in the election season.
Both candidates have run before.
King was the Republican nominee in the 2020 race for the 17th District. In the general election, Democratic incumbent Cheri Bustos won 156,011 to 143,863 with 52% of the vote. Helmick had been a primary candidate that year, but withdrew.
Bustos announced last year she was not seeking another term, having served since 2013.
King’s top issue for the district is ensuring free and fair trade. “Expanding access to emerging markets is crucial for creating opportunities for U.S. manufacturers, farmers and service providers to sell more American-made goods and services around the world,” her issue position paper states.
King promises to fight to control government spending, supports “sensible” environmental policies for agriculture and promotes a framework that allows innovation and manufacturing to prosper within the district.
On immigration King speaks to her own experiences growing up on the border of El Paso, Texas and Juarez Mexico, including that of an in-law waiting in line three years to secure legal entry into the U.S., where he is now a business owner. She advocates for new immigration laws that protect Americans while providing a legal path to citizenship for those willing to comply with the rules.
King said bipartisan cooperation is essential to advance the needs of the district, which “come first, before party, before politics, before special interests.”
On key conservative issues, King writes she is “unapologetically pro-life” while also advocating for expansion of access for other critical women’s health care services at Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics and she is committed to the Second Amendment right to bear arms while seeking a “holistic approach” to criminal violence.
Helmick describes himself as a Donald J. Trump Republican. He believes “it is a right for an American to defend his or her family with a weapon that he has a right to own.” He advocates for free speech “not to be censored by big tech social media companies.”
He proclaims “America is on the brink of collapse” and says the nation is corrupted by socialist ideas and blames Democrats for a financial crisis.
Helmick’s top listed issues are related to having a strong national defense: rebuilding the military, projecting military presence globally and bringing defense company contractors to the district.
Helmick’s district priorities are advocating for seniors by supporting a voucher system so they gain access to more affordable pharmaceuticals and health care. He wants to address homelessness among veterans by providing them with jobs, homes and better care through the Veterans Administration. He also wants single parents to have access to daycare vouchers “to give them a shot at having a job.”
Helmick writes that renewable energy, such as electric vehicles, is a ploy to “rob Illinois farmers from producing ethanol for fuel.”