© 2024 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

McGraw tops Crowl in 17th Congressional District GOP primary

Joe McGraw, left, and Scott Crowl, right, are both running in the Republican primary for a shot at getting on the November ballot. Both are seeking to defeat Democratic incumbent 17th Congressional Rep. Eric Sorensen.
Joe McGraw, left, had substantial vote margins over Scott Crowl in all counties of the 17th Congressional District on March 19.

Joe McGraw won Tuesday's Republican primary in the 17th Congressional District of Illinois. The former judge from Rockford handily defeated Scott Crowl, a Milan area farmer and former union official.

McGraw had the backing of the Republican establishment, including longtime former state Rep. Dan Brady, congressman Darin LaHood from the 16th District, and New York U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, among others. McGraw also had a decided edge over Crowl in fundraising during the primary.

“I want to extend my sincerest appreciation to the voters for placing their faith in me. That said, the job is not finished yet,” said McGraw. “We will be hard at work talking to voters across IL-17 about our vision to return this district to a safe, free, and economically prosperous community – a place where people want to live, work, and raise a family.”

McGraw said his experience as a judge and prosecutor has given him the “maturity and skill” necessary to be a House member.

“My experience is as a decision-maker, making tough decisions. I’ve handled everything from a death penalty case to a child custody case and I have to listen carefully, weigh all the evidence, look at what the law requires and make a decision,” he said.

Crowl is a Henry County farmer and former AFSCME union president of a bargaining unit that covers workers at the Quad Cities International Airport.

The 17th Congressional District runs west from Bloomington-Normal to Peoria and stretches north to Rockford and the Quad Cities.

The seat is now held by first-term Democrat and former TV meteorologist Eric Sorensen, who won the seat when incumbent Democrat Cheri Bustos chose to step down two years ago.

Agricultural interests traditionally gravitate to Republican candidates, but Sorensen has spent time on ag issues and last week touted his delivery of $120 million for once-in-a-generation infrastructure upgrades along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers that will allow more goods from Illinois’ 17th District to be shipped to market, which ag groups hailed as important.

Rep. Eric Sorensen, D-Ill., will face former Judge Joe McGraw in the November election for Congress in the 17th district.
Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
AP file
First-term Democratic Rep. Eric Sorensen.

“Since beginning my first term, I’ve seen the impact that working across the aisle can have on our communities. From lowering costs and bringing tax dollars back home, to supporting our police and infrastructure, we’ve made huge progress on the issues that matter most to middle-class families. I look forward to bringing more progress home and again earning the support of the people of Illinois’ 17th District in November,” said Sorensen, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary on Tuesday.

McGraw has said the federal government should “secure the border and finish the wall." Sorensen has supported a compromise immigration measure Republicans first embraced, then walked away from earlier this year when former President Trump criticized it.

The 17th Congressional District is arguably a competitive one: Sorensen defeated Republican Esther Joy King 52% to 48%. The swing district favors Democrats more after the 2021 remap added in left-leaning parts of McLean County and subtracted much of the rural part of the state that's trended increasingly Republican in recent years.

Sabato's Crystal Ball currently rates the race "Lean Democratic," as does the Cook Political Report, another well-regarded prognosticator.

Republicans hold a narrow 219-213 majority in the U.S. House.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.