“Why I am running: For two decades I was your weatherman…keeping you safe by telling the truth, informing, and educating…Because telling you how the weather impacted your jobs, schools, weekends, and yes, sometimes your lives, I earned your trust through thousands of broadcasts bringing you the daily weather and important updates about ‘once in a century’ storms.
“To me, being a meteorologist has always been about protecting our neighbors and our communities, values I learned from my family at an early age.” (Campaign website)
Following his primary victory in June over five other Democratic challengers, Sorensen noted: “in a moment where we are recovering from a global pandemic, seeing the rollback of reproductive rights, increasing gun violence, and painful inflation, it’s clear that we need more science and less partisan bickering," (Rockland Registrar Star, 6/28/22)
BACKGROUND + EXPERIENCE
Sorensen was born in Rockford, Illinois and earned a bachelor's degree from Northern Illinois University in 1998. He experienced workplace discrimination early in his professional career as a television personality in Texas. He overcame early challenges as a gay professional working as a successful on-air meteorologist for over two decades.
Reflecting on his first job in Texas, Sorensen notes, “… I was called into my bosses’ office with a copy of my contract sitting on the desk and the ‘moral clause’ highlighted. I was told that I couldn’t be gay and work there.
“My experiences in Rockford and the Quad Cities were quite different — I was able to be out on TV! … I took a more active role in our LGBTQ community — serving on the boards of Clock, Inc. and The Project of the Quad Cities, initiatives that aim to connect vulnerable individuals to health services.” (Campaign website)
ON THE ISSUES
Sorensen has a strong commitment to science-based climate policy, LGBTQ+ issues and more. Key issues include:
Climate change is real and serious. Now is the time to act, and we need an experienced climate communicator to lead.
Everyone has the right to be well, and that means receiving care that doesn’t cause financial jeopardy.
We need to make sure schools and teachers have the resources they need to provide a fair, accessible, and quality education for the next generation.
Sustainable jobs: It is our responsibility to support future generations of Illinoisans by creating economic opportunities in our communities.
Prevent the next pandemic: The federal government should take an active role in investing in preparation measures, including technical, medical, and community responses.
Sorensen’s opponent is Joy King, a lawyer from East Moline, IL. She owns a marketing firm and serves in the military in the Army Reserve Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. The 17th district is “open” since incumber Democrat Cheri Boustos decided not to seek a 76h term. King lost to Boustos in 2020 by 52% to 48 %. Both Cook and Sabato rate this race Toss-up. While the political environment appears favorable to Republicans, the district was drawn by Illinois Democrats to lean slightly blue. This and Sorensen’s name recognition, public visibility, and issue positions make this a competitive race.