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17th Congressional Democratic candidates struggling to attain name recognition, new poll shows

Emily Bollinger
Democratic candidates for the Illinois 17th congressional district face off at a candidates' forum co-hosted by WCBU, WGLT, and other partners at Bradley University on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

Democratic primary candidates in the 17th Congressional District are struggling to gain recognition from their party's base as they vie for the nomination.

That's the main takeaway from a poll of likely IL-17 Democratic primary voters conducted by Triton Polling and Research on May 2-5.

The automatic telephone poll of 522 likely Democratic primary voters in the newly redrawn 17th Congressional District shows most haven't heard of the six candidates running to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos in the hotly-contested district.

"Never heard of them" was the most common response for all six candidates when pollsters asked for voter impressions of Jonathan Logemann, Jacqueline McGowan, Angie Normoyle, Eric Sorensen, Litesa Wallace, and Marsha Williams.

Eric Sorensen, a former TV meteorologist in the Rockford and Quad Cities markets, touted the most name recognition of the six candidates, followed by former state Rep. Litesa Wallace of Rockford.

41.5% of likely Democratic primary voters polled said they don't know who they would vote for if the election were held today. 22.1% responded in favor of Wallace, and 18.6% in favor of Sorensen. None of the other four candidates broke double digits.

Democratic candidates are lagging far behind presumed IL-17 Republican candidate Esther Joy King on fundraising totals ahead of the primary. As of March 31, King had nearly $1.5 million cash on hand in her campaign account, compared to $188,462 for Sorensen and $38,396 for Wallace.

The new 17th Congressional District was drawn by Illinois Democrats to lean slightly blue, but the Cook Political Report rates the race a toss-up in a political climate so far appearing favorable to Republicans this fall.

The district stretches from Rockford and the Quad Cities down through Kewanee, Galesburg, Macomb, Peoria, and Bloomington-Normal.

The poll was commissioned by Wallace's campaign. It had error margin of plus or minus 4.3%.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.