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ROCK ISLAND – A third Republican has announced he will run for the 17th Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline.
Bill Fawell, 65, of Galena, a real estate broker, formally launched his campaign Wednesday morning at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Rock Island.
Esther Joy King, 33, an East Moline real estate lawyer and small business owner, made her announcement Aug. 21. King also is an Army Reservist captain and is stationed at the Rock Island Arsenal.
Army veteran Eugene Farrell of Roseville also has filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to make a run in the 17th District.
Fawell ran against Bustos in the 2018 general election after Mark Kleine, a Galesburg businessman, dropped out of the primary. Bustos handily defeated Fawell, taking 62 percent of the vote.
In 2014, Fawell put his name on the ballot as a write-in candidate, at that time declaring himself a Libertarian. Bustos took 56 percent of the vote in knocking off Republican Bobby Schilling for a second time.
After receiving only 16 votes in that election, Fawell decided any future runs would come under the GOP label.
“I learned exactly what Ron Paul found out – if you want to make a change in government, especially in Illinois, you have to go with the two major parties,” Fawell said.
He has compared his political leanings to Paul, the former Texas congressman who ran for president once as a Libertarian, and twice as a GOP candidate.
Fawell, however, has run his campaigns as a Republican without party support. Many state and local party leaders officially broke from Fawell in 2018, citing what they considered disturbing beliefs pitched along his campaign trail and on social media. Included were Fawell’s talk of 9/11 conspiracy theories and his reference to the Newtown, Connecticut, school shootings as a possible “false flag” event.
Fawell picked up where he left off, making accusations of political corruption during Wednesday’s announcement.
“I am formally announcing my candidacy for the 17th Congressional District as a true Republican dedicated to restoring The People’s Rule over their government,” Fawell said. “I am also calling out some corrupt leadership members of the party who have censored my campaign to the Republican Party Faithful.”
Fawell introduced a “People B4 Parties” slogan, painting himself as a legitimate choice rather than a selection by the two major political parties.
“I have been censored by many of the Republican county organizations and state without right of rebuttal because they are corrupt and un-American,” Fawell said. “It is not that they fear me, no. But they fear the voters who will hear my message.”
The primary election will be March 17; the general election Nov. 3, 2020.
Illinois’ 17th Congressional District covers Carroll, Fulton, Henderson, Henry, Jo Daviess, Knox, Mercer, Rock Island, Stephenson, Warren and Whiteside counties. Parts of Peoria, Tazewell and Winnebago also are included.