EXCLUSIVE: Nikki Haley Endorses JAG Reservist In One Of The Most Competitive House Races

(John Lamparski/Getty Images) (YouTube/WCIA News)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is endorsing Republican Illinois congressional candidate Esther Joy King in a congressional district that Republicans are looking to flip for the first time in a decade.

King, a lawyer in the Judge Advocate General Corps, is the Republican nominee in Illinois’ open 17th District. She previously ran for the same seat in 2020, losing to Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos by four points, and is also endorsed by House Republican Conference chairwoman Elise Stefanik. Bustos, the former chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is one of 36 House Democrats to retire or resign during the 117th Congress.

“Esther’s love of God and country has fueled her life of public service. She’s a JAG Officer who isn’t afraid to buck the establishment and will fight to protect our kids, veterans, and farmers. Taking back the House means winning in Illinois, and Esther is the kind of leader we want in our corner,” Haley said in a statement to the Daily Caller. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Nikki Haley To Endorse Retired Navy SEAL In Key House Race)

Bustos was first elected to Congress in 2012, defeating one-term Republican Rep. Bobby Schilling. She currently represents one of seven House districts that elected a Democrat in 2020 but also supported President Donald Trump. Redistricting will swing the 17th District nine points to the left, according to FiveThirtyEight, although most handicappers still consider it a toss-up.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) (C) speaks during a press conference with other Mayor’s and House of Representative members calling on US President Donald Trump and Congress to end the shutdown in Washington, DC on January 24, 2019. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

“Ambassador Haley understands more than almost anyone that when America is leading, the world is a better place and I’m so grateful to have her on my side in this fight. This election is the choice between Americans boldly succeeding or barely surviving. Our Southern border is being overrun by drug cartels, the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal left Americans behind while emboldening our enemies, and right now, too many people in the 17th District are forced to choose between filling their gas tank or filling their grocery cart. We deserve better than the out-of-touch leaders we have in Washington and I’m working hard to change that because this district is worth the fight,” King told the Daily Caller.

Haley has endorsed 40 candidates in the 2021-22 election cycle through her political action committee, Stand for America PAC. Stand for America PAC has raised more than $11.3 million during the 2021-22 election cycle, Federal Election Commission records show, and has nearly $3.5 million on hand.