Kris Tharp sworn in as state senator


He replaces Rachelle Crowe in office and on the ballot

Illinois Correspondent

CHIEF JUDGE BILL MUDGE swears in Tharp while Jaime Tharp holds the Bible.

The 56th Senate District in southwestern Illinois has a new state senator and candidate for the November election – Madison County Sheriff’s Department Captain Kristopher Tharp, the successor to Rachelle Aud Crowe.

Chief Judge Bill Mudge of the 3rd Judicial Circuit swore in Tharp July 8 at Laborers Local 338 Hall in Wood River. Tharp’s wife Jaime held the Bible, and his two adult sons were present.

“I’m truly honored and humbled by this entire experience,” Tharp said. “We have a lot of important issues to explore this year and I’m eager to serve the residents of the 56th District in this new role.”

Tharp (D-Bethalto) is a captain and jail administrator with nearly 25 years of law enforcement experience as both investigator and crisis negotiator. He worked up through the ranks, serving as deputy commander for the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis and graduating from the FBI National Academy.

Tharp is a longtime member of Local 118 of the Police Benevolent Protection Association. His wife is a union probation officer and son Tyler is a police officer in Wood River.

Born and raised by a single mother in Wood River, Tharp said he understood the life of working families and remembered the sacrifices his mother made, and her “fighter mentality.”

“Everything I’ve had in my life I’ve had to work for,” he said. “I know what lean times are. I’m going to fight for you and for our district.”

Tharp founded Madison County Triad in 2018, a partnership between the sheriff’s department and area service providers and seniors to improve the safety and quality of life for senior citizens.

He has worked with Crowe and three county sheriffs on their political campaigns. Crowe was a prosecutor before she was a state senator, and Tharp said when it was time for her to run, he was there to help because he believed in her. “When she became our senator, she said, ‘Are you willing to come a little bit further?’” he said.

So Tharp worked with Crowe on the Illinois Elder Abuse Task Force and on legislation relating to law enforcement culture. During the primary season, he spoke often about his wish to continue serving the 56th District after Crowe was confirmed as the U.S. Attorney for the metro-east region.

“I’m a fighter, and I’ll fight for this district,” he said.

Upon Crowe’s resignation, a committee of Democratic Party leaders chose him as her interim successor. He will serve out the remainder of Crowe’s term until the new General Assembly is sworn in on Jan. 11, 2023.

“There is no replacing Rachelle Crowe, but I hope to continue her legacy,” he said.

The Democratic committee has until July 25 to announce a nominee on the November ballot. Petition-signing events are already being announced on social media to support Tharp’s bid. He is expected to face Erica Conway-Harriss (R-Glen Carbon) in November.

The 56th District includes all or parts of Alton, Caseyville, East Alton, Bethalto, Collinsville, Edwardsville, Fairview Heights, Glen Carbon, Maryville, Granite City, O’Fallon, Roxana and Wood River.


  1. I received a flyer to vote for this man and nowhere on the flyer did it mention party affiliation No thank You I’ll pass on this guy


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