Six-term Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an ardent opponent of former President Donald Trump and his continued leadership of the GOP, announced Friday he would not seek reelection.
Kinzinger’s announcement came just hours after state legislators passed a new congressional map drawn by Illinois Democrats that put him into a new district with Trump-supporting U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood.
“As a country, we must unplug from the mistruths we’ve been fed. In Congress, I’ve witnessed how division is heavily rooted. There’s little to no desire to bridge our differences,” Kinzinger said in a video posted on Twitter. “And unity is no longer a word we use. It has also become increasingly obvious to me that in order to break the narrative. I cannot focus on both a reelection to Congress and a broader fight nationwide.”
“This isn’t the end of my political future, but the beginning. Serving six terms in Congress, has been an honor of a lifetime,” the Republican from Channahon said.
Kinzinger, one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and one of two GOP members on the House select committee investigating the insurrection, indicated he would be focusing on his One Country political action committee, which is aimed at supporting opponents of the former president.
In the past, Kinzinger had indicated no desire to run for statewide office if ruling Democrats in the Illinois legislature drew a politically adverse district for him. But he said his decision to leave Congress did not mean an end to his political involvement through his PAC.
“There’s many Americans that are desperately searching for a better way. They want solutions. Not more problems. They want action, not extremism. They want light, not darkness. And the sooner we do it, the better it will be for the land that we love,” Kinzinger said. “Now is the time for choosing. Now is the time to work together to be part of the solution.”
Kinzinger was elected to the House in 2010, getting support from tea party groups in defeating Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson of Crete. His victory thrust him into rising-star status in the national Republican Party establishment. A U.S. Air Force veteran with missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, he is a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard.
Though he voted with the Trump administration’s policies 92% of the time, he became a sharp critic of the former president as Trump geared up for reelection and openly called out his Republican colleagues for backing him, including party leadership.
In July, Kinzinger used an expletive when asked about House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s threat to strip him of committee assignments for joining the Jan. 6 panel.
“Who gives a s—?” Kinzinger said to reporters. “When you’ve got people that say crazy stuff and you’re not gonna make that threat (to them, but) to make the threat (to) the truth tellers, you’ve lost, you know, any credibility.”
But it was clear Kinzinger was increasingly becoming a pariah in his own party. With legislative redistricting following the 2020 federal census and Illinois’ loss of one U.S. House seat, Kinzinger’s congressional future had remained uncertain.
Early on Friday morning, the Democratic controlled Illinois legislature approved new congressional boundaries that put Kinzinger into a district with the four-term LaHood of Peoria.
The sprawling district runs from the Wisconsin border south, stretches around the Democratic-leaning urban cities of Rockford, Peoria and Bloomington, and then goes northeast to Morris. The district includes some of the state’s most Republican — and Trump supportive — areas.
Shortly after Kinzinger’s announcement that he wouldn’t run, LaHood, who is the national finance chair of the National Republican Campaign Committee, issued a statement announcing his bid for reelection.
In his announcement, Kinzinger recalled telling voters in his first campaign in 2010 “that if I ever thought it was time to move on from Congress, I would, and that time is now.”
“But let me be clear: My passion for this country has only grown. My desire to make a difference is bigger than it’s ever been,” he said. “The battlefield must be broader and the truth needs to reach the American people across the whole country.”
©2021 Chicago Tribune. Visit chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.