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Kinzinger’s clues so far don’t point to statewide Illinois run; would distract from anti-Trump crusade

“You can fight against the cancer in the Republican Party of lies, of conspiracy, of dishonesty, and you ultimately come to the realization that basically, it’s me, Liz Cheney and a few others that are telling the truth, said Kinzinger on ABC.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., in a video released Friday where he announced he would not seek another term.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., in a video released Friday where he announced he would not seek another term.
Kinzinger video

WASHINGTON — Leading Trump critic Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., on Sunday — two days after announcing he will not run again — said there is a “cancer” in the GOP party while jabbing Illinois Democrats who tossed him in a district with another Republican in the new remap.

Kinzinger and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., — the two Republicans on the Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol attack — and two of 10 Republicans voting to impeach now former President Donald Trump — find themselves waging a lonely battle within their party against Trumpism.

“You can fight against the cancer in the Republican Party of lies, of conspiracy, of dishonesty, and you ultimately come to the realization that basically, it’s me, Liz Cheney and a few others that are telling the truth, and there are about 190 people in the Republican Party that aren’t going to say a word,” Kinzinger said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

My takes:

KINZINGER’S CLUES regarding his future and a 2022 run for governor or senator don’t add up so far to a statewide Illinois bid.

Keep in mind it will be hard for Kinzinger to win a statewide GOP primary, given the crusade he launched in January — after the Capitol insurrection — to reclaim the party now under Trump’s control.

He’s said two things.

On Friday, in his video saying he will end his House career after finishing his 6th term, it was, “I cannot focus on both a reelection to Congress and a broader fight nationwide.”

On Sunday, in a fundraising appeal to benefit his “Country First” movement to take back the GOP party from Trump, he said, “My team can now focus its time and resources to dramatically scale Country First, rather than an all-consuming race for a single seat in a large House. This allows us to make a much bigger difference and impact.”

If Kinzinger and his team thinks it would have been an “all-consuming race” just to run for a House seat, imagine the time and money it would take to mount a statewide bid.

Running for governor, with its state-focused issues, does not seem to animate Kinzinger, so let’s rule that out for now.

The Senate is a better match.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., 53, running for a second term in 2022, had $5.77 million cash-on-hand as of Sept. 30.

She will have no significant Democratic primary, so she can save for the general election. Kinzinger as of Sept. 30 had $3.35 million in his congressional war chest and would have to budget for an expensive primary.

Kinzinger, 43, will have other shots at the Senate.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is 76 and I hope I don’t seem ageist by observing that by 2026, when he is up next, Durbin may decide to not run again.

Running for governor or senator from Illinois would be a massive distraction if Kinzinger at the same time wants to continue using the national stage he is on to take on Trump and Trumpism — especially since Trump is showing all signs of running for president again in 2024.

Parsing Kinzinger’s Sunday statement, however, leaves the door open a bit for something — but it has to be more than a “single seat in a large House.”

He also has something else being added to his plate. Kinzinger and wife Sofia are expecting their first child this January.

Kinzinger is on a mission. It is time sensitive. The time to try to erode Trump’s power is now, not later and certainly not after the 2022 elections.

REGARDING THE ILLINOIS DEMOCRATS, who threw Kinzinger into a district with another conservative Republican, Rep. Darin LaHood — well, he slammed them when Stephanopoulos asked him if he is quitting the House because Illinois Democrats “basically squeezed you out of a district.”

Illinois lost a district – going from 18 to 17 – because of reapportionment following the 2020 Census. The state Democratic mapmakers threw two pairs of Republicans in the same districts to get rid of incumbents in their quest to make a map to yield 14 Democratic and 3 GOP seats.

Said Kinzinger, “10 years ago, the Democrats in Illinois came after me,” and paired him with an incumbent Republican “and they did it again.” That’s a reference to the 2012 GOP primary where Kinzinger beat now former Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Ill.

“I’m not complaining. It’s redistricting. I get it. It’s being done and abused everywhere.

“But when Democrats do say they want, you know, Republican partners to tell the truth, and then they specifically target me, it makes you wonder.”