WASHINGTON — A fundraiser for Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., will be headlined by Karl Rove and co-hosted by a who’s who of Illinois Republicans, a show of political strength coming as ex-President Donald Trump vows revenge against GOP House members who voted to impeach him.
The co-hosts — there are more than 150 on the invitation obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times — include two high-ranking Trump appointees from Illinois: Ron Gidwitz, Trump’s former ambassador to Belgium and acting ambassador to the European Union, and Barbara Stewart, the ex-chief executive officer of AmeriCorps.
Kinzinger is one of 10 Republicans to vote with House Democrats to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as Congress was taking the final steps to validate Joe Biden’s presidential election.
Kinzinger has emerged as a national leader of the non-Trump wing of the Republican Party because of his willingness to denounce conspiracy theories and Trump’s embrace of the lie that he won the election. He was also one of 11 Republicans to vote with Democrats to strip freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., from committees for her embrace of QAnon conspiracy theories and threats to harm Democrats.
Trump’s demands for unyielding loyalty have sparked a civil war within the party between Trump Republicans and those who want to move on.
The March 31 virtual event featuring Rove — a veteran GOP strategist, top adviser to ex-President George W. Bush and a Fox News contributor — is for Kinzinger’s election fund, Kinzinger for Congress.
As of Dec. 31, according to Federal Election Commission records, the cash on hand balance in that fund is $1.5 million, a formidable running start for his next campaign.
Kinzinger is using another political war chest, his Future First Leadership PAC, to bolster his “Country First” drive to build a movement to diminish Trump’s grip on the Republican Party.
When the 2020 Census figures are announced, it is expected Illinois will lose at least one — possibly two — of the current 18 congressional seats. Kinzinger at present represents the sprawling 16th District, covering parts of 14 counties west, north and south of Chicago.
So far, the main GOP challenger to Kinzinger for his House seat is Catalina Lauf, a Trump loyalist who worked in his administration. She recently traveled to Trump’s Florida home at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Lauf told the Sun-Times in a text she was there to “discuss how I will help move President Trump’s America First agenda forward.”
While 11 of Kinzinger’s relatives signed two letters blasting him for his impeachment vote, the March 31 co-hosts include Kinzinger’s parents, Jodi and Rus Kinzinger, and his brother, Nate.
The list of top Illinois GOP donors co-hosting the Kinzinger funder include John Canning and his wife, Rita; Craig Duchossois and his wife, Janet; Susan Crown and her husband, William Kunkler; David Herro; Michael Keiser; Barry MacLean; John Rowe; and Muneer Satter.
The co-hosts also include Mark Denzler, president & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association; International Union Of Operating Engineers Local 150 PAC; Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce; Grundy County GOP Chair Aren Hansen; former Sen. Mark Kirk; and state Sen. Sue Rezin, whose legislative district turf overlaps on some of Kinzinger’s congressional district.
Trump launched an attack on Rove this month, after Rove, in his Wall Street Journal column, criticized Trump’s speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference. Trump, in a statement from his “Save America” PAC, called Rove “a pompous fool.”
That 16th District will not exist in its present form after the congressional district remap. While Kinzinger has not announced his plans for 2022, this March 31 fundraiser will help him preserve his options — whether he seeks another term or decides on a Senate or governor run. The contribution levels run from $250 to $11,600.
Kinzinger, a member of the Air National Guard — he was on duty last week — is seen as more interested in Congress rather than a challenge to Gov. J.B. Pritzker in 2022. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., is running for a second term and so far has no significant GOP challenger.
Fundraising disclosures for the first quarter ending March 31 will be public in mid-April.