WASHINGTON — GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger on Thursday shrugging off for now whether Illinois Democrats will obliterate his district in the remap — since there is nothing he can do about it — said he was “frightened” over the turn culture-war politics has taken in this Trump era.
In a call with Illinois reporters, Kinzinger commented on the state of his crusade to break the grip ex-President Donald Trump has on the Republican Party, his latest thoughts on his political future, what the GOP in Illinois needs to do and his work to preserve nuclear power in Illinois.
Kinzinger’s 16th District, which runs west, north and south of Chicago, is the home of four nuclear plants — Byron, Dresden, Braidwood and LaSalle. That’s the most nuclear facilities in any congressional district in the nation.
Kinzinger, you likely know, gained a big national profile after he voted for Trump’s second impeachment and started his “Country First” movement to battle against the conspiracies and lies Trump is pushing about the election being stolen from him. He is the best known Illinois Republican.
ON ACCELERATING CULTURE WARS
Kinzinger said over the past few months, the culture wars have been “accelerating.” And he’s “frightened.”
“There was always kind of a professionalism behind the scenes, you know the most liberal Democrat and I can be friends, right, even though I’m a conservative.
“But I started to notice in people’s conversation, this anger, this, this fight over the culture war, really infect people day to day.
“That’s when I started to get frightened because, you know, it’s one thing every time we’re on TV or every time we’re having a debate or if you have a debate on radio, it’s gonna seem like there’s conflict.”
Behind the scenes, though, “we got along. That’s changed....And, man, I wish I knew how to fix it. All I can say is telling the truth is the start.”
ON THE REMAP
Illinois will lose one congressional seat in the remap. The Illinois Democrats who control the General Assembly in Springfield will draw new districts. They put off mapmaking until later this year, when late arriving Census figures are available.
In the meantime, David Wasserman, the House editor for the Cook Political Report, has, based on his reporting and using mapping software, created a sample map that reflects the political goals of the Illinois Democrats. Wasserman’s Illinois hypothetical map — it’s on his Twitter feed, @Redistrict — dissolves Kinzinger’s district.
Kinzinger said he has no “idea” what Democrats may do. “I’m not freaking out about anything. I’m living my life, raising money, focusing on what needs to get done now. And we will, you know, confront that when that gets here.”
Kinzinger said his preference is to run again for the House. I previously reported that he said he will look at a Senate or governor run if there is no viable district for him. Even if Democratic mappers create a district that looks good or good enough for Kinzinger, he will get a primary challenge from a Trump Republican.
BRING BACK THE BIG TENT
Asked about the Republican Party in Illinois, Kinzinger said, “When you’re a Republican, you need to have a big tent. I mean we need Republicans that are pro-choice. We need Republicans that don’t stand ‘right’ on the Second Amendment.”
Kinzinger, who noted his conservative credentials, said there are many Republicans in Illinois – not part of the political party establishment — “trying to push me out.”
If Kinzinger is rejected for “telling the truth about what happened” (in the election and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol) then “there is 0.0% chance that we can ever do anything positive in Illinois, or ever take power.”
“…You have to play the long game here, and the long game is, we need to be a big tent party, not just in the country but particularly in Illinois. I think the challenges are huge. And I’ll continue to speak out and, you know, let the party voters — not the party loudmouths, or the party infrastructure — the voters make that decision. They deserve to hear the truth.”
ON ILLINOIS NUCLEAR PLANTS
Preserving the Illinois nuclear industry is a priority for Kinzinger, given the four plants in his district. “It’s a very important issue ... We’ve been working day and night on trying to do what we can from the federal level.”