Kinzinger: If Illinois Democrats carve up his district in remap, he may run for Senate or governor

Democratic Party of Illinois chair Rep. Robin Kelly said when it comes to Illinois losing a district, “If we have something to say about it, I don’t think that it’ll be Adam’s seat.”

SHARE Kinzinger: If Illinois Democrats carve up his district in remap, he may run for Senate or governor
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., appears on the Chicago Sun-Times political show “At the Virtual Table.” April 15, 2021.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., on the Chicago Sun-Times political show, “At the Virtual Table.” April 15, 2021.

“At the Virtual Table”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the most prominent Republican in Illinois, said if Democrats carve up his congressional district in the pending remap, he would consider a statewide run for senator or governor in 2022.

Kinzinger made the comment Thursday on the Chicago Sun-Times political show “At the Virtual Table. On the show another guest, new Democratic Party of Illinois chairwoman Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., said freshman Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill. — not Kinzinger — should be the Democratic target if a district needs to be eliminated.

With Democrats having the upper hand in a remap and Illinois likely to lose at least one seat because of population declines, Kelly said, “If we have something to say about it, I don’t think that it’ll be Adam’s seat.”

She focused on freshman Miller, who was forced to apologize for saying “Hitler was right on one thing” at a pro-Trump rally held less than a week after she took office, sparking bipartisan condemnation.

Kelly also said she is asking the Federal Election Commission for guidance as to whether she has the authority to be in charge of the state party finances, or if she is precluded from raising and spending party money and directing employees because she holds federal office. That letter was sent to the FEC on Tuesday.

On the show, Kinzinger, in his sixth term, said his preference is to run again for the House, but as a “Republican in a very blue state,” he is not ruling anything out.

“My intention is to run again for the House. But you know, look, we’re coming up on redistricting, so if I end up without a district, of course that comes into play,” he said.

Asked to further explain, Kinzinger said if he ends up “getting drawn out of a district and you have no opportunity to run again for the House and you want to stay involved, yeah, it makes, it makes frankly looking at the Senate or the governor a little more attractive, I guess.”

Illinois will likely lose one, possibly two congressional seats in the remap that takes place every 10 years after a Census.

Illinois Democrats have multiple thumbs on the scales in crafting new district lines, since the Illinois General Assembly draws new maps and Democrats control both chambers.

There is some movement toward a “fair map” system to prevent drawing districts designed to favor one party. However, it is hard to see how, in the end, Democrats give up the substantial edge they hold and the power to pit Republican incumbents against each other.

Currently, Illinois has 18 House districts with seats held by 5 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Of the five, GOP Reps. Rodney Davis and Darin LaHood are mentioned as possible contenders for governor. No major GOP figure has surfaced to take on Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who is seeking a second term in 2022.

Kinzinger, whose meandering district is south, west and north of Chicago, has a growing national profile because he is one of the few Republicans willing to speak out against conspiracy theories and the lies told by former President Donald Trump.

He created a project, called “Country First,” to try to dilute Trump’s hold on the GOP Party and raised $1.1 million for it in the first quarter of 2021. He also took in $1.1 million in the last three months for his re-election campaign fund.

It would make sense for Democrats to take no chances and leave Kinzinger alone and — if only one seat was lost — to merge two Republican downstate districts.

Kelly prefers pitting freshman Miller against a better-known GOP incumbent.

Miller’s husband, state Rep. Chris Miller, R-Oakland, another ardent Trump supporter, has been under scrutiny because on Jan. 6 when the Capitol was being attacked by Trump backers, his pick-up truck was parked near the building, carrying the decal of a far-right, anti-government militia group.

Last month, Democrats in the Illinois House censured Chris Miller, who has denied taking part in any violence.

“I’ll say it out loud,” Kelly said. It is “unbelievable that Illinois has a person in Congress who talks about the Nazis and quotes them.”

It is “fine with me” if “her seat is no longer there,” she said.

Join “At the Virtual Table” co-hosts Laura Washington and Lynn Sweet at the next show on May 20. To see an encore presentation of the April 15 show, click HERE.

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