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Rep. Kinzinger to focus on fighting right-wing extremism, won’t run for governor or Senate

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., is a member of the Jan. 6 panel probing the Capitol attack. He earlier announced he will not seek another term in the House.

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., listens during a select committee meeting investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol at Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. 
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., listens during a select committee meeting investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol at Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 19, 2021 in Washington, D.C. 
Alex Wong/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Leading Trump critic U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who in October said he would not seek another term in the House but left open the potential of running for senator or governor, on Wednesday said he will, in his next chapter, devote himself “full time” to working against the extremism that led to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Kinzinger closed the door to a statewide Illinois run the day before the first anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, where a Trump-supporting mob tried to prevent Congress from formalizing the election of Joe Biden as president.

Kinzinger was already pushing back against the conspiracy theories taking root within elements of his Republican party when the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection occurred.

At the end of January 2021, Kinzinger, from Channahon, launched his Country First “movement” to reclaim the Republican Party from the forces leading to the Capitol riot and to provide a counter to Trump’s grip on the GOP.

In a video released Wednesday, Kinzinger said, “I’m transitioning from serving just one corner of Illinois into fighting this new nationwide mission full time.”

His spokesperson confirmed Kinzinger means he would not mount a statewide run.

Kinzinger would have had a difficult time winning a GOP primary in Illinois for any office, given that former President Donald Trump is seeking revenge against his main critics.

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 Trump because of his Jan. 6 role — now find themselves waging a lonely battle within their party against election denial and whitewashing the events surrounding Jan. 6

In his new video Kinzinger said, “Some say it’s time to move on from January 6th. But we can’t move on without addressing what happened or by pretending it never happened. We can’t move on without taking action to make sure it never happens again.

“That starts by admitting the facts. The 2020 election was not stolen.

“Joe Biden won. Donald Trump lost.

“We have to admit it, but the leadership of the Republican Party won’t. They lied to the American people. And they still are. I said last year that the Republican Party has lost its way. That’s still the case. Our so called leaders refuse to lead. They are stoking division where they should be tackling the root causes that lead to January — anger, fear and hopelessness. We need solutions to these real problems. We don’t need to pour gasoline on the fire. But that’s exactly what’s happening. And it’s getting worse.

“To this day, too many politicians have chosen lies over truth, anger over progress, fear over hope and division over unity. They think it’ll be good for their careers, but they should be asking what’s good for our country.

“If the past 12 months have taught me anything, it’s that saving America is the fight of our lives. This time last year I hoped victory would come in a matter of months. Now I see it will take years. That’s why I’m transitioning from serving just one corner of Illinois into fighting this new nationwide mission full time.”

Trump and his allies, by promising revenge, made Kinzinger’s ability to win a GOP 2022 primary in Illinois difficult no matter where Democrats in Springfield put Kinzinger in their new congressional remap. After being thrown into a district with Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., in October, Kinzinger said he would not seek another House term.

For most of 2021, Kinzinger, in his sixth term, said he may run for governor or senator if the Springfield Democrats carved up his district, which they did. Petitions to run in the June 2022 Illinois primary can start to be passed on Jan. 13. While there are multiple GOP candidates for governor, and the field may grow, there is no Republican of note running against Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who is seeking another term.