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US Rep. Adam Kinzinger says he’ll focus on GOP anti-Trump movement rather than run for statewide office

Retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger said in a video Wednesday that he will forego a bid for U.S. Senate or Illinois governor to focus on the fight against former President Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP.

“This time last year I hoped victory would come in a matter of months. Now I see it will take years,” the six-term lawmaker from Channahon said on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

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“That’s why I’m transitioning from serving just one corner of Illinois into fighting this new nationwide mission full time,” he said.

Kinzinger has been one of the few Republicans on Capitol Hill to oppose Trump’s leadership of the GOP and decry baseless allegations that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen. He formed the Country First political action committee and movement last year to back Republicans opposed to the former president.

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U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger speaks with media following a gun violence hearing, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, at Kennedy King College.
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger speaks with media following a gun violence hearing, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, at Kennedy King College. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

In October, after a redistricting map drawn by Democrats put Kinzinger in the same congressional district as Republican U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood of Peoria in a region filled with hard right GOP voters, Kinzinger announced he would not run for Congress. But he had left the door open for a possible challenge to Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth or Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Kinzinger ruled those efforts out Wednesday as he also delivered a broadside to the Republican leadership with whom he has often clashed. Kinzinger was one of 10 House Republicans to vote for Trump’s impeachment for his role in the Jan. 6 uprising and is one of two Republicans on Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s panel investigating the causes of the insurrection.

“Some say it’s time to move on from Jan. 6th. But we can’t move on without addressing what happened or by pretending it never happened,” Kinzinger said.

“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,” he said.

As a result, Kinzinger said “the people must rise to the occasion” and restore principled GOP leadership.

“That means choosing truth over lies, hope over fear and progress over anger,” he said. “It means stepping up to vote for principled leaders—especially in the primaries. It means taking stock in who we listen to and what we ask of ourselves, thinking about what we want the future to look like.”

Kinzinger’s prospects in a statewide election bid would have been slim in a GOP primary and even more problematic in a general election in a state that has turned strongly Democratic. As a result, his decision not to run was not unexpected.

rap30@aol.com

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