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Kinzinger, top Trump critic in GOP, won’t seek another term

Video announcement cites a ‘poisoned country’ being ‘fed mistruths’

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said Friday he will not seek reelection in 2022.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said Friday he will not seek reelection in 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of the GOP’s chief critics of the party’s embrace of former President Donald Trump, announced Friday that he will not seek reelection in 2022. 

Kinzinger is the second of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump to announce his intention to leave Congress, after Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez. Trump issued a statement Friday that simply said, “2 down, 8 to go!”

He was facing the dual pressure of outrage from Trump and his supporters  and the pending adoption of a new congressional map in Illinois that would almost certainly make his reelection prospects more difficult. 

Kinzinger offered a damning assessment of the “incredibly perilous” state of American politics and the divisions in Congress in a nearly five-minute video announcement posted on Twitter. He repeatedly alluded to Trump without mentioning him by name. He also referenced a political future beyond Congress but did not detail his plans. 

“In this day, to prevail or survive, you must belong to a tribe,” he said. “Our political parties only survive by appealing to the most motivated and the most extreme elements within it. And the price tag to power has skyrocketed.  And fear and distrust has served as an effective strategy to meet that cost.”

He said his party “allowed leaders to reach power selling the false premise that strength comes from degrading others” and it has led to a “poisoned country, filled with outrage, blinding our ability to achieve real strength.” The answer, he said, is to “unplug from the mistruths we’ve been fed in Congress.” 

He said he was “in awe of the courage” of the nine other Republicans who voted to impeach “a president of their own party” following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, knowing it “could be detrimental” to their careers. 

Trump has sought to rally support for primary challenges to those members to varying degrees of success. All of the incumbents who were seeking reelection as of the end of the last reporting period — including Kinzinger — had raised more money than their potential  opponents in the most recent fundraising disclosure period. 

Kinzinger, a veteran of the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan, was among the most outspoken of the group in his denouncement of the direction the GOP was headed under Trump. He is one of two Republicans, along with Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, serving on a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot, and his allies launched a Super PAC, Americans Keeping Country First, devoted to protecting Republicans who stood up to Trump’s  supporters. 

A new district map approved by the Democratically controlled Illinois Legislature Thursday night put Kinzinger’s home in the same district as fellow Republican Rep. Darin LaHood. The new district includes much of LaHood’s old district in the Bloomington and Peoria suburbs, plus conservative parts of the state in Northwest Illinois.

Kinzinger had $3.4 million in his campaign account on Sept. 30 after raising $562,000 during the third quarter. That’s more than the six Republicans running in his old district, but LaHood had $3.9 million, after raising $605,000 during the quarter. 

Another Republican who faced a Trump-backed primary challenger after voting for impeachment, Gonzalez said in September he would not run because of the “the toxic dynamics inside our own party.”

During Trump’s presidency, Kinzinger voted to for the president’s position on bills 91 percent of the time, only slightly below the 92 percent average for all Republicans, according to CQ Vote Watch. But he broke with a majority of his fellow Republicans more often, with an 88 percent “party unity” score during Trump’s term, compared with the average GOP member’s score of 94 percent.

This year, that gap has grown wider, with Kinzinger voting the same as a majority of his GOP colleagues 78 percent of the time, compared with a party average of 95 percent.

Kinzinger is the fourth House Republican to announce his retirement. Six others are seeking other offices next year.

Michael Macagnone contributed to this report.

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