Saying that he can’t run for reelection to Congress while at the same time waging a broader war for the future of the Republican Party, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois on Friday announced that he wouldn’t run for reelection next year.
The six-term conservative congressman and combat pilot veteran made headlines in January as the second-most high profile of the 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach former President Donald Trump. He becomes the second of that group to not seek another two-year term in the House in the 2022 midterm elections, following Rep. Anthony Gonzales of Ohio.
As he fights to break the GOP from its current domination by the former president and works to back other anti-Trump Republicans, Kinzinger stressed in a video announcing his decision that it has “become increasingly obvious to me that in order to break the narrative, I cannot focus on both a reelection to Congress and a broader fight nationwide.”
“I want to make it clear, this isn’t the end of my political future but the beginning,” he also emphasized. “Let me be clear, my passion for this country has only grown. My desire to make a difference is bigger than it’s ever been.”
Kinzinger joined the Air Force after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, serving in both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He’s currently a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard.
As a 32-year-old, he was elected to Congress in the Tea Party wave election of 2010, beating a Democratic incumbent by nearly 15 points in a north-central and northeastern Illinois district, thanks in part to Sarah Palin’s endorsement. Two years later, after redistricting, he took down 10-term GOP Rep. Don Manzullo in the primary before winning the general election.
In early January, Kinzinger joined nine other House Republicans to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the deadly attack on the Capitol by right-wing extremists and other Trump supporters bent on disrupting congressional certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. The storming of the Capitol occurred soon after Trump urged a large crowd of supporters he addressed at a rally near the White House to march to the Capitol and show strength in protesting the certification of the election.
Trump was impeached by the House a week later on one count of inciting an insurrection. The 10 Republicans joined all 222 Democrats in voting to impeach Trump, with 197 Republicans voting against impeachment. In February, after leaving the White House, Trump was acquitted in a Senate trial, with seven GOP senators joining all 50 Democrats in the chamber to vote to convict the former president.
All 10 House Republicans instantly faced the wrath of Trump and his allies, who have worked to defeat the lawmakers as they run for reelection in the midterms. Trump’s endorsed primary challengers to a number of the 10, including the most well known of the bunch, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
“I stand in awe of the courage of the other nine members in the House who voted to impeach a president of their own party, knowing it could be detrimental to their political career,” Kinzinger said.
Trump, in a statement after Kinzinger’s announcement, wrote “2 down, 8 to go!”
In an apparent jab at the former president’s brand of divisive politics, Kinzinger lamented that “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.”
And he argued that “dehumanizing each other has become the norm. We’ve taken it from social media to the streets. We’ve allowed leaders to reach power selling the false premise that strength comes from degrading others and dehumanizing those that look, act, think differently that we do. As a country, we’ve fallen for those lies and now we face a poisoned country.”
Kinzinger, who along with Cheney are the only two Republicans on a Democratic- named special committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, has seen his stance against Trump dramatically boost his fundraising. And the Country First Leadership PAC, which he formed earlier this year to support other anti-Trump Republicans, is also hauling in big bucks.
The congressman said that “I know I’m not alone. There’s many Americans that are desperately searching for a better way. They want solutions, not more problems.”
“Now is the time for choosing,” he urged. “Now is the time to join our movement at Country First.”
Another likely factor in his decision to not seek another term in the House is redistricting.
With Illinois losing a congressional seat due to the 2020 Census and Democrats controlling the redistricting process in the blue state, according to maps awaiting the signature of the Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Kinzinger may have been dumped into the same district as Republican Rep. Darin LaHood.
That would have set up a potentially nasty intra-GOP showdown in northern Illinois. Kinzinger’s decision now likely clears the way for LaHood to secure reelection in a safe Republican House district.
And there’s speculation that Kinzinger may now mull a Republican gubernatorial challenge next year against Pritzker.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Jason Donner, and James Levinson contributed to this report