Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) speaks after the Republican House caucus voted to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) of her leadership, at the U.S. Capitol on on May 12 in Washington, DC. | Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
His crusade will endear him to independent and crossover voters and launch him into the top tier of presidential aspirants.
If you possess a mountain of ambition, why not aim for the highest peak?
This year the political ambition of U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger has been on vivid display. The once little-known Republican congressman of Channahon kicked off 2020 by voting to impeach then-president Donald J. Trump on the charge of “incitement of insurrection.”
Kinzinger was one of only 10 House Republicans who dared to defy Trump’s dangerous and divisive antics. That vote seriously ramped up his national profile.
Vilified and targeted by Trump and other top GOP leaders, Kinzinger persists in his high-minded crusade to protect the sanctity of truth and democracy. His opposition to all things Trump has earned him a frequent slot on the national TV shows as a voice of sanity in the Republican Party.
He is raising big money through the “Country First” Political Action Committee he set up to take on Trump’s lies and cure what he calls the “cancer” of Trumpism.
Then, the six-term lawmaker ran into a buzzsaw. His ambitions were cut short and heaped on the cutting room floor when Illinois’ Democratic map-makers eliminated his district in congressional redistricting.
Surrendering to the inevitable, Kinzinger announced he would not seek reelection next year.
Instead, he is mulling a 2022 run for statewide office — Illinois governor, or the U.S. Senate, and would “definitely” consider a presidential run, he told CNN Thursday.
He later elaborated in an interview with the Sun-Times’ Washington bureau chief, Lynn Sweet.
“I’m really kind of looking at this going, you know, obviously this is a bit of a change for me, you know, to not be running again, but I still have the fire at you know, a different kind of level,” he told Sweet. “So how best does that fit? I don’t know the answer yet. But I won’t rule anything out.”
He will “probably” decide by January, he said on CNN.
Running for a statewide office is a big mountain to climb in reliably blue Illinois. Kinzinger would enter a competitive Republican gubernatorial primary, with at least four other contestants already in play.
Much of Illinois’ GOP territory, especially downstate, is Trump Land. And even if Kinzinger snagged the nomination, he would then face billionaire Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who is likely to spend north of $100 million on his reelection campaign.
In a Senate run, Kinzinger would be reaching for another sky-high pinnacle — by taking on U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth. She enjoys her own national profile and was on President Joe Biden’s short list for vice-president.
Kinzinger is a U.S. Air Force pilot who served in the Middle East and is currently a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard. But Duckworth is no slouch in that department. The former U.S. Army helicopter pilot lost her legs in the Iraq War when her Black Hawk was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade.
So why not just go for Mt. Everest?
Kinzinger is well-positioned for a White House run.
Along with U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, he is serving on the congressional commission investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
That will give him a hefty share of turns in the media spotlight as a leading Republican voice against Trumpism.
Kinzinger could be Trump-hating Democrats’ favorite Republican. His crusade will endear him to independent and crossover voters and launch him into the top tier of presidential aspirants.
He would be set apart from others like Trump’s old buddy, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Florida Governor and Trump sycophant Ron DeSantis.
Mountains are for climbing.
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