Rep. Adam Kinzinger is a conservative Republican representing a wide outer-ring around Chicago that includes the last suburbs and exurbsstill held by a Republican and includes all or parts of 14 counties. Most of Kinzinger's voters live in swingy Winnebago (won by Biden this cycle), plus red LaSalle, Grundy, Ogle and Boone counties, but the district stretches from the Wisconsin border all the way around Chicago and south to rural Iroquois County (R+64) on the Indiana border.
When it's time to vote in Congress Kinzinger can be counted on to toe the Republican Party line-- mostly. His ProgressivePunch lifetime crucial vote score is 4.95%, less progressive than 57 Republicans-- but... well, still not less than 1%, like fellow Illinoisian Darin LaHood. 9 Republicans, including Liz Cheney, have zero scores. No, Adam Kinzinger has a pulse.
This cycle he beat a Democratic social media candidate -- who managed to raise almost half a million dollars-- 218,839 (64.7%) to 119,313 (35.3%). Winnebago County is the biggest county in the district and it gave Biden a 60,390- 58,721 vote triumph over Trump (49.6% to 48.3%). Kinzinger also won Winnebago County-- and with a far bigger margin than Biden, indicating that both Trump and Biden voters cast ballots for him. Kinzinger picked up 57,530 votes (60.4%) in Winnebago to his opponent's 37,774 (39.6%). Kinzinger significantly out-performed Trump in the crucial county.
So, considering his very conservative voting record, why did Kinzinger manage to win over Biden voters? Did you see this Trump tweet this afternoon, whining about RINOs who are accepting the reality of his very large loss and bigly rejection by the American people?
Kinzinger went further than a furtive or helpless acknowledgement that Biden won. Sure to infuriate the Orange Menance, Kinzinger is dialing up his criticism of Trump and staking his ground in the post-Trump GOP. Considering a 2022 statewide run-- either for the US Senate or for governor-- he told Politico reporter Melanie Zanona that Republicans have come to a fork in the road and have to make a decision about the future of their party. He's a mainstream conservative and a patriot who has no interest in Trump's brand of fascism. "We have two different directions to go as Republicans. And I’m on the direction of, let’s get back to our roots and explain what conservatism is, so we can actually win the generation we’re gonna need to stay relevant... I’m not saying this to try to sound cool but I’m not afraid of anything in politics."
Kinzinger also insists he has no motive other than feeling a genuine, moral obligation to counteract the rhetoric Trump and his allies are peddling-- and Kinzinger wishes more of his fellow Republicans would stand up, too.
“I think the long term impact of this could be devastating… It’s important to be outspoken,” said Kinzinger, who acknowledged he is “concerned” about the direction of his party. “That’s why I decided to put this on the line. We’ve lost our moral authority to be outraged.”
“When you end up where principles don’t matter, beliefs don’t matter, it’s just about who can be the loudest and kind of maintain power through raw anger and aggression, you’re no different than a lot of Latin American countries at that point,” he added.
Kinzinger has long been willing to break with Trump over foreign policy and national security issues, such as the president’s plans to draw down U.S. troops abroad. He also famously admonished the president’s “both sides” comment after the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Va. But in recent weeks, Kinzinger has pushed back on the president in increasingly aggressive ways.
In one notable tweet, Kinzinger took aim at Trump’s Twitter account, posting on the social media site: “Time to delete your account.”
In another post, Kinzinger vowed to override a potential presidential veto of a bipartisan defense bill, telling Trump “it’s really not about you.” And at one point, Kinzinger pleaded with the president to “STOP Spreading debunked misinformation... This is getting insane.”
When it was leaked that Trump had decided to leave Republicans who criticize him off the guest list of the COVID-Christmas super-spreader parties he's planning, Kinzinger was nonplused: "Great! I don't think I was planning to go anyway!"