Kinzinger is one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday. “I will be part of this battle to redefine this party,” he said.
WASHINGTON — By speaking out against President Donald Trump’s crazy, dangerous conspiracy theories and being the first Republican to call for Trump to be thrown out of office after the Capitol siege, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., has gained fame and outsider status in his own party.
What does he do with this? “I just don’t know,” Kinzinger said in a Wednesday call, a wide-ranging conversation with Illinois reporters.
Kinzinger said he was not “plotting or planning any statewide run; I won’t rule it out.”
For now, as Republicans reckon with the coming post-Trump presidential era, Kinzinger said “it would be a fool’s errand” to run “until we know where the party’s going.”
We spoke on the day Trump became the only president to be impeached twice.
Kinzinger has been in very high media demand since the Trump-inspired mob of domestic terrorists attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, leaving five dead in their wake.
He was one of 10 Republicans to vote for impeachment Wednesday and was the only Republican to join with Democrats on Tuesday to vote for a measure calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to force Trump out.
Now Kinzinger, 42, is at a crossroads.
Nationally and in Illinois, the Republican Party is divided between the Trumpists and election deniers and mainstream conservatives, like Kinzinger, a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard.
He is in his sixth term in Congress, representing a district south and west of Chicago. He faced no primary foe in 2020 and won reelection with 64.71% of the vote.
Kinzinger on his political future
Illinois Republicans are hunting for candidates to challenge Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Sen. Tammy Duckworth in 2024. Illinois Democrats will also be carving new district maps, with Illinois to lose one or two seats in Congress.
Pritzker has every incentive now to draw a very favorable map for Kinzinger — pack it with GOP precincts — to encourage the best known Republican in Illinois to stay in Congress.
“I think the next few months will determine — I think there’s going to be a lot of reckoning in this party about how did we get here, how we were led here, what did we do wrong, what did we do right. …
“And I think the next few months will tell; does this party, you know, to use kind of a crude analogy I’ve been using, does it wake up Saturday morning from a Friday night bender and look around and say, ‘What did we do?’ ”
Kinzinger wonders if he has a future in a Trump-influenced GOP party
“There’s no doubt that if this party continues to hold on to this idea of a stolen election, anger, conspiracies and division, there’s probably not a bright future for Adam in it. And quite honestly, I’m not sure if I would want” a future with that kind of party “in that case.”
“But if we begin to wake up and figure out what conservatism is … I will be part of this battle to redefine this party.”
Reaction to Kinzinger’s anti-Trump stands
“I’ve heard from friends that don’t want to be friends with me anymore. … I’ve had family members who are somewhat distant relatives sign a petition disowning me,” citing “Bible verses and that I was part of the devil’s army. That actually reemboldened me because I believe that we are fighting, you know, against a lot of misinformation, where even people that are Christians have been misled.”