Chicago Tribune: Rep. Adam Kinzinger launches ‘country first’ movement as Trump criticism puts focus on Illinois GOP divide amid search for new leadership
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s vote to impeach Donald Trump and criticism of Republican congressional colleagues who support the former president has highlighted a split in the state GOP as it gets set to decide on new leadership.
The Republican State Central Committee will meet Feb. 6 to decide among three candidates to replace outgoing Chairman Tim Schneider. But some in the party want to use the forum to discuss Kinzinger and a possible reprimand for his anti-Trump statements, which increased in vitriol following the Nov. 3 election and the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters.
“There’s a group that wants to talk about it and it’s not positive. There are those who want to censure him. There’s people wanting to know what the state party is going to do about it,” said former Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar, who represents the 11th Congressional District near Kinzinger’s 16th District on the state GOP central committee.
The schism in the state GOP mirrors what’s happening with Republicans nationally as the party struggles to move forward even as many of its voters continue to back Trump and believe the November election was stolen from him.
On Sunday, Kinzinger doubled down on his position, announcing the formation of a “country first” movement and website attached to his Future First Leadership political action committee. He’s seeking like-minded supporters to “take back our party” and to “unplug the outrage machine, reject the politics of personality and cast aside the conspiracy theories and the rage.”
“I think the Republican Party has lost its moral authority in a lot of areas. That doesn’t mean we don’t need to fight back to defend what we believe are our conservative principles. But when I ask people now, what is a conservative principle, how many people think that conservative principles are things like just build the wall and charge the Capitol and have an insurrection?” Kinzinger said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
“I will sit here and defend conservative principles, but it’s hard to have seen an insurrection three weeks ago to say that’s no big deal and then lecture Democrats on something. We’ve lost our moral authority and we need to regain it as a party,” he said.
Kinzinger, who’s from Channahon and was first elected in 2010, was a supporter of Trump’s congressional agenda more than 90% of the time. But he did not shy from criticizing the president and grew more outspoken as Trump made false claims that his reelection was stolen and that massive vote fraud drove Democrat Joe Biden to the presidency.
Kinzinger accused Trump and those who backed his claims of a stolen election of being “grifters” looking to improve their political standing and fundraising with the former president’s base.
One of 10 House Republicans to vote for Trump’s second impeachment, over encouraging insurrection — he voted against the first impeachment — Kinzinger said it was “not a vote I took lightly, but a vote I took confidently. I’m at peace.”
The full article can be found on the Chicago Tribune website here.