Rockford Register Star: Our View: Kinzinger's potential sky-high; he deserves to be re-elected

The Rockford Register Star editorial board has endorsed Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) for re-election.

In most election years, the choice in the 16th U.S. House District would have been easy.

In one corner, you have the Republican incumbent, Adam Kinzinger, who is running for a fifth term. Smart, likable and quick-witted, Editorial Board discussions with him typically are freewheeling, informative affairs. He possesses an abundance of common sense, one of the qualities we like to see in our representatives.

We’re also proud of the national reputation Kinzinger has built as an expert in foreign and military affairs. We’re proud, too, of his commitment to continue his own military service as a pilot in the Air National Guard. Members of Congress find their lanes, and Kinzinger certainly has found his.

Kinzinger gives us a lot to like, as evidenced by our previous endorsements.

His Democratic opponent is Sara Dady, a Rockford native and unabashed lover of the city. Dady returned to Rockford after college and law school and built a practice specializing in immigration.

Her passion for the plight of immigrants is heartfelt. In her campaign for the 16th District congressional seat, she has been forthright in condemning the atrocity of family separation while calling for sensible immigration reform in line with the nation’s history of welcoming people from all over the world who share American ideals.

Dady also has been outspoken in her support for Medicare for all, an idea whose time may not be here yet but is drawing ever nearer.

Although she is running on a shoestring, Dady has through sheer pluck mounted the most serious challenge of Kinzinger’s congressional career.

We still prefer Kinzinger in the 16th District because of his experience in the halls of Congress and expertise in matters of existential importance in a dangerous world. He is endorsed.

That’s because Kinzinger seems to have grown far cozier with the White House of President Donald Trump than we ever thought possible, given the revulsion the congressman has expressed at the president’s rhetoric and behavior — revulsion that made perfect sense to us given Kinzinger’s own probity and an upbringing steeped in Midwestern values by a father who ran faith-based organizations and a mother who was a schoolteacher.

Do we expect Kinzinger to break with party orthodoxy on issues like taxes and guns? No. But with a Democratic takeover of the House seeming more probable by the day, we’re likely to see a stalemate on those and other issues, at least through 2020.

Besides, policies can be changed.

It’s harder, however, to undo the damage done by the president’s repeated attacks on the institutions on which our democracy is built. Independent law enforcement, the intelligence community and, yes, the free, robust and independent press are just three that come to mind.

The erosion of public trust in these institutions, abetted by the administration, won’t be reversed overnight — unless, that is, Kinzinger and similarly wired members of his party condemn, in no uncertain terms, the president’s demolition of democratic norms and institutions.

We continue to believe, as we have throughout his congressional career, that Kinzinger’s potential is sky-high. Assuming he wins re-election to a House that flips to the Democrats, Kinzinger’s problem-solving focus and engaging personal style will leave him well positioned to influence legislation even from the minority. (His warm relationship with Democratic 17th District Rep. Cheri Bustos, who is likely to rise in the leadership ranks if her party takes the House, won’t hurt, either.)

In Kinzinger, we see a man with the smarts and vitality to help reformulate a moderate Republicanism with a centrist lilt that appeals to the broad swath of the electorate that has been exhausted by the rhetoric and behavior at the extremes of both parties, and that is disillusioned by White House efforts to undermine our most cherished institutions. We can think of no one better suited for the task than a congressman from the Land of Lincoln.

 

The original endorsement can be found on the Rockford Register Star website here.