Sat. May 28th, 2022

Adam Kinzinger was the only Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday night in favor of preventing a state closure.

When asked the next morning why he broke up with his party over the issue, the Illinois congressman replied with a smile, “Because I’m a Rino.”

Donald Trump and his supporters described Kinzinger, 43, as a Republican. In name Only after the six-month congressman became one of 10 House Republicans to vote to accuse the former president of his involvement in the January 6 attack on the American capital.

Since then, Kinzinger – an Air Force veteran who flies his own four-seater single-propeller plane between Washington and his home district southwest of Chicago – has been charting an increasingly lonely course on Capitol Hill. He joined Liz Cheney as one of only two Republicans on the congressional committee investigating Jan. 6, he regularly defies his party whip and often appears on television to paralyze Trump.

Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times on Friday, Kinzinger reflected on his isolation from a party institution that once saw him as a rising star, saying, “I’m feeling more and more like the last real thing. Republican.

“Maybe I’m the one who’s the outlier now, but my values ​​have not changed,” he added.

Kinzinger revealed at the end of October that he would not get re-election for his House seat, which is re-signed as part of a redistribution process once a decade. Trump applauded the announcement, which came shortly after Anthony Gonzalez, another Republican from the House who voted to prosecute, said he would not seek re-election either. The former president issued a statement saying “2 less 8 to go!”

Kinzinger, a fiscal conservative and foreign policy hawk, said he still considers himself a Republican. But he did not reject a political future outside the GOP, saying: “If the party continues on the path, it is… At some point you have to look at it… As Reagan famously said, ‘I have “I did not leave the Democratic Party; it left me.”

The congressman played in public to run for governor of Illinois, or to challenge current Democrat Tammy Duckworth for one of the state’s two U.S. Senate seats – saying he “does not rule out” a presidential run as soon as possible. as 2024. Whatever the case, he says he will make a decision in January, after Christmas and the expected arrival of his first child with his wife, Sofia Boza-Holman, a former assistant to Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence. taking its next steps.

Adam Kinzinger: ‘[Trump] looks more and more like the crazy guy who sends out press releases at Mar-a-Lago ‘© Stephen Voss

Kinzinger referred to his political action committee, Country First, as a litmus test for his national ambitions. According to the latest applications from the Federal Electoral Commission, the PAC has raised just over $ 250,000 since its inception earlier this year. At the end of the third quarter, Kinzinger’s separate congressional campaign committee and leadership PAC raised a combined $ 4 million in the current campaign cycle, including transfers from Country First, according to data compiled by Open Secrets.

“Country First is a great opportunity for me to say this is the message we’re talking about: overcoming toxic tribalism, and actually bringing real solutions,” Kinzinger said. “Is there a constituency out there for that? What we have seen so far is yes. ”

Trump flanked the White House with another run in 2024, and his alleged grip on the party has so far prevented other Republicans – allies and critics – from openly fighting for the presidency. The latest FEC filings showed that Trump’s Save America PAC had more than $ 90 million in cash at the end of June, which gave him a substantial war chest should he launch another campaign.

But Kinzinger said he believes an anti-Trump Republican still has a chance of winning the party’s nomination.

“You look at where Trump is today compared to a year ago. Yes, he still has a good grip on the party. But he also looks more and more like the crazy guy who sends out press statements at Mar-a-Lago, ”the congressman said.

“I’m not sitting here saying we’ve made real progress,” Kinzinger added. “But I’m also watching how it goes, man, I could see in two years people are just, like, about him.”

For now, Kinzinger says he is confident Republicans will regain control of both the House and Senate in next year’s midterm elections. But he had no fist when he said Kevin McCarthy, the House’s top Republican, was “not fit” to be Speaker of the House in light of his support for Trump and polarizing members of Congress like Marjorie Taylor Greene.

“When you are suddenly held hostage. . . someone out there who says crazy things. . . you are not fit to lead, ”Kinzinger said. “You’ll end up basically being the bow figure for Marjorie Taylor Greene or Lauren Boebert.”

Democrats have in recent days called for Boebert to be stripped of her committee duties after the Colorado congresswoman made Islamophobic remarks about the Democratic Ilhan Omar. Taylor Greene lost her committee roles earlier this year due to her endorsement of conspiracy theories.

“You can get along with people and do that kind of thing. “But you have to be prepared to take a strong stand, because you are now the steward of the People’s House,” Kinzinger said. “When you start violating standards. . . it is a level of decency that we can not allow to collapse. ”

Kinzinger took his criticism of McCarthy, whom he described as a former friend, a step further and blamed the House minority leader for Republicans’ continued embrace of Trump.

“When you saw Kevin McCarthy go to Mar-a-Lago and take the political spades and attack them and bring Donald Trump back to life, I personally think that Kevin McCarthy himself is the reason why Donald Trump is still a great political force. , “Kinzinger said. , citing a widely publicized trip the minority leader took to Florida weeks after the Jan. 6 attack.

“That picture changed everything. It has definitely changed everything here, ”he says, pointing to the Capitol. “There was silence until he went there, and then everyone was like, oh, yeah, we’re with Trump.”

Asked about last month’s election in Virginia, Kinzinger said the former Carlyle CEO. Glenn Youngkin Trump-cautious Republicans have given a blueprint for election success with his successful gubernatorial campaign.

“If you are a candidate. . . you can see how Youngkin did it, and model it, ”Kinzinger said. “He showed an opportunity and gave an opportunity to those who really do not want to be everything in Trumpism.”

But the congressman was not without criticism of Youngkin, who despite keeping the former president at arm’s length on the campaign track, also made explicit appeals to his base, and at one point said Trump “represented[ed] so much ”of why he was eligible for office.

“Maybe I’m too much of a point that we should just tell people the truth,” Kinzinger said. “But I’m still uncomfortable with telling one group you love Trump and telling the other you want to go on, you know? Is that really honest? ”

Swamp notes

Every Monday and Friday, Rana Foroohar and Edward Luce discuss the biggest themes at the intersection of money and power in American politics. Sign up for the newsletter here

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