“There is little to no desire to bridge our differences, and unity is no longer a word we use,” Kinzinger said. “It has also become increasingly evident that in order to break the narrative, I cannot focus on both a Congressional re-election and a larger nationwide fight at the same time.”
Kinzinger, who is friends with LaHood, had to face a strong chance of returning to Congress after spending much of his later years criticizing the president, who still holds an iron grip on the GOP electorate.
And even before the Democrats appeared on a new congressional map, it was clear they were planning to dismantle as many of the state’s red light districts as possible, either pushing incumbents together or carving up their homes in the new neighborhoods. which most closely resembled their old seats. GOP reps Mike Bost and Mary Miller are also looping through a southern district.
Some of Kinzinger’s colleagues were quick to note that his decision did not surprise them at all.
“I liked Adam because he served our country well, but his opinions and votes did not match the goals or guidelines of the Conservatives, especially with the radical socialist agenda we are fighting against today,” said Representative Ralph Norman (RS.C.), member of the House Freedom Caucus.
And Trump was quick to celebrate the news in an emailed statement to reporters: “2 down, 8 to go!” he wrote.
Questions about Kinzinger’s fate in Congress have swirled for months as he leaned fiercely into his criticisms of Trump as well as some of his own GOP colleagues. His decision to join the select committee on January 6, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was appointed, further complicated his relations with Congress.
Far-right conservatives – with whom Kinzinger was once aligned – have welcomed his decision.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus held press conferences calling on GOP leader Kevin McCarthy to endorse a conference resolution that would have effectively removed Kinzinger and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Another prominent critic of Trump, from their committee assignments to serving on the panel examining the insurgency on Capitol Hill.
“Unfortunately since I came to Congress in January, I have seen with my own eyes that Representatives Kinzinger and Cheney have done more to harm the Republican Conference than to help them while working for Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi,” the first rookie Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said in late July during the push to have Kinzinger withdrawn. “These members should not be allowed to participate in our private, closed-door meetings … why can he participate in these conversations while he returns and talks to the opposition?”
And first-year Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) In a statement, Kinzinger called a “traitor to the Republican Party” for his opposition to Trump.
Kinzinger also hit back against some of his fiercest critics, launching his Country First PAC, designed to help other GOP candidates who voted to impeach Trump.
Although Kinzinger on Friday decried both Democrats and Republicans in his prerecorded remarks for appealing to the “most motivated and extreme elements” of their parties, he appeared to refer specifically to Trump’s political style and divisions fomented by the electoral falsehoods of the former president.
“We have enabled rulers to come to power, by selling the false premise that strength comes from the degradation of others and the dehumanization of those who look, act or think differently from us,” he said. “As a country, we have fallen into the trap of these lies. And now we are faced with a poisoned country filled with indignation blinding our ability to achieve real strength.”
Gonzalez already announced his retirement last month long before Ohio completed its redistribution process. He has already faced a challenge from former Trump official Max Miller.
The other eight Republicans in favor of impeachment have mixed re-election prospects. Cheney has a challenger approved by the former president. Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina has a well-funded opponent. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse from Washington and Representative David Valadao from California live in states with multi-party primaries that could increase their chances.
Representatives Peter Meijer and Fred Upton of Michigan and John Katko of New York all reside in states that have not yet completed their redistribution process.
Kinzinger, first elected in 2010, is a former Air Force pilot who relied heavily on his military background during his first campaign. And he is no stranger to unfavorable redistribution. Ten years ago, he was drawn to Republican Representative Don Manzullo, who was twice his age and had previously represented more of today’s territory. Kinzinger beat Manzullo in a primary, anyway, 54 percent to 46 percent.
While his retirement is yet another sign to Republicans that there is less room in the GOP for those who have chosen to break away from Trump, even out of office, Kinzinger says he’s not done yet. And he hasn’t ruled out offers for other higher positions, including the governor’s seat, the Senate or potentially beyond.
“I want to be clear: this is not the end of my political future, but the beginning,” he said in the video.