NBC Chicago: Kinzinger Draws Republican Primary Challenger Over Impeachment Vote

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of the most outspoken critics of former President Donald Trump within the Republican party, has drawn a GOP primary challenger ahead of the 2022 midterm election.

Catalina Lauf, who most recently ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination in Illinois' 14th Congressional District, announced on Tuesday that she would challenge Kinzinger for his 16th District seat in next year's GOP primary.

"I never thought I'd primary a fellow Republican. But is Congressman Adam Kinzinger really a Republican any more? He isn't," Lauf said in her announcement video posted to social media, calling Kinzinger "a weak-kneed establishment Republican who cares more about his next MSNBC appearance than the voters who elected him."

Kinzinger was the first Republican member of Congress to call for Trump's removal from office after his supporters laid siege to the U.S. Capitol last month in a violent and deadly attack that temporarily halted the electoral vote count certifying President Joe Biden's victory.

He and nine other Republicans in the House later voted to impeach Trump on a charge of incitement of violence related to the riot, saying in a statement that there was "no doubt" in his mind that Trump "broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection."

Trump was later acquitted in the Senate, with seven GOP senators joining all 50 Democrats in voting to convict, short of the 67 votes required for a conviction.

Kinzinger has spoken out against Trump on several occasions and has been rumored to be considering a statewide run in Illinois, potentially for governor or U.S. Senate in 2022, according to multiple reports.

He launched a "Country First" political action committee last month to "take back" the Republican Party from Trump and his influence, though he's received backlash from within the GOP - the LaSalle County

Republican Central Committee, the Will County GOP and the Iroquois County Republican Central Committee all formally censured Kinzinger earlier this month over his impeachment vote.

Kinzinger also faced backlash from within his own family over his criticisms of Trump: 11 relatives signed a two-page handwritten letter to him, dated Jan. 8 and later published by The New York Times, calling him a "disappointment" for joining "the 'devil's army (Democrats and the fake news media)." Copies of the letter, written by Kinzinger's father's cousin, were also sent to other Republicans across Illinois.

Lauf, of Woodstock, has previously said she worked for her father's small business after a stint as a Trump-appointed advisor to the U.S. Department of Commerce, working for Uber before that. She ran for the GOP nomination in Illinois' 14th District in 2020 but finished in third place out of seven candidates in the primary, losing to then-state Sen. Jim Oberweis, who ultimately lost his bid to unseat first-term incumbent Rep. Lauren Underwood, a Democrat.

In her announcement video on Tuesday, Lauf highlighted "social media censorship, election integrity, freedom of speech, gun rights" and more as issues central to her campaign.

Kinzinger, who was first elected to Congress in 2010, did not respond to request for comment on Lauf's announcement.

The 16th District stretches from the northern border of Illinois to the eastern border of the state and including parts or all of DeKalb, Winnebago, Will, LaSalle and Grundy counties, among others.

The district includes parts of Rockford, DeKalb, Ottawa, Streator, Pontiac and more - but the district map is expected to change later this year with redistricting, when maps of all districts across the state and around the country are redrawn every ten years following the U.S. Census.

The original article and video coverage can be found on the NBC Chicago website here.