Quad City Times/Chicago Tribune: Kinzinger hasn't ruled out presidential bid

Less than a week after announcing he would not seek reelection to Congress under a Democratic redistricting map, Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger told CNN Thursday he is weighing possible statewide bids for Illinois governor or U.S. senator in next year’s election.

In an interview with the network, the six-term Republican from Channahon said he expected to make a decision on a statewide bid “probably” in January. Candidates are scheduled to begin seeking petition signatures Jan. 13 to appear on the June 28 primary ballot.

Kinzinger also said he would not rule out a potential White House bid in 2024.

“The key is, how do we restore the honor of the party in the country?” Kinzinger told CNN. He said he “definitely” wouldn’t rule out a White House run in 2024.

A statewide bid by Kinzinger would run counter to what he told reporters in February after becoming one of 10 House Republicans voting to impeach former President Donald Trump over his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

Kinzinger said in February that his stance against Trump was not an effort to position himself for statewide office and even questioned if he could win a GOP primary in Illinois.

“It’s not my intention to run for anything statewide. I think there’s probably less of that chatter. At the beginning, I heard people speculate that I was taking the positions I was taking to set myself up to run statewide. And I’ll tell you, people who speculate that don’t know me. And, I would even argue that they probably don’t know something about politics if you think I can get through a primary pretty easily,” Kinzinger said then.

Kinzinger has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s continued leadership of the GOP as well as House Republican leadership for catering to the former president.

Kinzinger announced he wouldn’t seek reelection to the House after Illinois Democrats approved a new congressional map for the next decade that would put him in the same district as four-term Republican U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood of Peoria. LaHood has been a staunch Trump supporter and the new district leans rural Republican. He is seeking reelection.

Trump, who has been seeking political revenge against Republicans who voted for his impeachment, issued a statement from his leadership political action committee, “2 down, 8 to go!” following Kinzinger’s announcement that he would not seek reelection.

He was the second Republican to announce his retirement after voting to impeach Trump, following U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio.

In making his retirement announcement via video, Kinzinger said, “This isn’t the end of my political future, but the beginning.” But he also said he was seeking a larger political stage than Congress in his effort to recapture Republicanism from Trump and the former president’s supporters.

Kinzinger earlier this year launched his own “Country First” PAC to support anti-Trump Republican candidates.

Despite his fervent opposition to Trump, Kinzinger is a conservative Republican and supported the former president’s positions in Congress 90% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. That would present him with difficult odds running statewide in a heavily Democratic state.

Bruce Rauner was the state’s last Republican governor, serving one term before being defeated in 2018 by current Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who is seeking reelection next year. Mark Kirk was the state’s last GOP U.S. senator, serving one term before being defeated by Democrat Tammy Duckworth in 2016.

Duckworth is seeking reelection next year, and no major Republican opposition has surfaced to challenge her. Four Republicans have announced they are seeking the party’s nomination to challenge Pritzker: Gary Rabine of Bull Valley, state Sen. Darren Bailey of Xenia, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf of Waterloo and Jessie Sullivan of Petersburg.

In the CNN interview, Kinzinger said one of those paths — U.S. senator or governor — appeals to him more but would not say which one.

A Kinzinger spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on the CNN interview.

The original article and video coverage can be found on the QC Times website here.