Ten members of the House voted to impeach President Trump. Each one of them is smart enough to know they would be facing a backlash within the Republican Party. The most prominent among the group of ten is Congresswoman Liz Cheney. She is a member of the House leadership.
There has been a lot of speculation about her fate in the news media. Will she remain in leadership? Will she face a primary opponent in 2022?
Less attention has been given to Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger. I have decided to write about him for several reasons. Next to Cheney, he arguably has the most to lose. He has been a favorite of left-wing media for his generally anti-Trump statements – but he still remained a bit of a golden boy with Republican congressional leadership.
Of the ten wayward representatives, he is the one I personally know the best. That is because my firm managed the campaign of his primary opponent when Kinzinger made his first run for Congress. Obviously, he won both the primary and the General Election.
From the onset of his political career, Kinzinger has had much higher ambitions – maybe the highest political ambition of all. He has been looking for an opportunity to run for the United States Senate – and position himself for the next logical promotion – the presidency.
Kinzinger’s is not an unreasonable ambition.
Many political upstarts keep a longing eye on the Oval Office. He has – or at least had – as much potential as any freshman politician. And he now has 10 years of service in the House under his belt. He has movie-star good looks and a rather pleasant – even charming – personality.
His main obstacle to upward mobility in politics was the fact that he is a Republican congressman in a very Democrat state. Even his Congressional District is trending more Democrat. He also has limited appeal to conservatives. His voting record rating by the Heritage Foundation is only 40 percent. That puts him in the more liberal wing of the GOP.
Kinzinger might have once gotten the GOP nomination for the Senate but winning a statewide General Election in Illinois has become an increasingly daunting challenge for Kinzinger – or any Republican. He might have made a national name for himself by angling for a top Cabinet position in a Republican administration. It obviously did not happen in the Trump administration for obvious reasons, but Trump is not likely to return to the Oval Office in 2024. Just my opinion.
With that impeachment vote, however, Kinzinger has made himself more than slightly toxic in Republican circles. Now, a GOP nomination for the Senate in Illinois is somewhere between improbable and impossible.
But there is another route.
What if Kinzinger decides to become a Democrat. He would not be handed the Democrat nomination for the Senate in Illinois when incumbent Democrat Senator Dick Durbin retires. There are already machine Democrats forming a line. But … Kinzinger has enough shelf appeal to win the nomination away from whatever party hack the machine Democrats might put up.
Kinzinger’s problem with that scenario is that he tends to be a political freelancer. Can he subjugate his own political beliefs to join a Party that demands loyalty above all? Democrat officeholders are required to toe the Party line. You see that in all the critical votes. Only one congressional Democrat voted against impeaching Trump the first time – and he was forced to switch parties.
Kinzinger may be a man without a country — well, at least without a political base. Some say his vote for impeachment was courageous. Others say it was stupid. Kinzinger, himself, says he is not sorry for that vote and that he is prepared for whatever comes his way – but maybe he underestimated what will come his way – or not come his way. Of course, he has no other choice but to accept his fate. He exiled himself – and we will have to wait and see if he can find a way out of exile.
So, there ‘tis.