“He was believed to be a challenger for governor against [current Illinois governor] Pritzker, so a lot of his early actions were seen in that lens,” says Scott Kennedy, a Democratic media consultant who runs the analytics website Illinois Election Data.
“Illinois is a tough state for Republicans,” says Walsh, the former congressman, “but Adam is the perfect kind of Republican to win statewide.”
The greater challenge might not be winning over independents or moderate Democrats in a statewide race but overcoming the fury of a Republican base that is still fiercely loyal to Trump. If those GOP voters had been willing to overlook Kinzinger’s opposition to conspiracy theories and decertification before the attempted insurrection at the Capitol, his insistence on holding Trump accountable for the attack might be considered unforgivable. “Adam’s problem,” Walsh says, “is that because of his vote, I can’t imagine him getting through a primary.”
Kinzinger has managed to create for himself a kind of no man’s land: A guy who supported Donald Trump’s reelection, and then voted to impeach him.
“We no longer view this as being completely calculated,” Kennedy says. “It seems highly likely he made these decisions without his immediate political future in mind.”