Outgoing Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) has unveiled a list of endorsements for state and federal level candidates for public office that includes several Democrats.
Kinzinger has been notorious among Republicans for his vote to impeach President Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally and for his subsequent activities on the Jan. 6 panel. On the panel, Kinzinger—who was appointed as a minority party member by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) against all prior House precedent—serves with Ranking Member Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as one of only two GOP members.
Kinzinger has been vocal on the committee in blaming Trump for the events of Jan. 6. Like other members of the Jan. 6 panel, Kinzinger has painted Trump and his claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election as an existential threat to American democracy.
The long-time Trump critic’s list of endorsements includes several Democrats and a few Republicans currently on the defensive against Trump-backed Republican challengers.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
First on Kinzinger’s list of endorsements is Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
Murkowski, alongside Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), is generally considered one of the most liberal members of the GOP’s caucus in the upper chamber.
Like Kinzinger in the House, Murkowski was one of seven senators to vote for Trump’s conviction and removal from office in 2021.
Only one of those seven, Murkowski, is up for reelection this year, and she’s facing a steep primary challenge by Trump-endorsed Kelly Tshibaka. Murkowski was able to take some solace from the results of the ranked choice primary this year, where she came in first place with 45.05 percent of the vote to Tshibaka’s 38.55 percent.
Still, the real test for Murkowski is ahead, and the results will be the first indication of whether voters will be as tough on senators who voted to impeach Trump as they’ve been on House members.
Of the 10 Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment in the House, only Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) and David Valadao (R-Calif.) are still left standing. The other eight have either been defeated in a primary by GOP challengers or have announced that they will not seek reelection.
Kinzinger and Cheney were censored and cut off from national GOP funds and resources in February 2021 for their roles on the committee. Early into the 117th Congress, Kinzinger announced that he would not seek reelection. Likewise, Cheney was handily defeated for Wyoming’s lone House seat because of her position on the controversial committee.
“Murkowski courageously put her country before party by voting to convict Donald Trump at his impeachment trial, the only Republican to do so who is up for re-election [sic] this cycle,” Kinzinger wrote. “Throughout her tenure in the Senate, she has been a model for bi-partisan [sic] bridge building. Her opponent has been endorsed by Trump, and continues to help perpetuate the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen.”
Trump Critic Evan McMullin
Kinzinger also threw his support behind Utah Independent Evan McMullin, who is vying to replace Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) this year.
McMullin’s claim to fame largely comes from his 2016 campaign for president. Though he received no electoral votes, the Trump critic won 732,273 votes, or 0.53 percent of the popular vote, in 2016. Most of that support was in the Mormon stronghold of Utah, where some Republicans found Trump too socially liberal for their tastes.
Though he is now running against Lee, Lee was one of three Republican senators—the other two being former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)—to vote for McMullin in the 2016 presidential election.
In his endorsement, Kinzinger tied his support for McMullin to Lee’s position on the 2020 election.
“McMullin is an independent conservative voice who has built bi-partisan [sic] coalitions to ensure our country and its people come before party and politics,” Kinzinger said. “His opponent, U.S. Senator Mike Lee, has been endorsed by Trump, and continues to fuel conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen.”
Kinzinger also handed out several endorsements for state level positions.
On that list is Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat running for governor.
“Shapiro is a staunch defender of our democratic institutions and will lead the state with integrity,” Kinzinger wrote. “His opponent, Doug Mastriano, is an election denier who has spread dangerous conspiracy theories, fought to overturn Pennsylvania’s election results, and was present at the Capitol on January 6th after paying to bus people from Pennsylvania to D.C.”
Kinzinger also threw his support behind Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who oversaw the 2020 elections and played a role in the contested results of the state’s presidential returns. The position has thrown Hobbs into the spotlight because of the importance of Arizona to electoral politics and ongoing disputes over the legitimacy of the 2020 election in several states.
Kinzinger said of Hobbs: “As the current Arizona Secretary of State, Hobbs has been a staunch defender of our democratic institutions, despite threats of violence, and will lead the state with integrity. Her opponent, Kari Lake, is an election denier who has spread dangerous conspiracy theories, advocated for overturning Arizona’s election results, and demonstrates greater loyalty to Donald Trump than to our constitution and institutions.”
Kinzinger in turn endorsed Democrat Adrian Fontes for Hobbs’s current position as secretary of state. Fontes is competing with Republican Mark Finchem for the position. Finchem has made clear in the past that he is skeptical of his state’s reported returns in 2020.
“Fontes has proven he has the experience and integrity to serve as Secretary of State, the top election official in Arizona,” Kinzinger said. “His opponent is an extremist election denier who masterminded the bogus Arizona Audit and demonstrates greater loyalty to Donald Trump than to our constitution and institutions.”
Kinzinger also endorsed three other Democrat secretary of state candidates, including Nevada’s Cisco Aguilar, Minnesota’s incumbent Secretary of State Steve Simon, and Michigan’s incumbent Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. While Minnesota leans blue, Nevada and Michigan are considered very much in play by members of both parties. Kinzinger’s comments on each are a word-for-word repeat of his endorsement of Fontes.
One of the only Republicans on Kinzinger’s list of state-level endorsements is Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
In 2020, Raffensperger drew the ire of Trump for his handling of the election. The results—which saw Georgia go blue for the first time since 1992, when Georgians sent Bill Clinton to the Oval Office—have been among the most scrutinized of the cycle.
“As the incumbent Secretary of State, Raffensperger has proven he has the experience, integrity, and courage to serve Georgians again in that office. As the top election official in Georgia, he overcame tremendous pressure from Donald Trump and his supporters to ‘find’ enough votes to declare Trump the winner,” Kinzinger wrote. “Few politicians are willing to risk their careers to do the right thing, which is why it’s so important to support those, like Brad Raffensperger, who do.”
Kinzinger is also backing Republican Thomas Knecht for the Minnesota state House.
“Knecht … wants to build bridges to combat polarization and partisanship in the Minnesota House,” Kinzinger said. “Knecht and his campaign can serve as an important model for Republicans of good conscience to follow.”
US Representative Endorsements
Finally, Kinzinger handed out a smattering of endorsements to House candidates, including one Republican and one Independent.
The first of these, Independent Clint Smith, is challenging Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), an outspoken critic of the Jan. 6 committee and a staunch Trump ally.
“Smith is … someone devoted to country before party, and who felt compelled to run as an independent after extreme elements of the GOP sought to overturn Arizona’s election results,” Kinzinger wrote. “His opponent, Rep. Andy Biggs, is actively using his position in Congress to undermine the foundations of American democracy and perpetuate the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen.”
Kinzinger also threw his backing behind Republican Larry Labor, who is running for Connecticut’s 1st congressional District.
“Lazor … insists the GOP must break from ‘the dishonest narrative and divisive vitriol that led to the January 6th attacks on the U.S. Capitol,’” Kinzinger said. “Lazor and his campaign can serve as an important model for Republicans of good conscience to follow.”
The effect that Kinzinger’s endorsements will have is unclear, as Trump has continued to dominate Republican politics since leaving office.
Kinzinger’s list of endorsements came after Cheney said that she would campaign for Democrats if Trump were named the Republican nominee in 2024.