La Salle County GOP votes to censure Adam Kinzinger

Congressman tells ‘The View’ he’s at total peace with where’s he’s at right now

Citing the congressman was one of 10 Republican representatives to vote in favor of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment and that he has not met with the La Salle County Republican Central Committee in more than six years, the La Salle County GOP voted Tuesday to censure U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

The resolution passed with 88% of the precinct committeemen voting yes to censure the congressman.

A censure is a formal statement of disapproval. It doesn’t remove a lawmaker from office.

Kinzinger (R-Channahon) launched a campaign Sunday called Country First to steer the Republican party away from the recent politics of Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Since the November election, Kinzinger has been outspoken that Trump and his supporters should accept the election results. Since November, Trump has not proven any widespread election fraud.

In neighboring Grundy County, state Rep. David Allen Welter (R-Morris) told Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller Grundy County voted not to censure Kinzinger.

The Chicago Tribune reported the state GOP may discuss a possible reprimand Saturday for Kinzinger’s recent comments about Trump. On the national stage, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, kept a leadership post in the party by a 145-61 vote Wednesday when it was challenged, after she voted in favor of impeachment. Kinzinger said in a statement Thursday he “proudly voted to keep Liz Cheney as our House Conference Leader and was glad to see such a strong vote by my colleagues.”

Larry Smith, chairman of the La Salle County Republicans, said Kinzinger is alienating his base, which he said is mostly pro-Trump. In La Salle County, Trump received 56% of the vote. The La Salle County Republicans led a rally Saturday that drew about 150 people to Ottawa’s Washington Square to show their displeasure with Kinzinger’s impeachment vote.

“The La Salle County Republicans have received hundreds upon hundreds of emails, text messages and phone calls from our county and beyond expressing their frustration and a lot more with Congressman Kinzinger’s actions and statements the past few months,” said Larry Smith, chairman of the La Salle County Republicans, in a statement. “Many have been very direct that their support for the Republican Party is over if Congressman Kinzinger’s behavior isn’t addressed. Though our Central Committee is not noted for political activism and we have always supported Republicans at every level, Congressman Kinzinger’s actions and statements against former President Trump have opened a Pandora’s box of criticism.”

When his office was asked about his reaction to the censure, Kinzinger’s Communications Director Maura Gillespie responded to Shaw Media: “While Capitol Police Officer (Brian) Sicknick was being honored in state for his ultimate sacrifice – defending our democracy – the La Salle County GOP was condemning Congressman Kinzinger for trying to hold the President accountable for the actions that led to his death.”

Smith said the La Salle County Republican Central Committee has received unsolicited support for the censure from more than 40 county Republican central committees around Illinois.

“Adam’s idea politically is like shooting the horses that are carrying his wagon, and he expects it to be replaced with a Maserati or something that isn’t there,” Smith said.

When asked about Trump’s appeal, Smith said in a phone interview Wednesday, the president had built a strong economy prior to the pandemic with low unemployment rates, quieted Iran and North Korea and “had China on its heels.”

While Smith said he isn’t sure of its extent nationally, he said he believes voter fraud is an issue and he has filed his own case against La Salle County Clerk Lori Bongartz over her handling of mail-in votes in an attempt to overturn the La Salle County state’s attorney’s race. Evidence has not been heard in that case yet.

Kinzinger appeared on ABC’s “The View” Wednesday and answered questions, including one on whether a Republican candidate is viable if they don’t embrace Trump’s brand. Co-host Meghan McCain cited a poll that six in 10 Republicans believe the party should continue following Trump’s brand.

During his interview, Kinzinger said Republicans have focused on winning elections and once they win, they can use their beliefs to make policy, but he believes the party is losing touch with its policy.

“I’m as conservative as anybody, I have my nuances, but the real litmus test for Republicanism in some corners is your undying allegiance to Donald Trump,” said Kinzinger, who is serving his sixth term in Congress. “When you look at, we want to win the House in two years, President Trump has this big base, they’re excited, they give money, let’s go to that, but the reality is we have to look and say we had insurrection on Jan. 6, we had an officer that was murdered in that process, two that took their own lives since ... this is a moment when leaders have to lead.”

Kinzinger said most Republicans are good-hearted people and mean well, but there are factions – he cited the Proud Boys and conspiracy theorists – the party can’t reconcile. He added that it takes winning back people who voted Republican that the party lost in the last 10 years. Smith was skeptical Wednesday that enough of those people are out there.

“Leadership isn’t just about going and getting elected, so you can take votes,” Kinzinger said in his TV appearance Wednesday. “It’s about seeing dark moments you’re in whether it’s a party or a nation and showing people a bright way out no matter what the cost is, even if it means losing an election. That’s a risk you have to take, because it’s not worth it otherwise. I feel at total peace with where I’m at right now.”

Derek Barichello

Derek is a Streator High and University of Illinois graduate. He worked at the Albany-Herald in Albany, Ga., and for Sauk Valley Media in Sterling, before returning to his hometown paper. He's now news editor for both the NewsTribune and The Times.