Two candidates say they want to challenge Adam Kinzinger in a GOP primary

James Marter, Jack Lombardi both are on-record saying they will run against Kinzinger

Congressman Adam Kinzinger recently was censured by Republican central committees in La Salle, Iroquois and Will counties, and now two candidates have announced that they want to challenge Kinzinger in the 2022 primary.

One candidate is familiar – James Marter. The Oswego resident challenged Kinzinger in the 2018 Republican primary. The congressman received 67.9% of the vote against Marter.

Another candidate is Will County Republican Jack Lombardi.

Kinzinger has been outspoken against former President Donald Trump after the November election. He said Trump and other Republicans need to accept the election results. He also voted in favor of impeachment against the president and to remove U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, from her committees.

Kinzinger, R-Channahon, has started a campaign called Country First to move the GOP away from Trump’s politics, saying that the Capitol violence made him believe the party is heading in the wrong direction.

In 2020, Marter finished fifth in a seven-person race for the Republican nomination in the 14th District, receiving 11% of the vote in the race won by Jim Oberweis, who ultimately lost to U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville. Marter also lost his 2016 bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. senator against Mark Kirk.

Marter said on the conservative program Wilkow Majority that he is running to restore the Republican party and to get rid of Kinzinger, who Marter referred to as an establishment Republican, a moderate and a neoconservative. He said Kinzinger attacked not only Trump with his recent campaign but also the GOP’s voting base. In La Salle County, Trump received 56% of the Nov. 3 vote.

“I think he’s done in the Republican party,” Marter said of Kinzinger.

Beyond disagreeing with Kinzinger’s impeachment vote, Marter said Kinzinger voted for fiscally irresponsible bills and wanted to ban bump stocks after the Las Vegas shooting. A bump stock is a device that attaches to semiautomatic rifles, which normally shoot one round per trigger-pull, to speed up the firing rate, essentially bumping the trigger faster than the shooter would be able to manually.

Marter told the Illinois Review what’s different in this run is Kinzinger said he supported Trump in 2018, but now voters know he doesn’t.

“Our rights and freedoms are under attack, thanks in part, to the lack of representation by Adam Kinzinger,” Marter wrote. “As we are seeing this week, if you give the Left an inch, they will take your freedoms: Censoring, disarming, de-platforming, threatening and punishing. We elect Republicans to protect us from these things, not enable them!”

Lombardi, who also said he wants to run against Kinzinger for the 2022 Republican nomination in the 16th District, launched social media pages and a website. He said he was present for Will County’s censure vote.

Lombardi described himself as a Christian, a husband, a father and a patriot Republican. He called Kinzinger a “RINO” – “Republican in name only” – and said Kinzinger voted to remove “one of the most patriotic presidents this country’s ever known.”

The candidate said Trump removed policies “that put you and me to the wayside under Obama.”

Some of his recent tweets state: “When elected, one of my top priorities will be a thorough investigation of big tech and their ‘fact-checkers.’ I want a complete discovery, including their identities. Americans WILL NOT continue to be silenced”; “We have another Democrat president trying to strengthen the men of other countries, while promoting that more American men should wear dresses”; and “American Oil creates American Jobs that put America First!”

The two candidates’ announcements that they will run against Kinzinger come after conservative activist Scott Presler of Virginia hosting a meeting this weekend in Minooka to train people to run against Kinzinger. Presler has vowed to travel to congressional districts to inspire candidates to run against any Republican who voted to impeach Trump. Presler said this weekend that another candidate plans to make their announcement soon that they also will run against Kinzinger in the primary.

Kinzinger has served as the congressman in the 16th District since 2013. In that time, he has had a primary challenger three times and won each race, once against Marter in 2018, against David Hale in 2014 and against Donald Manzullo in 2012.

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.