Kinzinger’s relationship with the broader GOP began to show signs of strain in 2016
Adam Kinzinger, the IllinoisRepublican who on Friday announced that he won’t seek re-election to a seventh term in the House of Representatives, is probably now best known for his vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump in the wake of the 6 January attack on the Capitol and his service on the House committee currently investigating that attack.
But the 43-year-old Iraq War veteran – now castigated in pro-Trump circles as a “Republican In Name Only” for moving against the former president – was once considered one of the chamber’s most conservative members and a rising star in the GOP.
Mr Kinzinger first entered elected office in 1998, when at age 20 he won a seat on the McLean County, Illinois county board while studying at Illinois State University.
After resigning his seat in 2003, he joined the United States Air Force with a commission as a second lieutenant. Mr Kinzinger was trained as a pilot and flew KC-135 tankers and later, RC-26 surveillance aircraft during multiple tours in Iraq.
According to Roll Call, Mr Kinzinger’s decision to run for Congress in the 2010 election came after a January 2009 meeting with Illinois Representatives Mark Kirk and Pete Roskam, as well as then-Indiana Representative Mike Pence.
Although he was one of more than 63 Republicans to win seats in the 2010 Tea Party-infused GOP wave and has been a member of the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee, he quickly gained a reputation for bipartisanship while remaining a reliable vote for GOP priorities.
But Mr Kinzinger’s relationship with the broader GOP began to show signs of strain in 2016, when he announced that he would not support then-Republican nominee Donald Trump in that year’s election.
“I’m a Republican because I believe that Republicanism is the best way to defend the United States of America … [Trump] throws all of these Republican principles on their head,” he told CNN just three months before Mr Trump’s shock victory over Hillary Clinton (who Mr Kinzinger did not support either).
Although he voted for GOP-sponsored legislation during Mr Trump’s presidency, his reputation began to change from a conservative with a penchant for bipartisanship to one of a small number of Republicans willing to criticise the sitting GOP president.
After Mr Kinzinger announced that he would not seek re-election, Mr Trump issued a gloating statement taking credit for the decision. But it wasn’t his opposition to the former president that made his continued service in the House untenable – it was Illinois Democrats.
The Illinois state legislature is dominated by Democrats, who have used the post-2020 census redistricting process to eliminate two seats currently represented by Republicans.
Illinois lost a House seat in the 2020 census due to a decrease in population over the last decade, and legislators there used the opportunity presented by the lost seat to eliminate one of the five currently represented by Republicans, leaving one GOP member – Representative Rodney Davis – in a safe seat and leaving Mr Kinzinger and up to three of his colleagues to fight in an intra-party primary next year.