Adam Daniel Kinzinger (/ˈkɪnzɪŋər/; born February 27, 1978) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Illinois’s 16th congressional district. The district covers eastern Rockford, most of Rockford’s suburbs, and a swath of exurban territory around Chicago. He is a member of the Republican Party.

Kinzinger was first elected to Congress in 2010 from the 11th district. His district was largely merged with the 16th after the 2010 census, and Kinzinger transferred to the 16th after defeating its incumbent, Don Manzullo, in the Republican primary.

Early life, education, and early political career

Adam Kinzinger was born on February 27, 1978, in Kankakee, Illinois, the son of Betty Jo, an elementary school teacher, and Rus Kinzinger, a CEO of faith-based organizations. After spending part of his youth in Jacksonville, Florida, he was primarily raised in Bloomington, Illinois. He graduated from Normal Community West High School in 1996 and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Illinois State University in 2000.

In 1998, while a student at Illinois State, Kinzinger ran for election as a County Board member in McLean County, Illinois. He won, at age 20, and was one of the youngest serving county board members in McLean County history, defeating an incumbent County Board member. Kinzinger remained on the Board until his resignation in 2003.

Kinzinger worked as an intern for former U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald shortly after his graduation from Illinois State, as part of a program offered there.

Military service

Adam Kinzinger

Kinzinger piloting a Boeing KC-135 StratoTanker during his service with the United States Air Force.

Kinzinger resigned from the McLean County Board in 2003 to join the United States Air Force. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in November 2003 and later awarded his pilot wings. Kinzinger was initially a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot and flew missions in South America, Guam, Iraq and Afghanistan. He later switched to flying the RC-26 surveillance aircraft and was stationed in Iraq twice.

Kinzinger has served in the Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command, and Wisconsin Air National Guard and was progressively promoted to his current rank of Lieutenant Colonel. As part of his continued service with the Air National Guard, Kinzinger was deployed to the Mexico–United States border in February 2019 as part of efforts to maintain border security.

U.S. House of Representatives

Elections

2010

Kinzinger met Republican U.S. Congressmen Mike Pence, Mark Kirk, and Peter Roskam in January 2009 to discuss a possible run for Congress. Kinzinger decided to run in Illinois’ 11th congressional district, held by Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson. He started campaigning full-time in May 2009, when he returned home from his 3rd tour in Iraq. He was endorsed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Kinzinger won the five-candidate Republican primary on February 2, 2010 with 64% of the vote.

He was endorsed by the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times in the general election. Kinzinger defeated Halvorson 57%–43% on November 2, 2010.

2012

Kinzinger (Second, from right) at the Halifax International Security Forum.

During his first term, Kinzinger represented a district that stretched from the outer southern suburbs of Chicago to Bloomington/Normal.

After redistricting, Kinzinger’s district was eliminated. Much of its eastern portion, including Kinzinger’s home in Channahon, near Joliet, was merged with the Rockford-based 16th District, represented by fellow Republican Don Manzullo, a 67-year-old politician first elected in 1992. Prior to redistricting, Kinzinger had represented 31% of the newly apportioned district, while Manzullo had represented at least 44% of the district. In the March Republican primary, Kinzinger defeated Manzullo, 56%–44%. In the general election, Kinzinger defeated Democrat Wanda Rohl, 62%–38%.

Eric Cantor helped Kinzinger, who was a rising Republican star, topple Manzullo in the Illinois primary.

2014

Kinzinger was targeted by the Club for Growth in 2014. In the Republican primary, he faced David Hale, a nurse and founder of the Rockford Tea Party. Kinzinger won with 78% of the vote.

In the general election, Kinzinger faced Democratic nominee Randall Olsen; he won with 71% of the vote.

2016

Kinzinger with U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman and Representative Mike Pompeo.

Kinzinger won the March 2016 Republican primary with 100% of the vote. No candidates filed for the Democratic primary for his seat.

Kinzinger announced publicly that he would not support GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump on August 3, 2016. “I’m an American before I’m a Republican,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, adding that “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.” Kinzinger noted, however, that he also would not support Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and was mulling other options.

Kinzinger introduced the U.S. House version of the bipartisan bill Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act. The United States Senate version was written in March 2016 by U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Rob Portman. After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, worries grew that Russian propaganda spread and organized by the Russian government swayed the outcome of the election, and representatives in the U.S. Congress took action to safeguard the National security of the United States by advancing legislation to monitor incoming propaganda from external threats. On November 30, 2016, legislators approved a measure within the National Defense Authorization Act to ask the U.S. State Department to take action against foreign propaganda through an interagency panel. The legislation authorized funding of $160 million over a two-year-period. The initiative was developed through the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act.

2018

Kinzinger defeated Democratic challenger Sara Dady with 59.1 percent of the vote. After the 2018 midterm elections, which saw all of the Republican congressmen representing the Chicago area defeated, he was left as the only Republican representing a significant part of northern Illinois in Congress.

2020

Kinzinger defeated Democrat Dani Brzozowski in the 2020 election with 65% of the vote.

Tenure

Kinzinger speaking at Hudson Institute.

In 2010 Kinzinger signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any global warming legislation that would raise taxes.

Kinzinger sponsored the Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act of 2013. The legislation, which would make it easier for veterans with emergency medical technician training in the military to get civilian licenses to perform the same job outside of the military, passed the House of Representatives by a voice vote but was not voted upon by the Senate.

On June 5, 2014, Kinzinger introduced a bill (H.R. 4801; 113th Congress) which would require the United States Secretary of Energy to prepare a report on the effects that thermal insulation has on both energy consumption and systems for providing potable water in federal buildings. Kinzinger argued that “with the federal government being the single largest consumer of energy in the country, doing our best to maximize the potential savings from improved insulation systems is a commonsense step I think everybody can agree on.”

Kinzinger is a member of both the Republican Study Committee and the Republican Main Street Partnership.

Kinzinger visits the Disaster Recovery Center in Marseilles, Illinois.

Conservative Review gave Kinzinger’s voting record a “Liberty Score” 35%, while the American Conservative Union (ACU) gave Kinzinger a Lifetime Rating of 59.60 out of 100. Kinzinger was ranked as the 40th most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives during the 114th United States Congress (and the third most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois) in the Bipartisan Index created by The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy that ranks members of the United States Congress by their degree of bipartisanship (by measuring the frequency each member’s bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party and each member’s co-sponsorship of bills by members of the opposite party).

Kinzinger voted in favor of the 2017 Republican health care legislation, which would have repealed major parts of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Kinzinger voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Kinzinger faced criticism from some Asian American leaders for blaming China for the pandemic at a time that anti-AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) hate crimes and coronavirus-related discrimination are rising. Kinzinger authored and retweeted many tweets singling out China for blame. One such tweet was “Daily reminder: You are in your homes because #Chinahidthevirus.”

On February 4, 2021, Kinzinger joined 10 other Republican House members voting with all voting Democrats to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her House Education and Labor Committee, and House Budget Committee assignments in response to controversial political statements she had made.

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Energy and Commerce
    • Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
    • Subcommittee on Energy
  • Committee on Foreign Affairs
    • Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism
    • Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment (Ranking Member)

Caucus memberships

  • Congressional Cement Caucus
  • House Baltic Caucus
  • Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus
  • United States Congressional International Conservation Caucus
  • Climate Solutions Caucus
  • Tuesday Group
  • Republican Main Street Partnership

Political positions

Domestic issues

Gun law

Kinzinger is in favor of allowing concealed carry of firearms across state lines where concealed carry is legal.

Health care

Kinzinger supports the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Economic issues

Kinzinger opposes the Dodd–Frank Act.

Kinzinger has a 94% lifetime rating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business-oriented right wing advocacy group but only a 49% lifetime rating from the Club for Growth, another conservative group which advocates for cutting taxes and other economic issues which benefit ultra high net worth individuals.

International issues

Iran

On Twitter, Kinzinger praised Donald Trump’s decision to kill Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani, Commander of the Quds Force, the third most powerful person in Iran. Reacting to news of the assassination, Kinzinger tweeted, “Mess with the bull, get the horns. If true, nice call, @realdonaldtrump.” He continued Tweeting, saying “killed a man responsible for thousands of deaths in #Syria and elsewhere, including Americans. Let’s see how long the #blameAmerica left takes to make him a poor victim.”

Immigration

Kinzinger supports penalizing sanctuary cities.

Social issues

Abortion

Kinzinger opposes late term abortion and the use of federal funds for abortion or health coverage that funds abortion.

Cannabis

Kinzinger has a “C-” rating from NORML for his voting history regarding cannabis-related causes. Kinzinger supported veterans having access to medical marijuana if recommended by their Veterans Health Administration doctor if medical marijuana is legal in their states of residence. He opposed a bill to remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act.

LGBTQ rights

Kinzinger voted against the Equality Act.

Kinzinger has an 11% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ rights advocacy group in the United States.

Criticism of Donald Trump

Kinzinger voted in line with President Donald Trump about 90% of the time and voted against Trump’s first impeachment, but he subsequently became a critic of Trump and made headlines as a rare Republican office holder willing to criticize him. In summer 2020, Kinzinger denounced QAnon and other baseless conspiracy theories that gained currency among small proportions of far-right Republican voters.

After the 2020 presidential election, in which Trump was defeated by Joe Biden, Kinzinger denounced Trump’s false claims that the election was “stolen” and criticized Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. In December 2020, after Trump repeated his baseless claims of fraud on Twitter, Kinzinger tweeted that it was time for Trump to delete his Twitter account. He also criticized the Texas Republican Party, and called for the firing of its chairman Allen West, when the party floated the idea of secession, after the Supreme Court rejected Texas v. Pennsylvania, a bid by the state of Texas to overturn the presidential election outcome.

On January 7, 2021, the day after the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob, Kinzinger became the first Republican member of the House to call for Trump’s removal from office via the 25th Amendment. In a video message, Kinzinger said that Trump had “abdicated his duty to protect the American people and the people’s house,” and his behavior made it clear that he had become “unmoored” from both his duties as president and “reality itself.” He urged Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, saying that Trump was “unfit” and “unwell.” Five days later, Kinzinger announced that he would vote in favor of the Trump’s second impeachment. He stated that there was “no doubt” that Trump “broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection.” He also accused Trump of using the power of his office to launch a direct attack on Congress. He asked, “If these actions–the Article II branch inciting a deadly insurrection against the Article I branch–are not worthy of impeachment, then what is an impeachable offense?” On January 13, he joined nine other Republicans in voting for impeachment. In response, some Republicans have vowed to support a primary challenge to Kinzinger. Kinzinger received a letter from eleven members of his family asserting he had joined “the devil’s army” for publicly turning against Trump. Kinzinger said the family members suffer from “brainwashing” from conservative churches that led them astray.

Country First PAC

In early 2021, a few weeks after the 2021 Capitol riot, Kinzinger launched the Country First PAC, as a means to reform the Republican Party and distance itself from far-right conspiracies, including QAnon.

Electoral history

Illinois 16th Congressional District General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Adam Kinzinger 181,789 61.81
Democratic Wanda Rohl 112,301 38.19
Total votes 294,090 100.0
Illinois 16th Congressional District Republican Primary, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Adam Kinzinger (incumbent) 56,593 78.44
Republican David J. Hale, Jr. 15,558 21.56
Total votes 72,151 100.0
Illinois 16th Congressional District Republican Primary, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Adam Kinzinger (incumbent) 101,421 100.0
Republican Colin M. McGroarty 2 0.00
Total votes 101,423 100.0

Personal life

The Wisconsin Red Cross named Kinzinger its 2006 “Hero of the Year” for wrestling a knife-wielding man to the ground and disarming him. The man had cut the throat of a woman on a street in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Recalling the event in an interview, Kinzinger said “The whole time it was, to me, kind of a done deal that I was going to get stabbed in the process, but I knew that this wasn’t something I could wake up to … every day with that memory that I watched her die.” The woman survived. For this act Kinzinger also received the United States Air Force Airman’s Medal and the National Guard’s Valley Forge Cross for Heroism.

Kinzinger was ranked 5th on The Hill’s 2011 annual “50 Most Beautiful People” list, which ranks anyone who regularly works on Capitol Hill.

Kinzinger was engaged to Air Force Captain Riki Meyers, a fellow pilot, in 2011; they broke their engagement in 2012. Kinzinger became engaged to Sofia Boza-Holman, a former aide to John Boehner and aide to Vice President Mike Pence, in June 2019. They were married on February 16, 2020.

  • Congressman Adam Kinzinger official U.S. House website
  • Adam Kinzinger for Congress
  • Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Profile at Vote Smart
  • Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
  • Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Debbie Halvorson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois’s 11th congressional district

2011–2013
Succeeded by
Bill Foster
Preceded by
Don Manzullo
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois’s 16th congressional district

2013–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Kelly
United States Representatives by seniority
147th
Succeeded by
Billy Long