-By Warner Todd Huston
First term Congressman Adam Knizinger (currently of the 11th District) is a victim of the Democrat’s redistricting. Because of redistricting, Kinzinger felt he had to move his race from his current 11th District to the 16th District meaning he is now in the unenviable position of having to primary Don Manzulo, a Republican Congressman of long standing. As a result we have a head-to-head race that is already stirring passions in the central western parts of the Land of Lincoln.
Kinzinger has started his campaign by saying that his is a new conservative voice that shouldn’t be lost to Washington and that Manzulo has been around too long. Naturally, Congressman Manzulo isn’t taking this lying down and has already released a statement saying that his record is more conservative than Kinzinger’s. In his release, Manzulo says that he’s voted 79 more times to cut $209 billion more than has Kinzinger.
A comparison of records is to be expected, of course and Kinzinger has replied in kind. But other flaps and some consternation have come from some Tea Partiers as well as the Conservative Facebook Group started by Zach Oltmanns of Rockford (a city that sts within Manzulo’s District).
The Illinois Conservative Facebook Group (they claim over 2,000 members in the Rockford area as well as some 1,300 on Facebook) recently endorsed Manzulo. This resulted in the Kinzinger campaign telling the media that the group’s pick of Manzulo is sort of to be expected and downplaying the endorsement. Kinzinger also claimed that the group has incorrectly claimed that they had endorsed him in 2010 primary and he says they instead endorsed David McAloon who earned only “9.6 percent of the vote to Kinzinger’s 63.7 percent in the 2010.”
As Oltmanns reports it, Kinzinger’s campaign has said, “it is important to note that that the Illinois Conservatives Facebook Group is run by a 20 year old from Congressman Manzullo’s home county and is not an influential voice within the Republican electorate.”
Oltmanns was not amused by the age slam.
Please note that at the age of 20 Kinzinger was running for county board. I am 21 and running for county board. Also, note that although I am the President of the group my vote in endorsements is no more powerful than the 10 other leadership members. If we are not influential then why has he spend now 3 days attacking us? We did not tell anyone we endorsed Kinzinger in the primary in 2010. We did endorse David McAloon. We tried to endorse him in the general in 2010 but just like most of the tea party groups our numerous calls were not returned by Kinzinger.
Kinzinger is running afoul of some of the more ardent Tea Partiers in the region, too. Chris Arndt sent out an email blast slamming Kinzinger after the Bureau-LaSalle Tea Party meeting. Arendt hinted that Kinzinger scheduled his own townhall meeting on the same date — perhaps purposefully — as the Tea Party meeting at which Manzulo spoke. (Here is a report of Manzulo’s appearance, and another about Kinzinger’s presser that same night.)
During those two competing meetings a Manzulo staffer claims he drove over to the Knizinger event and was denied entry by Kinzinger’s staff. The email also noted that Kinzinger only had 50 people at his meeting while they had 130 at theirs that same night.
I asked Kinzinger about all these charges and his staff sent me a point-for-point reply.
First, we outline our calendars a month in advance. It’s unrealistic to say that both Congressmen cannot be in the same county on the same night. It’s only natural that it would happen and will likely happen many more times throughout the campaign.
As for the LaSalle County Chair’s grandson – It’s my understanding that he attends every single one of their Tea Party meetings. I’m not really sure why it is that he isn’t allowed to ask questions? However, Congressman Manzullo’s staff has been sending paid employees to our meetings. Last night for example, he sent his Lee County coordinator to plant questions. Regardless, Congressman Kinzinger answered his questions both during and after the town hall meeting.
Chris Arndt has strongly opposed Congressman Kinzinger from day one. She endorsed his opponent (David McAloon) in February 2010, which is just fine. However, since Mr. McAloon lost, she has never been fond of Congressman Kinzinger and has continuously spread inaccurate rumors about him. In fact, she called Congressman Kinzinger a traitor to our country because he serves both in Congress and in the military. Chris is known as a bomb thrower by most in Bureau/LaSalle and throws people out of her “open to all” town hall meetings if they are wearing Congressman Kinzinger’s t-shirts.
Lastly, we are certainly not sending out robo calls attacking Congressman Manzullo. In fact, I will attach a copy of the script used to invite folks to Congressman Kinzinger’s town hall meeting.
We had over 100 at our town hall meeting on Tuesday night.
So, as you can see, the 16th District fight is already heating up even this far out from the election. Makes one wonder how much more serious it might get as we near primary day here in Illinois, doesn’t it?