Kinzinger on possible governor bid: 'I'm the only candidate that can win' against Pritzker

Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerSchumer tees up key Thursday vote on debt deal Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Kevin McCarthy is hostage to the GOP's 'exotic wing' MORE (R-Ill.), one of former President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE’s most vocal Republican critics in Congress, said he sees himself as “the only candidate” capable of defeating Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) in next year's election. 

“If I ran for governor, I think I’m the only candidate that could win, at least that’s out there now,” Kinzinger said in an interview on Crain’s “A.D. Q&A” podcast.

Kinzinger, who was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump earlier this year, announced last month that he will not seek reelection to the House in 2022 after Illinois state lawmakers approved a new congressional map that would effectively eliminate his district. 

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He signaled earlier this month, however, that he would consider a run for either Illinois governor or U.S. Senate next year, telling CNN that a decision could come by January. 

In his interview on “A.D. Q&A,” he offered a sober assessment of the current political environment, noting the pressure Republicans are under to “race to the far right.” Such a tactic, he said, amounted to a losing strategy in a Democratic-leaning state.

He said Republicans would be better served if they focused on courting the suburban voters who have fled the GOP in recent years.

“I don’t know how many times I hear people tell me if you just activate the base, we can win Illinois,” Kinzinger said. “Listen, the base is very activated and we can’t win Illinois unless we win back those suburbs, right? The suburbs that Republicans used to win all the time.”

While Kinzinger didn’t say whether he had made a decision on a gubernatorial run, he acknowledged that he would likely face an uphill battle in a Republican primary, given his status as persona non grata in many GOP circles. 

“I do recognize the difficulty of a primary in this environment, and I recognize that we’re in a moment where I think there are some people that would rather torch their chances at winning the Illinois governor’s race than dare vote for somebody that’s a conservative that doesn’t like Donald Trump.”