Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) plans to stay in the GOP despite facing harsh criticism from within the caucus for agreeing to serve on the panel investigating Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.
“Look, I am a Republican at heart, right? I was a Republican way before Donald Trump, since I was six years old,” Kinzinger said during an appearance on CNN on Wednesday night.
“I believe in the values I’m fighting for and I believe a party with such a great, rich history deserves to have people, even if it’s only a couple of us at the moment, in there to fight for the soul of it. So I’m going to fight hard for that,” he added.
Kinzinger and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who both have openly shown a strong dislike of Trump, are the only Republicans on the Jan. 6 panel, which was formed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Pelosi rejected two of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) picks for committee members, prompting McCarthy to withdraw all five.
Pelosi then asked Kinzinger to join, which he agreed to. Cheney opted to serve as a member after being asked earlier by Pelosi.
Republican leaders have increasingly vocalized discontent with the pair, who appear out of step with the majority of their caucus.
McCarthy dubbed Kinzinger and Cheney “Pelosi Republicans” while speaking to reporters outside the White House this week. Other members have taken to television or social media to denounce them. And the House Freedom Caucus held a press conference Thursday calling for a resolution that would expel Kinzinger and Cheney from the GOP conference.
While meeting as a caucus, Republicans discuss strategy, policy, and advancing the GOP platform, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) told reporters in Washington.
“It was antithetical to have sitting in your conference individuals who have professed that they want to take out the minority leader, and that they want to go join the Democrats on a witch hunt through the Republican Party to try to take members of the Republican Party out. It would be antithetical to invite somebody in to hear you strategize how you will respond to something like that when they’re sitting on that committee,” Biggs said.
Cheney has also vowed to remain a Republican.
Both face primary challenges. Cheney faces eight challengers, including attorney Darin Smith and state Sen. Anthony Bouchard. Many of them have professed support for former President Donald Trump.
Catalina Lauf, a former aide to Trump, is taking on Kinzinger in Illinois. She received an endorsement from Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) on Wednesday.
Trump won the Illinois 16th Congressional District in 2016 and 2020, Lauf noted on Newsmax this week.
Kinzinger beat Democrat Dani Brzozowski last year, but did not face a primary challenger. He beat James Marther in the 2018 primary before winning the general election.
“Adam has shown nothing but contempt for Republican voters, his base, his constituency. He’s a never-Trumper, which is why he wanted to be on this commission,” Lauf said.