A contentious Republican primary race for 16th Congressional District candidates ended Tuesday after voters selected U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger as the party’s nominee on the November ballot.
With 99 percent of the 689 precincts in the district reporting as of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Kinzinger had 43,653 votes to U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo's 34,460, according to The Associated Press. Even without all precincts reporting, the AP called the race for Kinzinger about 10 p.m. Tuesday.
Kinzinger said the victory was "reaffirming" to him, and shows that a new generation of leaders is what people want in government.
"It was a good night," Kinzinger said about midnight, during a phone interview. "I never expected the lead would be as big as it was. To see that, it was almost surreal."
Both men already are in Congress, but they have been pitted against each other because of a new congressional map, which was required after the census. There are 14 counties in the district: Boone, Bureau, DeKalb, Ford, Grundy, Iroquois, La Salle, Lee, Livingston, Ogle, Putnam, Stark, Will and Winnebago.
Kinzinger, 34, R-Manteno, received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Illinois State University and serves as a pilot for the U.S. Air Force. He was elected in November 2010 to represent the 11th Congressional District after serving five years on the McLean County Board.
Before all votes had been counted, Manzullo was still holding out hope the thousands of votes that had yet to be counted would lean in his favor.
“It’s been very, very slow,” he said.
Manzullo, 67, R-Egan, received a bachelor’s degree in public administration from American University and a juris doctor from Marquette University. He has served in Congress for almost 20 years and worked as a lawyer specializing in agriculture, manufacturing and small-business law prior to taking office.
Manzullo campaigned on job creation, particularly in the manufacturing sector. His 10-point jobs plan includes suggestions such as tax code reform, better export control policies that would allow U.S. companies to sell more products overseas, energy independence and eliminating government regulations that stifle job growth.
Kinzinger also campaigned heavily on job creation, with a focus on creating jobs at the small-business level. He called for simplifying the tax code and reforming regulations to make it easier for small-business owners to create new positions.
Both were in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act and called for legislation that would allow insurance companies to sell health insurance across state lines.
Kinzinger thanked his supporters, and said he will "spend the next couple of years in office earning that support back." For those who didn't vote for him, he said it is "time to come together and heal," and focus on making sure the federal government isn't driven into more debt.
The general election is Nov. 6. There is no Democratic challenger awaiting Kinzinger, but political parties have until June 4 to caucus in candidates.