ROCKFORD, Ill. — Republican Adam Kinzinger defeated Democratic challenger Wanda Rohl on Tuesday, opening a big lead in early returns to secure his second term as a U.S. Congressman from Illinois.
With about 99 percent of precincts reporting just after midnight, Kinzinger had garnered 177,621 votes, or 61.8 percent, while Rohl had collected only 109,954 votes, according to unofficial vote totals.
Kinzinger, of Channahon, said it was his district’s desire to see a smaller federal government that led to his victory in the redrawn 16th Congressional District.
“The district really wants to get jobs back, to get spending under control, and explore our domestic resources,” said Kinzinger, who is currently a Congressman in Illinois’ 11th Congressional District. Kinzinger said he saw a lot of Democrats come out to support his candidacy.
Kinzinger, a pilot in the Air National Guard, survived a tough primary in March against fellow Republican incumbent Rep. Don Manzullo of Rockford. Kinzinger and Manzullo were forced to compete after state Democrats redrew the Congressional district boundaries to their advantage in 2011. All of Grundy County is in the new 16th Congressional District, which sweeps in an L-shape from the Wisconsin border to the Indiana border in wrapping around the collar counties.
Rohl, a social worker and a hospice employee from Ottawa, said she initially wanted to get involved because she felt her district was not being represented.
For months, Rohl — who was caucused in as the Democratic candidate after no candidate stepped forward to run in the primary — had tried to paint Kinzinger as more loyal to special interests than the public. Speaking Tuesday, Rohl said she was proud of what she and her team accomplished.
“We weren’t even expecting to get where we are,” said Rohl, noting her fewer resources and manpower.
Kinzinger had a clear fundraising advantage going into Tuesday’s contest, collecting more than $1.9 million as of Monday, according to OpenSecrets.org, the election contribution website maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Rohl, who collected only $34,520 in campaign contributions, said she took no money from outside political action committees. However, Kinzinger and his campaign retorted that she made that pledge only after failing to get money from any political action committees, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
With his victory secured, Kinzinger said he is looking forward to working with both sides of the aisle to get the country back on track.
Rohl left the contest feeling encouraged, and said she will return in 2014.
“We’ll return and we’ll be back,” Rohl said.