Last year, buoyed by unprecedented conservative uprisings, we elected a new Republican majority in the House. The 87 freshmen were often referred to as the “Tea Party Congress.” Unfortunately, it has become clear that not all freshmen were created equal; not all freshmen drink a strong brew of tea. In fact, some members have nothing in common with the Tea Party. Due in large part to redistricting, the 2012 election will pit some sitting members against each other. We must be prepared to sort the conservatives from the insipid Republican types, and take sides in some of these contests.
Perhaps, the most intriguing member-on-member battle is in IL-16, where 20-year veteran Don Manzullo (current IL-16) and freshman Adam Kinzinger (current IL-11) are battling it out over the new district. This is one of those situations where the freshman represents the values of the “old guard,” while the 20-year incumbent has amassed an imperfect, but clearly conservative record.
Adam Kinzinger was elected to the House with much fanfare, but turned out to be a water carrier for leadership. Kinzinger voted against almost every opportunity to cut more spending and was in the tank for leadership whenever they wanted him. He scored a dismal 63% from Heritage Action and 56% from the Club for Growth. If this is how he votes during his first year in office, we can only imagine how much more he’ll deteriorate over time. Adam also recently joined the Republican Mainstreet Partnership, the cabal of liberal and moderate Republicans in Congress.
Don Manzullo, on the other hand, has a consistent track record of voting conservative and standing up to leadership. Manzullo is not perfect, and we must note that he did vote for the debt ceiling deal. But in general, he has stood up to leadership and has an almost perfect consistency over his two decades in Congress. Manzullo was one of only a few dozen Republicans to vote against No Child Left Behind. He has regularly scored in the ’80s on the Club for Growth’s scorecard. He scored an 84% on Heritage Action’s tough scorecard last year.
We could certainly do a lot worse than Manzullo to represent this marginally Republican district. And we undoubtedly will, if we nominate Adam Kinzinger to run for the seat. As such, Don Manzullo is the first incumbent to receive The Madison Project’s endorsement this election cycle.