Eric Cantor-Backed House Freshman Beats Opposing 10-Term Incumbent in Primary

Rep. Adam Kinzinger

WSJ Reports: Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s defeat of fellow Republican Don Manzullo in a hard-fought Illinois primary Tuesday was a win for Majority Leader Eric Cantor. But it hardly puts to rest the possibility of similar battles as the Republican primaries unfold in coming months.

Mr. Kinzinger, a freshman, is a rising star in the House GOP, and he was endorsed by Mr. Cantor—a highly unusual decision by a party leader to back one incumbent against another. The two Illinois Republicans were forced to run each other because of a redistricting map draw by the Democrats who dominate the state’s government.

Mr. Manzullo, a 10-term incumbent, was backed by conservative groups who felt Mr. Kinzinger had strayed from the conservative path after being enthusiastically backed by such groups in 2010. The race was closely watched as a test of strength between the Republican leadership and tea party-allied groups.

Mr. Kinzinger, 33, framed the race as more of a generational contest, saying both he and Mr. Manzullo, 67, were highly conservative, but that he represented a fresh face. Mr. Manzullo blasted Mr. Cantor for his involvement, even calling on him to resign.

It’s unclear what impact the Kinzinger-Manzullo race will have on the remaining Republican primaries. It’s unlikely to be the last time a race shapes up with an establishment-backed candidate taking on an individual favored by conservative activists. But Mr. Cantor is not likely to regularly get involved in such a high-profile way.

One conservative group, is trying to make sure he doesn’t. The Club For Growth Wednesday sent a letter to Mr. Cantor, as well as House speaker John Boehner and Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, warning them against getting involved in primaries.

03/21/2012 2:09 PM by JPUpdates Staff

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