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Kinzinger, Jackson Jr. Among Ill. Primary Winners


Mitt Romney won the Illinois Republican primary convincingly yesterday, as we've been reporting elsewhere in the program. Illinois voters were not just voting for presidential candidates, though, there were congressional primaries as well. Redistricting made things very interesting. Two Republican incumbents had to run against one another, and a high-profile Democratic incumbent got a challenge from a former colleague. NPR's David Schaper runs down the results.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Democrats controlled the redistricting process in Illinois and made some Republican incumbents fight for their political lives. Freshman Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger was remapped into a Chicago-based Democratic district, while many of his constituents wound up in a very conservative neighboring district.

Kinzinger decided to follow those voters, even though it meant challenging fellow Republican and 20-year-veteran Don Manzullo. In a classic battle between youth and experience, and over which candidate is more conservative, in the end, the voters chose Kinzinger.


SCHAPER: He calls the Republican primary victory the greatest honor of his life.

CONGRESSMAN ADAM KINZINGER: You know, with the hard work and dedication of our supporters, we were able to knock on over 10,000 doors, tens of thousands of phone calls to our neighbors across the new 16th district to explain why it's time for a new generation of leadership in Washington, D.C.


SCHAPER: Veteran Congressman Don Manzullo took the defeat hard, blaming his loss on a tax from superPACs that called into question his truthfulness.

CONGRESSMAN DON MANZULLO: How do you overcome strangers from outside the district that spend $400,000 to beat the pulp out of you? My favorite was the Pinocchio nose.


SCHAPER: Back in the district, Kinzinger didn't want to run in, Chicago Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. won another Democratic nomination surviving his first real contest since taking office 17 years ago. The newly drawn Jackson district extends much further from Chicago's Southside into the suburbs and beyond, bringing a challenge from former Congresswoman, Debbie Halvorson, who lost her seat to Kinzinger two years ago.

Jackson is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. Halvorson attacked her former Democratic colleague hard, but Jackson prevailed easily.

CONGRESSMAN JESSE JACKSON: We showed people that folks in the second congressional district, urban and suburban, ex-urban and rural, are willing to stand up for progressive principals. And we showed them that even when confronted by the NRA and a Texas superPAC, Illinois families will choose accomplishments over attacks every time.


SCHAPER: In another Illinois race, Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth won the Democratic primary to face Freshman Tea Party favorite, Joe Walsh.

David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Schaper is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, based in Chicago, primarily covering transportation and infrastructure, as well as breaking news in Chicago and the Midwest.