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Freshman Kinzinger unseats 10-term Rep. Manzullo


A freshman congressman unseated a 10-term veteran colleague in a bitter Republican primary in a redrawn Illinois district. 

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R) unseated longtime Rep. Don Manzullo in Illinois's redrawn 16th congressional district. The Associated Press called the race for Kinzinger on Tuesday evening. 

AP, file

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, right, unseated longtime Rep. Don Manzullo, left, in a bitter Republican primary.

The Kinzinger-Manzullo battle was just one of several districts forming the undercard of the day's presidential primary battle between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. (Romney won that race handily.)

But none of those contests were as bitter or high-profile, though, as the battle between the veteran Manzullo and Kinzinger, a 34-year-old Air Force veteran and deputy whip in the House who is seen as a potential rising star in the GOP.

The two Republicans had been drawn into a shared district by Democrats in the state legislature. The new 16th district had been seen as marginally favorable to Manzullo. 

The race had become a generational battle, and took on higher significance after a somewhat unusual endorsement by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the second-ranking Republican in the House, whose super PAC spent $50,000 on advertising against Manzullo.

Cantor’s decision to endorse added a new dimension of bitterness to the primary, prompting Manzullo to ask for the Virginia congressman’s resignation as majority leader.

Democratic leaders were more willing to get involved in another intramural scrape between Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., and former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who was swept out of office by the Republican wave in 2010 after only a single term in office.

Jackson won the contest easily, and the AP called the race for him Tuesday evening.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.,  traveled to Chicago earlier this month to endorse Jackson, who was facing the toughest primary battle of his career from Halvorson. Jackson has served in Congress since 1995 and is the son of the civil rights icon who shares the same name. 

But Jackson has also been forced to address allegations that he or an associate was engaged in an effort to raise campaign contributions for then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, in exchange for an appointment to Obama’s old Senate seat in 2008. Blagojevich was eventually convicted and sent to jail on corruption charges; the House Ethics Committee continues to investigate Jackson. 

Another Democratic favorite with ties to the Obama administration won a primary battle in her bid to challenge firebrand freshman GOP Rep. Joe Walsh in November. 

Tammy Duckworth, a disabled Iraq war veteran who served in the Obama administration as an official in the Department of Veterans Affairs, prevailed over opponent Raja Krishnamoorthi, according to the Associated Press. 

Duckworth, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2006, enjoyed the support of top Democrats including David Axelrod, the Chicago-based senior strategist to President Obama. She'll face Walsh this fall in a new 8th district redrawn in Democrats' favor.

Liberals also suffered a disappointing loss, too, in a Democratic primary in Illinois’s 10th congressional district. Liberal advocacy groups like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee have raised money to promote candidate Ilya Sheyman over businessman Brad Schneider, a more moderate candidate favored by the establishment. 

Schneider was able to hold off Sheyman, though, in the battle to take on freshman Republican Rep. Bob Dold in a competitive suburban Chicago district.