Kinzinger allies unveil new push to recruit ‘pro-democracy’ candidates

·2 min read

An organization allied with Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) launched a new, nonpartisan training program on Monday aimed at recruiting “pro-democracy” and “pro-freedom” candidates across the U.S.

Keep Country First Policy Action, an Illinois nonprofit PAC created by Kinzinger, said in a press release its Country First Academy will “identify and train” election workers and candidates running at all levels of government, with a particular focus on state and local offices.

Kinzinger, one of two Republican members of the Jan. 6 House panel investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol, is not running for reelection. He has been a fierce critic of former President Trump and his “Make America Great Again” wing of the GOP, but has also recently slammed Democrats for meddling in GOP primaries to oust moderate Republicans in the House.

In a statement, Keep Country First Executive Director Zach Hunter said it was “time for a new generation of Pro-Freedom, Pro-Democracy leaders to step up and fight the toxic partisanship that has hobbled our institutions and turned neighbors against each other.”

“Country First Academy will identify and train prospective candidates and volunteers who want to put country over party and begin to actually solve problems rather just trying to score political points,” Hunter said.

The Hill has reached out to Kinzinger’s office for comment.

Country First Academy now has a live website and a promotional video on YouTube that shows clips of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol last year in an effort to overturn certification of the 2020 election.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” the video begins, before asking candidates to push back against “talking points that got us here in the first place.”

Trump has taken an active role in this year’s midterms, backing election deniers and seeking out primary opponents for GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach him over the Capitol riots, or defended the results of the 2020 election.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chair of the Jan. 6 panel who faces a difficult primary challenge from a Trump-backed candidate, said in a recent New York Times interview the GOP is “very sick” and “continuing to drive itself in a ditch.”

“I think it’s going to take several cycles if it can be healed,” she said.

Kinzinger, who was among 10 House Republicans that voted to impeach Trump, delivered a passionate speech last month during the congressional hearings probing Jan. 6, calling for Americans to “demand more of our politicians and ourselves.”

“Oaths matter. Character matters. Truth matters. If we do not renew our faith and commitment to these principles, this great experiment of ours, our shining beacon on a hill, will not endure,” he said.

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