Republican Adam Kinzinger defeated Democratic challenger Wanda Rohl on Tuesday, opening a big lead in early returns to secure his second term as an Illinois congressman.
With about 62 percent of precincts reporting, Kinzinger garnered 109,596 votes, or 61.3 percent, while Rohl collected only 69,161, according to unofficial vote totals. Kinzinger, of Channahon, said it was his district’s desire to see a smaller federal government that led to his victory in the 16th Congressional District.
“The district really wants to get jobs back, to get spending under control, and explore our domestic resources,” said Kinzinger, who is currently a congressman in Illinois’ 11th Congressional District. Kinzinger said he saw a lot of Democrats come out to support his candidacy.
Kinzinger, a pilot in the Air National Guard, survived a tough primary in March against fellow Republican incumbent, Rep. Don Manzullo, of Rockford. Kinzinger and Manzullo were forced to compete after state Democrats redrew the congressional district boundaries to their advantage in 2011. The northern and western parts of DeKalb County are in the new 16th Congressional District.
Rohl, a social worker and a hospice employee from Ottawa, said she initially wanted to get involved because she felt her district was not being represented.
For months, Rohl had tried to paint Kinzinger more loyal to special interests than the public. Speaking Tuesday, Rohl said she was proud of what her and her team accomplished.
“We weren’t even expecting to get where we are,” said Rohl, noting her fewer resources and manpower.
Kinzinger had a clear fundraising advantage going into Tuesday’s contest, collecting more than $1.9 million as of Monday, according to OpenSecrets.org, the election contribution website maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Rohl, who collected only $34,520 in campaign contributions, said she took no money from outside political action committees. However, Kinzinger and his campaign retorted that she made that pledge only after failing to get money from any political action committees, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
With his victory secured, Kinzinger said he is looking forward to working with both sides of the aisle to get the country back on track.
Rohl left the contest feeling encouraged, and said she will return in 2014.
“We’ll return and we’ll be back,” Rohl said.