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Kinzinger to face Tea Party primary challenge

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 10:27 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 10:28 p.m. CDT

The tea party has taken on Republicans before – and won.

Their latest target: Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon. 

On Tuesday, David Hale, founder of the Rockford Tea Party, announced he is running in next March’s GOP primary against Kinzinger, who has been in Congress since 2011. 

Over the past week, Kinzinger has made a number of national TV appearances backing President Barack Obama’s call for military action in Syria. The Air Force veteran said he has offered to help Obama make the case.

It was Kinzinger’s position on Syria that prompted Hale to enter the race. 

“When a majority of the people in the 16th District call our representative and say no to something as serious as this ill-conceived Syrian war, then it is time to step back and reanalyze their original assumptions about my opponent,” Hale, 50, said in a news release. “Our 16th District congressman shouldn’t embrace the poor judgment of the president and House leadership to pursue their political favor for doing so.”

Hale, a U.S. Army veteran, said he supported President George W. Bush’s decision to go into Iraq in 2003, but that happened after months of diplomacy reached an international consensus. 

“And even after all that, it was proven to be bad choice,” he said in the release. “How can we make a well-reasoned decision on a Syrian war, after a mere few weeks and rationally expect the desired outcome?”

Hale said Kinzinger refuses to defund Obamacare, but has voted to repeal the health care legislation more than 30 times.

“They can vote until the cows come home that they want to repeal Obamacare, but the Senate won’t go along,” Hale said. “It’s window dressing, a feel-good vote to make them look like they’re heroes. They’re not doing anything.”

Instead, he said, the House could keep Obamacare money out of the continuing budget resolutions that have been funding the federal government in recent years. 

Kinzinger’s spokesman, Zach Hunter, declined to comment. Kinzinger himself won a Republican primary against Don Manzullo in 2012. The 16th District includes much of DeKalb County, including the cities of DeKalb and Genoa.

Hale has 8 years of experience as an emergency room nurse and is now a nurse informatist, a job that integrates nursing with management of information and communication technologies. 

He founded the Rockford Tea Party in 2009 and helped organize the petition drive for the Winnebago County Board to pass a concealed carry ordinance, collecting 11,000 signatures. The board ultimately rejected the ordinance. 

Amanda Norris, president of the Sauk Valley Tea Party, said she welcomed opponents of Kinzinger, whom she called a “real disappointment.”

“He [Hale] is very passionate and strong-willed. Sometimes that works against you in the political sphere. He’s on the right side of issues,” Norris said. 

As an incumbent with nearly $500,000 in his campaign coffers, Kinzinger is the favorite to win. 

“The money is an advantage,” Hale said. “I don’t pretend that I’m a formidable candidate as far as publicity and money goes, When it comes to ideas and when it comes to how government works, I’m head and shoulders above Adam Kinzinger.”

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