Congressman Adam Kinzinger's plan to restore the GOP is getting its first big test Saturday. A congressional district outside Dallas, Texas, will hold a special election to replace the late Republican congressman Ron Wright, who died in February of COVID. It's a huge field with nearly two dozen candidates running. Former President Trump is endorsing Susan Wright — the congressman's widow — for the seat. Kinzinger is backing Michael Wood, a veteran running on a traditionally conservative and anti-Trump platform.
It's Kinzinger's first election for an endorsement as part of his Country First initiative which the Illinois congressman created after the Jan. 6 insurrection and impeachment. Though Wood is a long shot in this Trump-friendly part of Texas, a surprise showing would be a sign Kinzinger's movement has momentum.
Right now most of the other Republicans in the race are supportive of the former president. But Wood says it's just a matter of time before hindsight changes that perspective. Wood is an outspoken critic not only of the former president but of the party leadership, already saying he wouldn't support current Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for leadership next time around.
Kinzinger is supportive of Wood being so vocal on issues, even ones they disagree on like leaving Afghanistan, because he says what's most important isn't necessarily specific stances on specific issues, but getting back to a party he can be proud of.