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Citizens group seeks challenger for Kinzinger

DEKALB – A citizens group hopes to select a candidate to face U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger in the 16th Congressional District race during a convention planned for this weekend.

Kinzinger, R-Manteno, beat Don Manzullo, R-Egan, in the March 20 Republican primary. No Democratic or independent candidates ran during the primary election, but political parties have until June 4 to caucus in candidates. The general election is Nov. 6.

The citizens convention is scheduled for Saturday, and organizers aim to select a Democrat or independent candidate to challenge the sole 16th District candidate.

DeKalb resident Dan Kenney, one of the organizers, hopes a candidate will be selected by the end of Saturday’s convention. He encourages anyone who is interested in running to attend, and the convention is open to the public. If a candidate is selected Saturday, he could either get the Democratic Party’s nod or run as an independent, Kenney said.

“We were concerned with the Democratic Party coming up with a candidate,” he said. “We want to ensure that there are two choices for representation.”

He said the event is a chance for those in the newly-drawn district to gather and discuss issues.

County Democratic leaders from the 16th District have been invited to attend, Kenney said.

Another convention organizer, Wanda Rohl of Ottawa, plans to make a bid for a spot on the ballot. She believes Republicans, including Kinzinger, have moved too far to the right.

“We don’t feel he represents our voices,” she said.

Kenney said the convention will provide a start to a grassroots effort to unseat Kinzinger. He said the counties in Kinzinger’s district have seen some of the highest unemployment rates in the state. He’s also concerned about Kinzinger bowing to special-interest groups after accepting campaign donations from those at the top of the income bracket, such as Koch Industries.

Kinzinger declined to comment.

Rohl has never run for public office, but she wants to protect the social safety net she depended on after an accident left her as a paraplegic nine years ago. She said Republicans have dissected social services.

“My personal experience is that we need to invest in people and not leave them to their own devices,” she said.

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