Kinzinger, a 34-year-old Air Force veteran, swept into Congress with the conservative wave of 2010 but never fully embraced the tea party. While Manzullo mustered tea party support against him, Kinzinger countered with his own GOP bona fides and insisted that his fresh face and energy would better serve the district. Kinzinger is all but assured of a return to Congress; no Democrats filed to run in the 16th District.
Despite Kinzinger's victory, Cantor's decision to back him upset some
GOP House members, and it could ruffle more feathers if Kinzinger's success spurs Cantor and the rest of the GOP leadership to continue taking sides in the remaining GOP merged seat primaries this cycle.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions
, who remained neutral in the race, congratulated Kinzinger on his victory and praised Manzullo's service in the House.
"I congratulate Adam Kinzinger on his primary victory tonight as he transitions to the next step towards a successful general election campaign," Sessions said in a statement. "As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Adam has proven to be committed to an 'all the above' approach to end the Democrats' war on energy and their assault on the free enterprise system."
"Don Manzullo has been a principled conservative leader in Congress, and House Republicans appreciate his efforts to strengthen U.S. manufacturing and end wasteful spending that has expanded government's overreach into our everyday lives," he continued. "I wish Don, his wife Freda, and their children all the best in the days and years ahead."