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Kinzinger ousts Manzullo in 16th Congressional District GOP primary

FILE - In this Dec. 19 2011 file phoRep. Adam Kinzinger R-Ill. speaks during news conference Capitol Hill Washington. Kinzinger

FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2011 file photo, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Kinzinger is running against U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo in Illinois' 16th Congressional District in the March 20, 2012 primary. The two sitting congressmen ended up running against each other when Democrats redrew the state's political map, hoping to erase the GOP gains in 2010 that brought Kinzinger and four other freshmen to Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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Updated: April 22, 2012 10:21AM

Declaring his victory “the greatest honor of my life,” freshman U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger ousted veteran congressional colleague U.S. Rep. Donald Manzullo in the 16th District Republican primary

“I will work for you, and I will not answer to these insiders and out-of-touch organizations,” the 34-year-old Kinzinger told supporters late Tuesday after easily defeating the 10-term Manzullo.

Former Congressman Bill Foster pummeled two other Democrats in the 11th Congressional District, setting up a November battle with seven-term U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, who ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

The primary fights occurred after some candidates scrambled to choose in which of the newly drawn suburban districts they would run.

In the only Illinois congressional primary featuring two incumbents, Kinzinger collected about 56 percent of the vote to claim victory over Manzullo, who with all but a few precincts reporting garnered about 44 percent of the vote.

His win is a sign of change, an emotional Kinzinger said as he addressed supporters at the Starved Rock State Park Lodge in Utica.

“Americans are looking for a new generation of leaders who are focused on bettering our country rather than bettering themselves,” Kinzinger said. “This is not my seat in Washington. This seat belongs to the people of the 16th District.”

First elected in 2010, Kinzinger opted to jump from the new 2nd Congressional District to challenge the 67-year-old Manzullo, a Rockford conservative. The new, banana-shaped 16th Congressional District in which they battled grazes the outer Chicago suburbs as it curves from the Wisconsin border to the Indiana state line.

With all but one precinct reporting in the 11th Congressional District, Foster collected 59 percent of the Democratic vote to overwhelm Juan Thomas, an Aurora attorney and minister, and Orland Park Fire District President Jim Hickey.

“I’m feeling good about this,” said Foster, 56, a former Fermilab physicist first elected to Congress in 2008 when U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert retired. “It’s a pretty big change of career to go from being a businessman and scientist to jumping into politics. But it’s an important job.”

Foster was defeated when he ran for re-election in the 14th Congressional District in 2010, then jumped this year into the new 11th Congressional District, which runs from Aurora through the southwest suburbs to Joliet.

His win sets up a November fight with Biggert, a 14-year GOP congressional veteran from Hinsdale who jumped into the new district when her old one was redrawn to force her to run against Democratic incumbent Mike Quigley.

“We’re going to be working hard to reach out to all the voters in this new district,” Foster said.

Biggert, 74, initially was challenged in the Republican primary by Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham, but a court ruled earlier this month that any votes cast for him wouldn’t count because not all his nominating petitions had been properly notarized.

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