Sparks were flying at a recent debate between the top three candidates running for Texas’ 8th Congressional District: Retired Navy SEAL Morgan Luttrell, retired Navy JAG Jonathan Hullihan, and political operative Christian Collins. With early voting for the GOP primary only days away, the atmosphere was tense.
One of the most heated exchanges of the night centered around Luttrell’s friendship with Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-Il). Kinzinger voted with Donald Trump’s position on legislation 90.2% of the time during his presidency, however, he has angered Trump loyalists for criticizing the former president’s actions after the 2020 election, particularly on January 6.
During a question about the conditions being experienced by January 6 rioters in the D.C. jail, Collins accused Luttrell of being “buddy-buddy” with Kinzinger. “I’ll tell you what: Morgan Luttrell, my opponent, is really good buddies with Adam Kinzinger. It’s not good. We shouldn’t be buddy-buddy with those types of people.”
Luttrell responded that he is indeed friends with Kinzinger, explaining that the two veterans share a bond over their service in the Middle East.
“As for Adam Kinzinger, we are friends,” said Luttrell. “We served together. In war. What he did in the Air Force directly correlated to what I was doing on the ground as a Navy SEAL. He saved my guys’ lives with the information he sent down from what he was doing above, to me. Yeah, he’s my friend, absolutely. And I don’t hate Adam Kinzinger. He didn’t endorse me. He sent me a check- I sent it back. We talked early on when I had no idea what I was doing as far as politically goes and what that narrative looked like. He asked me, ‘how are you doing on funds?’ I said, ‘We’re gaining ground.’ He said, ‘I’m going to send you a check.’ I was like, ‘Great, please do.’ I said that, you need to know that. And when it hit, my campaign team was like, ‘That doesn’t gel here in this campaign space. We can’t do that. So we sent it back. I don’t hate Adam Kinzinger. I’m a practicing Christian, and he’s my friend.”
The moderator gave Hullihan a chance to weigh in, however, he declined.
Collins then doubled down on his criticism of Luttrell’s relationship with Kinzinger. “This is not about who’s our friend,” said Collins.
“The fact is, he asked for the money after Adam Kinzinger voted to impeach Donald Trump. That says something right there. Adam Kinzinger is a traitor to our country and he should not be doing what he’s doing. He’s terrible. My point is he asked for the money and he cashed it. There’s sources on his team that said they begged him not to cash the money, but he did. So he cashed the money, did it anyway, and then after he realized that there were political consequences for it- only then did he give the money back. But it’s important to know that Adam Kinzinger is a very terrible guy, and he still did it right after he voted to impeach Trump. He cashed the check, asked for the money.”
Luttrell responded by saying that although he didn’t agree with Kinzinger’s politics, he did not thing the Illinois congressman is a traitor to the country:
“Everybody is afforded their right to say whatever they want, whether I agree with it or not,’ said Luttrell. “And I don’t agree with anything Adam says politically anymore. But that man is not a traitor to his country. He fought in a war for his country. Did you? No you didn’t. Now how are you going to call that man a traitor when he put his life on the line and left his family to do that. There are so many people on the Democratic side that did that, and the list goes on… But he’s not a traitor. Is it bad for the Republican Party? Yes, absolutely the things that he’s doing, as far as these committees he’s sitting on. I don’t agree with that at all. And yes, at the end of the day, we sent the money back.”