Republican launches Minnesota Senate bid, slams 'resistance'

Republican and former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis announces his run for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019 at the State Fair in Falcon Heights, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Republican Jason Lewis jumped into Minnesota's Senate race Thursday, using a YouTube video and State Fair appearance to make it clear that he'll try to tie Democratic incumbent Tina Smith to the state's freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar and the so-called resistance to President Donald Trump.

Posted: Aug 22, 2019 12:49 PM

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (AP) — Republican Jason Lewis jumped into Minnesota's Senate race Thursday, using a YouTube video and State Fair appearance to make it clear that he'll try to tie Democratic incumbent Tina Smith to the state's freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar and the so-called resistance to President Donald Trump.

Lewis, a former conservative talk radio host who lost his House re-election bid in 2018, declared that he's all in for Trump as he went hard at the nation's current political and cultural divisions. He portrayed Omar and other members of the "squad" of four liberal House newcomers — all women of color whom Trump has labeled as the face of the Democratic Party — as a threat to Americans' right to life, liberty and property.

"The state of Minnesota is not interested in following the 'squad' off the rails," Lewis said. "They're interested in keeping our prosperity going, keeping our Constitution intact and making certain that all of you have a future."

Lewis repeatedly attacked the "squad" but mentioned them by name only once in his speech. However, he pointedly singled out Omar in a YouTube video posted shortly before his speech.

"Indeed, the so-called resistance, led by our own Ilhan Omar, with Tina Smith marching in lockstep, seem unaware of our founders' genius in the Constitution," Lewis said in in the video. "Instead, they want to debate whether we ought to even keep it."

State and national Democrats rushed to attack Lewis. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said Lewis will "have to explain the disgusting comments surfaced from his right-wing radio days attacking and disparaging women, minorities, the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities."

He once asked on the air, "Are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can't call her a slut?" And he once mused: "Call me a Neanderthal ... but we've rushed to this judgment that growing up with two mommies is a wonderful experience. I don't know, maybe it's not so wonderful."

Lewis, who styled himself as "Mr. Right," narrowly won election to a suburban-rural congressional seat in 2016 over Democrat Angie Craig, by less than 2 percentage points in a year when Trump carried the district by just over 1 point. In their 2018 rematch, Craig ousted Lewis by nearly 6 points amid a suburban surge for Democrats across the country that flipped the House to Democratic control.

While Lewis' "two mommies" was offensive to Craig, a married lesbian mother of four sons, she made relatively little mention of it during the 2018 campaign, when she kept her focus on health care and Lewis's strong support for Trump.

Lewis spoke in front of a sign in the Minnesota GOP booth at the State Fair that read: "Trump 2020. Keep America Great." He said the Trump campaign is "dead serious" about trying to win Minnesota in 2020, noting that Trump came within about 44,000 votes of doing so in 2016. Lewis said he and Trump will use a similar geographic strategy.

Lewis told reporters he intends to "outperform" in greater Minnesota — the portion outside the Twin Cities area — which he noted has been trending increasingly Republican in recent elections. He said that will offset Democratic strength in the cities and suburbs. And he said a key to that will be northeastern Minnesota, including the once reliably Democratic Iron Range, where Lewis predicted issues such as mining, oil pipelines and logging will give Republicans the advantage.

Smith was lieutenant governor when she was appointed to the seat in January 2018 after Democrat Al Franken resigned over sexual misconduct allegations. She retained the seat in a special election that November and is now running for her own six-year term.

Smith, who also campaigned at the State Fair as it opened Thursday, said she'll highlight their differences.

"Jason Lewis supported the Republican tax bill that gave giant tax cuts to big corporations and the richest among us, and I wouldn't have supported that," Smith told Minnesota Public Radio. "He voted to repeal the basic consumer protections that are in the Affordable Care Act. I'm opposed to that. So there are big differences. But ... right now I've got 15 months to focus on being the very best senator that I can be and really fighting for Minnesotans, and that's where my heart and mind is right now."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 591445

Reported Deaths: 7367
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1224421730
Ramsey51212875
Dakota45791452
Anoka41604438
Washington26834283
Stearns22196222
St. Louis17734303
Scott17244124
Wright16009139
Olmsted1322598
Sherburne1167187
Carver1047545
Clay814492
Rice8037107
Blue Earth749641
Crow Wing663189
Kandiyohi654283
Chisago596651
Otter Tail574078
Benton568297
Goodhue477272
Douglas466375
Mower464832
Winona453950
Itasca435556
McLeod422559
Isanti419664
Morrison418260
Nobles407648
Beltrami394459
Steele386715
Polk383568
Becker379751
Lyon360251
Carlton345054
Freeborn341529
Pine327822
Nicollet325643
Brown305040
Mille Lacs303253
Le Sueur290922
Todd281632
Cass271328
Meeker255740
Waseca235922
Martin230531
Roseau209019
Wabasha20513
Hubbard188341
Dodge18453
Renville179743
Redwood174037
Houston171616
Cottonwood164821
Fillmore155910
Wadena155922
Pennington153619
Chippewa152138
Faribault152119
Kanabec144326
Sibley143110
Aitkin134736
Watonwan13219
Rock128119
Jackson121712
Pipestone115426
Yellow Medicine114120
Pope11006
Murray10619
Swift105218
Stevens90411
Marshall88117
Clearwater86616
Koochiching82715
Wilkin81112
Lake80919
Lac qui Parle75222
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5748
Mahnomen5469
Norman5399
Unassigned48993
Kittson48622
Red Lake3957
Traverse3695
Lake of the Woods3243
Cook1620

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 366827

Reported Deaths: 5937
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57596625
Linn20845335
Scott20025241
Black Hawk15803308
Woodbury15128228
Johnson1447483
Dubuque13368208
Dallas1117898
Pottawattamie11113168
Story1061248
Warren577088
Clinton555593
Cerro Gordo539789
Sioux514474
Webster512393
Marshall482975
Muscatine480799
Des Moines455766
Wapello4299122
Buena Vista424540
Jasper418872
Plymouth401180
Lee375755
Marion362575
Jones298957
Henry291637
Carroll285752
Bremer284360
Crawford266440
Boone264534
Benton256455
Washington254150
Dickinson248343
Mahaska230351
Jackson221742
Clay215525
Kossuth215364
Delaware209541
Tama209571
Winneshiek196834
Page192622
Buchanan191232
Cedar190023
Hardin185243
Fayette185041
Wright184637
Hamilton179849
Harrison179573
Clayton169456
Butler164934
Mills162322
Madison162219
Floyd160542
Cherokee158738
Lyon157941
Poweshiek154734
Allamakee151551
Iowa148724
Hancock147834
Winnebago142431
Cass138554
Calhoun138413
Grundy136333
Emmet134140
Jefferson132335
Shelby131037
Sac130319
Union128333
Louisa128049
Appanoose127949
Mitchell126342
Chickasaw124015
Guthrie121530
Franklin120021
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112723
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100124
Unassigned9710
Keokuk95831
Monroe95229
Ida90535
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis82924
Monona82830
Osceola78616
Greene77610
Lucas77323
Worth7478
Taylor65812
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Van Buren55818
Ringgold55624
Wayne53923
Audubon51010
Adams3384
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