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: 485230

Reported Deaths: 6554
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1006801585
Ramsey43047801
Dakota36254390
Anoka33274384
Washington22065255
Stearns18723201
St. Louis14794262
Scott13273107
Wright12517115
Olmsted1177988
Sherburne871572
Carver771040
Clay690387
Rice670091
Blue Earth593835
Kandiyohi579474
Crow Wing519681
Chisago498445
Otter Tail481870
Benton446190
Winona418049
Mower404131
Douglas392568
Nobles386847
Goodhue385568
Polk342762
McLeod339349
Beltrami337351
Morrison324247
Lyon313044
Itasca312746
Becker310941
Isanti305754
Carlton300149
Steele299711
Pine282016
Freeborn280523
Nicollet258141
Todd247830
Brown244637
Le Sueur235020
Mille Lacs227247
Cass219924
Waseca208917
Meeker207434
Martin189328
Wabasha18623
Roseau180217
Hubbard160640
Houston157314
Dodge15214
Renville149540
Redwood147027
Fillmore13728
Chippewa136335
Cottonwood134820
Pennington134116
Wadena130920
Faribault122917
Aitkin118933
Sibley117310
Watonwan11728
Rock115714
Kanabec107419
Pipestone101424
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9438
Jackson93510
Swift87918
Pope8025
Marshall77815
Stevens7418
Lake73718
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68316
Wilkin67110
Koochiching61811
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5062
Grant4918
Unassigned47968
Norman4768
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40821
Red Lake3625
Traverse3055
Lake of the Woods2191
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 362189

Reported Deaths: 5414
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58146549
Linn20653312
Scott18288207
Black Hawk16249291
Woodbury14961211
Johnson1383473
Dubuque13537194
Dallas1135890
Pottawattamie10765143
Story1021645
Warren555274
Clinton543284
Cerro Gordo533681
Webster518787
Marshall496272
Sioux494369
Buena Vista473236
Des Moines457661
Muscatine451191
Wapello4330108
Jasper416966
Plymouth394577
Lee375352
Marion359069
Jones294154
Henry292737
Carroll285548
Bremer280154
Crawford274735
Boone259630
Washington254147
Benton252854
Mahaska224346
Jackson221438
Dickinson217439
Tama213465
Kossuth208154
Clay193525
Hamilton192042
Delaware188839
Winneshiek188427
Buchanan185129
Fayette185035
Page183219
Hardin181039
Wright179731
Harrison179669
Cedar177923
Clayton168053
Butler166331
Mills163120
Floyd162740
Madison154518
Cherokee153935
Poweshiek153730
Hancock146829
Lyon145841
Allamakee145646
Iowa144423
Appanoose139147
Grundy139030
Jefferson138232
Winnebago138230
Cass134151
Calhoun133711
Mitchell130840
Louisa128241
Union126331
Chickasaw125213
Sac124218
Emmet121240
Shelby121033
Franklin118419
Humboldt117425
Guthrie116528
Palo Alto104921
Montgomery103936
Howard103121
Clarke100520
Unassigned9890
Keokuk98129
Monroe93128
Adair91928
Ida91032
Pocahontas85519
Davis82623
Monona81627
Greene77310
Lucas73821
Osceola70514
Worth6987
Taylor66412
Fremont5919
Decatur5789
Van Buren55918
Ringgold52020
Wayne48821
Audubon4869
Adams3264
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