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D.C. Memo: Seen as a dispensable relic

Jason Lewis
Former Rep. Jason Lewis delivering his concession speech in 2018.
The D.C. Memo is a weekly recap of Washington political news, journalism, and opinion, delivered with an eye toward what matters for Minnesota. Sign up to get it in your inbox every Thursday.

Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week in Washington, Congress is still in recess. But in Minnesota, the State Fair (!), where Jason Lewis announced a bid for U.S. Senate, Sen. Bernie Sanders is set to have a Q&A, and you can visit Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s booth.

Jason Lewis is running for Senate

On Thursday morning, former MN-2 Rep. Jason Lewis announced that he will run for Senate in 2020, challenging incumbent Sen. Tina Smith for her seat. Why is he running?

“Private property, religious liberty, due process, the pride of citizenship, the national anthem, the pledge of allegiance, even Betsy Ross’ flag, are now seen as dispensable relics to a radical political movement that appears to be gaining steam in the corridors of power,” Lewis said in his announcement video.


Lewis’ website is currently one page, touting his experience in Congress and his résumé.

Lewis lost his House seat to Rep. Angie Craig by more than five percentage points in 2018. The National Republican Congressional Committee, chaired by Rep. Tom Emmer, announced in February that Lewis’ former district, MN-2, would be a critical race for them this cycle, but it’s unclear who Republicans will field.

Smith won her seat in a special election, 56 percent to 39 percent, against Republican state Sen. Karin Housley in 2018.

Dual loyalty

President Donald Trump at least twice this week charged Americans Jews who vote for Democrats with not being loyal to Israel. “In my opinion, you vote for a Democrat, you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people, and you’re being very disloyal to Israel,” President Trump told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis was criticized for saying: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” in reference to Israel’s influence on the United States. Some groups interpreted this as raising the idea of Jewish dual loyalty, an anstisemitic trope. Trump’s comments far more explicitly say Jewish Americans owe loyalty to Israel.


“A reminder that the Tree of Life synagogue shooter murdered 11 Jews on Shabbos because of their congregation’s social justice work and support for immigrant rights,” said Jewish Community Action Executive Director Carin Mrotz. “The President’s labeling of liberal Jews as disloyal is a validation of this kind of violence. It’s chilling.”

Warren’s visit

Sen. Elizabeth Warren visited St. Paul earlier this week, hosting a town hall for thousands at Macalester College. There, Warren promised significant pushback against Line 3 and Twin Metals, drawing praise from environmental advocates and upsetting Minnesota construction unions. Read more from MinnPost’s Walker Orenstein.

No soil underneath his fingernails

As the trade war between President Trump and the Chinese government continues with no end in sight, groups that represent farmers have taken to the media to again express exasperation and discontent.

“Well, I can tell you the farmers are definitely losing. You know, I know examples already of farmers that couldn’t get their operating loans,” Minnesota Farmers Union Gary Wertish told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on Monday.

“And, you know, it’s very, very disappointing. It’s coming from somebody that’s really never had any soil underneath his fingernails or dirt underneath his fingernails or grease on his hands…to tell us that it’s going to be great in the end, what’s the end going to look like?”

The President next door

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is at the Minnesota State Fair this week. Her campaign will be chatting with fairgoers, and on Thursday, Klobuchar stopped by MPR’s booth to talk agricultural policy and Denmark, among other things. (Speaking of the state fair, are you curious about who runs it? It’s not a mysterious cabal of families. And it’s also not the state government. Read more from MinnPost’s Greta Kaul.)


On Monday, Klobuchar was one of several candidates to attend the first even Native American Presidential forum in Sioux City, Iowa, where she attempted to link her policy proposals to the issues brought up at the forum, emphasizing her efforts to establish nationwide broadband access and improve infrastructure, including on reservations.

News from the rest of the pack

In other news

  • In the Washington Post, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey have a profile of Stephen Miller, “the adviser who scripts Trump’s immigration policy.” Miller is the mastermind and defender of the President’s nativist policies, most recently pushing a policy that would make obtaining citizenship more difficult if immigrants use Medicaid or food stamps.
  • At NBC, Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins have a months long investigative story on The Epoch Times, the Falun Gong-affiliated newspaper that’s been pushing both a pro-Trump agenda and QAnon conspiracy theories.

Quote of the week

“Right by the haunted house, and the pork chop on a stick, and the snake zoo,” Klobuchar told WCCO about the location of her state fair booth.

What I’m reading

The New York Times: 1619 Project

This week, a recommendation to read the 1619 Project, a project to contextualize the founding of the United States, making clear its contradictions — and Black Americans’ resilience in spite of them. The project is a collection of non-fiction and artistic works by prominent Black writers from around the country, including Nikole Hannah-Jones, Eve Ewing and Jamelle Bouie.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. Until next week, feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: gschneider@minnpost.com. Follow at @gabemschneider. And don’t forget to become a MinnPost member.

Comments (19)

  1. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/23/2019 - 09:26 am.

    “Dispensable relic.” I might go for “risible,” but I see the headline was not describing Mr. Lewis.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/23/2019 - 11:15 am.

    At least we won’t have to worry about Smith losing her seat in the next election.

  3. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/23/2019 - 02:03 pm.

    Dispensable relic?

    Man, sometimes the jokes write themselves.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/23/2019 - 03:32 pm.

    I doubt if the local TV stations will be clamoring to sponsor a debate between Tina Smith and Jason Lewis. It would be too risky.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 08/23/2019 - 04:57 pm.

      Lewis was afraid of his constituents and didn’t hold Town Halls.

    • Submitted by Brian Nelson on 08/23/2019 - 05:11 pm.

      Dennis,
      I think you’re right. It will only increase the margin of Sen. Smith’s victory.

      Cheers.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/24/2019 - 02:32 pm.

      I’d be wary of broadcasting a debate with Lewis. He’s on record as thinking he should be able to call women sluts.

      Maybe a podcast would be more appropriate, to protect the young ones’ ears.

  5. Submitted by Mark Gruben on 08/24/2019 - 07:47 am.

    I’m amazed, frankly, that the Republicans would run Jason Lewis for US Senate next year, especially after his having lost the 2018 House race after just a single term – and rather convincingly at that. But Karin Housley declined to run again, and given that Doug Wardlow is considering a run, maybe the idea is to prevent another Wardlow fiasco. Or maybe it’s like I’ve been saying for quite a number of years: the Minnesota Republican cupboard is almost bare, except for a few crumbs and flakes.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/25/2019 - 11:17 am.

      The state legislature is often a good farm team for state wide offices. And since the GOP has had majorities in both the house and senate for a good part of the last decade, one may think they’ve a fairly deep bench.

      Instead, all they’ve got is Kurt Daudt. Who would probably do even worse than Lewis.

      Like the GOP guv candidates in 2018, I have to ask, “Is that all you got?”

  6. Submitted by Susan Maricle on 08/24/2019 - 09:51 am.

    I wish I could be as confident as the other Dems on this thread. Overconfidence is never a good thing. Example: “Donald Trump could never be president.”
    Does Tina Smith have as fervent a following as does Jason Lewis? Smith was chosen as a placeholder. Now that her Senate term is about to end, the candidate should be someone whose supporters are as fervent as Lewis’s. Al Franken.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/24/2019 - 08:24 pm.

      Now a Lewis/Franken debate could be pay-per-view.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/26/2019 - 08:58 am.

        Lewis doesn’t go for real debates. The few times I listened to him on the radio, he distinguished himself by shouting down anyone he disagreed with. If he didn’t do that, it wasn’t a live debate, but instead some little show where he played a recording and threw in pre-written rebuttals.

        I can’t imagine him going live when he doesn’t have control over the microphone.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/25/2019 - 11:15 am.

      Franken had one crisis. One. And he completely biffed it. He displayed no crisis management skills, and apparently his staff had none either.

      Who’s next?

    • Submitted by Brian Simon on 08/25/2019 - 11:59 am.

      Dems should certainly be wary of overconfidence; but I’m also wondering when the Repubs last ran a competitive statewide race. Whenever that was, can Lewis outperform? In a presidential year that is likely to see very strong Dem turnout? While Smith isn’t exactly an inspiring candidate, I still wouldn’t bet on Lewis to beat her.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/25/2019 - 04:06 pm.

        Emmer came close against Dayton in the guv’s race in 2010, 10,000 votes.

        Of course, that was high tide for the Red Side. While things can change quickly, all indications are the the wind will not be at the backs of the GOP in 2020.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/26/2019 - 01:15 pm.

      Does Jason Lewis really have a fervent following? There are some who like him from his radio days, but are they that fervent? Are they enough to tip the election in what is likely to be a less-than-stellar year for Republicans?

  7. Submitted by Susan Maricle on 08/27/2019 - 10:13 am.

    I hope you guys are right. As far as statewide races, Pawlenty won because of his oily charm and Norm Coleman won because of the Wellstone memorial incident. Perhaps a debate would allow Tina Smith the chance to really define who she is.

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