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D.C. Memo: Seen as a dispensable relic

Jason Lewis announces U.S. Senate run; Trump uses antisemitic language; Warren visits Minnesota; and more.

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.

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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.

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“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.)

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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.