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Minnesota GOP endorses Jason Lewis for Senate

Jason Lewis
Screen shot
Republican candidate Jason Lewis speaking to the MNGOP convention, asking for their endorsement.

Former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis was endorsed by the Minnesota Republican Party this weekend for the U.S. Senate race, setting him up for a contest with DFLer Sen. Tina Smith in November.

Prior to running for Senate, Lewis represented Minnesota’s Second District from 2017 to 2019. Before that, Lewis was a nationally syndicated radio host, a platform he used to make homophobic and racist remarks, including comparing gay people to rapists and saying black people have “entitlement mentality.” Lewis lost his House seat to Democratic Rep. Angie Craig in 2018 by more than five percentage points.

Lewis won his endorsement with 1,066 votes, or about 72 percent of convention delegates, on the first round of voting, easily defeating opponents Rob Barrett Jr. and Forest Hyatt.

Before the vote, Lewis received ringing endorsements from Republican leaders around Minnesota.  “Jason Lewis is a great conservative and he’s already done so much with President Trump and other conservatives to make America great again,” said First District Rep. Jim Hagedorn. “Young voters are really excited about Jason Lewis because we’re confident that he’ll fight for our generations’ futures,” said Minnesota College Republicans Chair Karly Hahn. State Rep. Kelly Fenton, who represents Woodbury in the Legislature, said Lewis was her “go to person” when she needed help from a member of Congress. “I am proud to second the nomination from my good friend Jason Lewis,” she said.

In his speech to the convention, Lewis said he has been in “the trenches” in public service and broadcasting for twenty five years. He said that Minnesotans know him. “They know whether they agree with everything or not,” he said, talking about himself in the third person. “They know he’s sincere and he stands for what he believes.”

Lewis outlined a variety of policy differences with Smith, namely that he doesn’t believe the federal government should fund abortion access. Smith was the Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota in the early 2000s. “We’re going to make the Hyde amendment permanent because regardless of your position on that issue, every American will tell you the taxpayers shouldn’t fund it,” Lewis said, referring to the law that prevents federal funding from being used for abortion services.

“Look at Tina’s Smith’s record on mining, on energy, on logging a great industry for Minnesota,” Lewis said, saying Smith is against major projects like Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline and both the Twin Metals and PolyMet mining projects in Northern Minnesota. “She’s been threatening that with the Democratic agenda and the Green New Deal agenda quite some time.”

Smith has not come out against any of those projects, nor has she endorsed the Green New Deal. Smith has pushed to remove some regulatory obstacles for PolyMet in the past. In terms of Twin Metals, a planned copper-nickel mine near Ely, Smith has advocated for a federal study on the impacts of mining in the area. If the study determines that the mine will pose significant environmental hazards, it could result in 20-year ban on copper-nickel mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Lewis also blamed Democrats in Minnesota for the protests in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd.

“What are the Democrats saying today? They’re blaming you. They’re blaming Trump. They’re blaming anybody but themselves,” Lewis said. “And yet if you take a look at who’s been governing Minneapolis and St. Paul for decades, it has been liberal Democrats.” Lewis said that in not responding to the burning down of the Minneapolis Police Third Precinct headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota’s residents were denied “due process” in the same way “George Floyd’s due process was denied.”

Lewis also criticized Gov. Tim Walz, saying his COVID-19 stay-at-home order “may go down as a public blunder of untold proportions. The greatest in history.”

Lewis has spent the last several months on an RV tour of Minnesota criticizing Walz’s choice to shut down the state in response to COVID-19. Earlier in May, Lewis’ campaign filed a lawsuit against the governor, saying he was prevented from holding campaign rallies because of the restrictions.

Looking ahead to the general election, Lewis is outmatched in fundraising. So far, Lewis has raised more than $1.3 million for his campaign, while Smith has raised close to $7.5 million.

Smith has spent the last several weeks focused on the Federal response to COVID-19, advocating for a substantial amount of funding for the child care industry, which is on the verge of collapse after state shutdowns around the country.

Since the start of his campaign, Lewis has used his platform to attack Smith’s record and finances, but received little response from the senator. Over the last few days, Smith has instead tweeted about resources residents can use if their home was damaged during the riots and encouraged people to donate to Black Lives Matter.

“Our state and our nation are hurting, yearning for justice,” Smith tweeted on Saturday. “And we’re all looking for ways to be allies and advocates.”

Comments (51)

  1. Submitted by Susan MacMillan on 06/01/2020 - 11:42 am.

    Absolutely appalling. One more little elitist Trumpette. Why does the GOP try to destroy this country and its citizens?

  2. Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/01/2020 - 11:48 am.

    Clowns endorse Krusty over Bozo.

  3. Submitted by Jim Smola on 06/01/2020 - 11:56 am.

    It says a lot if a racist, misogynistic, homophobic is the candidate who is selected by the Republicans. What a sorry state of affairs if that is someone they think will represent Minnesota!

    • Submitted by tom kendrick on 06/01/2020 - 12:01 pm.

      Oh, Jim – no, he does not propose to represent Minnesota. He is running to represent the minority of people who embrace the pollution he used to spew on the radio. Minnesota can do better than this Trump sycophant.

    • Submitted by T.W. Day on 06/01/2020 - 12:33 pm.

      As a US Representative, Lewis was too timid/conservative to even meet with more than half of his “constituents” (to use that word loosely). Hard to imagine the state picking this wimp for any job requiring an ounce of integrity or courage.

  4. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/01/2020 - 12:02 pm.

    Never before in the past 150 years has one party been so ill equipped to coherently provide solutions to immediate problems: economic collapse, global pandemic, violence in the streets, crisis of culture as the current GOP.

    And that inability to offer a coherent solution could not be better illustrated than nominating Jason Lewis to be anything other than the guy who says:

    “Next caller”

  5. Submitted by George Kimball on 06/01/2020 - 12:06 pm.

    Hurrah! The Republican just guaranteed Minnesota will continue to have two Democrat Senators in DC.

    • Submitted by T.W. Day on 06/01/2020 - 12:34 pm.

      I wish I could share your optimism.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 06/01/2020 - 05:18 pm.

        Here’s some hard data for you: there is no national GOP money coming in to MN for Lewis, none. If he had a prayer, it would be coming to some degree. Kansas has not sent a Dem to the US Senate since the Great Depression, and the Dems have a better chance of winning the Kansas seat this year than the GOP has of flipping the MN seat.

        The delicious irony is that the misogynist Lewis will lose to two “girls” in two consecutive elections.

      • Submitted by Susan Maricle on 06/05/2020 - 07:17 am.

        Me too. Everyone who said Trump didn’t have a chance in hell was stunned when the returns came in. Wrong and strong usually beats right and light, to paraphrase the Big Dog.
        Should Lewis win, my hope is that his opponent is Keith Ellison.

    • Submitted by Mark Gruben on 06/08/2020 - 04:53 am.

      Republicans have lost 23 consecutive statewide elections, and have not won a statewide race in nearly 14 years. And by choosing yet another extremist, that losing streak will no doubt continue.

  6. Submitted by T.W. Day on 06/01/2020 - 12:40 pm.

    “Since the start of his campaign, Lewis has used his platform to attack Smith’s record and finances, but received little response from the senator.” This is the right way to handle these characters. A high point in the 2016 campaign was when Clinton challenged Sanders to join her in refuting some idiot thing Trump had said, “I don’t have time to respond to every stupid thing Donald Trump says.” Likewise, ignoring Lewis is likely the best tactic. He’s a fly in the outhouse at best.

  7. Submitted by Sheila Ehrich on 06/01/2020 - 01:28 pm.

    And folks, please remember that the entire time Lewis represented District 2, he NEVER lived in the district. This is legal, although I don’t know why. But as a resident of District 2, I would much prefer to be represented by someone who actually LIVES in my south-of-the-river district than someone who lives clear out in Woodbury. Rep. Angie Craig is doing a fabulous job representing me and the other residents of this district. Thank you Angie!

  8. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/01/2020 - 01:34 pm.

    I’m not sure if the wording of the excerpt reflects the actual speech, but it sounds like Lewis knew his crowd would be more riled up about the burning of a police station in a city they wouldn’t dream of visiting voluntarily than they are about the blatant murder of a fellow citizen by a police officer.

    And it was murder. There is no other word for it. “Denial of due process” is some cant made up to show concern without really being concerned. Is he at all upset about that?

  9. Submitted by M Olson on 06/01/2020 - 01:40 pm.

    I don’t hear any solutions or ideas from “next caller” Lewis. How about some proposals we could discuss? Just being against things isn’t good enough.

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/01/2020 - 02:17 pm.

    Wow. Didn’t see that coming.

  11. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/01/2020 - 02:44 pm.

    “And yet if you take a look at who’s been governing Minneapolis and St. Paul for decades, it has been liberal Democrats.”

    Right. Conservative Republicans or libertarian blowhards have such a wondrous record on race relations.

    “George Floyd’s due process was denied.”

    He was murdered. In broad daylight, in front of witnesses. He was murdered by a police officer who acted in the belief that he would face no consequences. Murdered.

    Talk about “due process” is just more cant from an ex-radio host.

  12. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 06/01/2020 - 02:54 pm.

    How many times did the attendees at this Convention parrot the words of the Pledge of Allegiance “with liberty and justice for all” without any sense of irony or shame?

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 06/02/2020 - 01:34 pm.

      Hollow, meaningless words to Repubs. Just like “democracy”.

      The word that does matter to them is “power”…

  13. Submitted by Gene Nelson on 06/01/2020 - 03:40 pm.

    Another wannabe trumper buffoon who builds his repertoire with insults and hate. Sadly, this is today’s brand of republicanism.

  14. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 06/01/2020 - 04:22 pm.

    Writing as a former Republican, it’s far beyond sad to see that the best Minnesota Republicans can manage as a Congressional candidate is a “non-thinking” (his words, describing young women) blowhard whose primary skill seems to be spouting neofascist talking points. My sincere hope is that the state party’s endorsement of his candidacy marks the beginning of the end for the current version of the Minnesota Republican Party. Between / among Lewis, Gazelka and Daudt, it’s as if the 18th century called, and wanted its best ideologues back.

  15. Submitted by Bob Kraemer on 06/01/2020 - 04:29 pm.

    Couldn’t the state GOP find anyone more ultra Right Wing than Lewis? This guy is about as far right as it gets. Radical fringe describes him perfectly!

  16. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 06/01/2020 - 06:27 pm.

    Just what we need – another loud mouth finger pointing Republican who hates women, minorities and government, but I’d ready to take a government check and the opportunity to accomplish nothing to make America better for all. The members of the Minnesota Club who moved to Florida to avoid paying Minnesota taxes will be delighted to bankroll his campaign.

  17. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 06/01/2020 - 10:17 pm.

    “Before that, Lewis was a nationally syndicated radio host, a platform he used to make homophobic and racist remarks”

    No bias here.

    “Smith has not come out against any of those projects, nor has she endorsed the Green New Deal.”

    Just like Senator Amy, she is neither for or against anything, which assures her re-election/lifetime appointment.

    • Submitted by Brian Simon on 06/02/2020 - 09:26 am.

      “No bias here.”

      What’s the bias? Are you disputing that Lewis has made homophobic and racist remarks? Or is it bias to report facts unflattering to Republicans and conservatives?

      I suppose it’s some kind of radical/liberal plot, but some people believe voters should know the facts about candidates.

      • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 06/02/2020 - 11:13 pm.

        I suggest that Mr. Lewis did not use “his platform” only to “make homophobic and racist remarks”. Calling him a conservative radio host seems accurate, but cherry picking items that SOME people might consider homophobic or racist reveals a bias from the author, which I noted. Did Babe Ruth use his baseball career to overeat and drink? He did a few other things too, which could be fairly pointed out.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/03/2020 - 09:50 am.

          He talked about a lot of things, but let’s not minimize his racist, sexist, homophobic remarks:

          “How does somebody else owning a slave affect me? If I don’t think it is right, I won’t own one, and people always say ‘well if you don’t want to marry somebody of the same sex, you don’t have to, but why tell somebody else they can’t. Uh, you know if you don’t want to own a slave, don’t. But don’t tell other people they can’t.”

          “When there is a predominantly black festival, there’s trouble.”

          “Racial violence is all the media rage, but the elephant in the living room is they have it wrong. The real victims of most racial violence are not are not members of the minorities in America. They are white people.”

          “It’s time somebody says ‘White Lives Matter.’”

          Taxes are like slavery. “We used to call this slavery when we did it by race. Now we do it by economics, so I guess it’s OK.”

          “This is a country in crisis. Those women are ignorant in, I mean, the most generic way… You’ve got a vast majority of young single women who couldn’t explain to you what GDP means. You know what they care about? They care about abortion. They care about abortion and gay marriage. They care about ‘The View.’ They are non-thinking.”

          “I never thought in my lifetime where’d you have so many single, or I should say, yeah single women who would vote on the issue of somebody else buying their diaphragm.”

          “There’s only one thing wrong with Indiana’s (or anyone else’s) Religious Freedom & Restoration Act (RFRA): it doesn’t go far in enough in allowing discrimination.”

          Or are you okay with all of that? Perhaps you will join him in his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

          • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 06/04/2020 - 09:58 pm.

            “Racial violence is all the media rage, but the elephant in the living room is they have it wrong. The real victims of most racial violence are not are not members of the minorities in America. They are white people.”

            Post the facts that the statement is false. I believe 9 African-Americans were killed by police in 2019 while over 1700 African-Americans were killed by non-police and mostly by other African -Americans. Why no outrage? And why no memorials or murals for all of our fellow innocent citizens?

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/05/2020 - 11:15 am.

              That’s a pretty clumsy reply. First, you ask me to prove a negative (that white people are not the real victims of racial violence), then you abruptly switch to the standard “not racist at all” trope about how many African Americans are killed by other African Americans.

              And frankly, if you don’t see the difference between someone killed by a criminal and someone killed by a law enforcement officer acting in the scope of his official duties and under color of law, then I don’t know what to think (actually, I do, but moderation won’t let me post it here).

        • Submitted by Jim Roth on 06/03/2020 - 02:33 pm.

          Jason Lewis is no Babe Ruth,

    • Submitted by ian wade on 06/02/2020 - 12:44 pm.

      Lewis has stated…

      African American people receiving assistance have “substituted one plantation for another.”

      Indiana’s Religious Freedom and Restoration act “doesn’t go far enough in allowing discrimination.”

      Regarding the 2012 American with Disabilities act “the government determines who you shall hire, who you should work next to, and when you’re going to be thrown in jail or fined civilly for refusing to employ or serve or do whatever the government says you ought to do.”

      “Now, are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can’t call her a slut?”

      “One of the reasons that the Democrats love the quote unquote female issue is because they know women vote more liberally than men do. Now you could say in a very, very sexist, misogynistic way that, ‘Well, that’s because women just don’t understand money. They don’t understand, they’re, they don’t handle finances. They’re guided by emotion not reason. Why, that’s why they didn’t have the vote for a full century in the country,’ ”

      He also frequently claimed that black people have an “entitlement mentality” and viewed themselves as victims.

      You’re right, Tom. There is no bias here. Jason Lewis is a racist, homophobic misogynist and the GOP just endorsed him.
      Embarrassing, huh?

      • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 06/02/2020 - 11:18 pm.

        And who says that all of those quotes are wrong? Is there absolutely no truth spoken in any of those quotes?

        “Now you could say in a very, very sexist, misogynistic way” which he isn’t saying obviously, but what isn’t true about the statement.

        And thanks everyone for not disputing my remarks about Senator Smith, which apparently we are all in agreement on.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/03/2020 - 09:41 am.

          So you miss the days when women could be called sluts?

          • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 06/04/2020 - 10:02 pm.

            My female high school health teacher once said “How come a guy who screws a lot of chicks is a stud but a girl who screws a lot of guys is a slut? Profound. And now nobody can use the word. And of course my comments have been moderated again because I asked who determines whether we can call people racist, bigot, homophobe, sodomite, liar, cheat and the like.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/05/2020 - 11:10 am.

              You can use the word. You should, however, expect criticism for doing so.

              The conservative understanding of “free speech” seems to be “I can say whatever I want and no one is allowed to respond in a negative manner.” Sorry, but the real world doesn’t work like that.

              PS I can’t resist a digression: the original meaning of “slut” was an untidy or messy woman. It had nothing to do with her sexual activity. I have heard that the word is still used this way in parts of Britain.

        • Submitted by ian wade on 06/03/2020 - 01:07 pm.

          “And who says that all of those quotes are wrong?”

          People with moral integrity, mostly.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/03/2020 - 02:18 pm.

          I am sure there are some degenerate racists out there who don’t think those statements are wrong. But honest, decent people recognize how wrong and bigoted Lewis is.

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/03/2020 - 03:00 pm.

          Folks generally vote for candidates who align similarly with their values and beliefs. We don’t need to diagnose Jason Lewis as a liar or truth teller: his values and beliefs are far out of alignment with mine and with a majority of Minnesotans as judged by his long record of comments.

          By all means, he should stand by and run on his values and beliefs.

          And I will give him credit for having a career that put those values and beliefs out there. You can bet we have plenty of Republican office holders who think exactly like Lewis and are clever enough to hide it…

          • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 06/03/2020 - 10:57 pm.

            I agree that a majority of Minnesotans won’t agree (or vote) for him, but the 55-45 split in a solidly blue state and a Democrat landslide year should give you pause. Oh, who am I kidding.

            • Submitted by Matt Haas on 06/05/2020 - 07:19 am.

              Why? We’re aware of the split in this country, and that brainwashing is hard to deprogram folks from. Its gonna take a couple more generations at least to correct the destructive influence of the conservative revolution.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/03/2020 - 02:14 pm.

      Exactly. No bias at all. Because that is completely true. Lewis has a very long and public record of bigoted statements.

  18. Submitted by Scot Kindschi on 06/02/2020 - 02:23 pm.

    This one little move shows us everything that is wrong with the GOP…no less than “everything”.

  19. Submitted by Mike Fralick on 06/03/2020 - 09:42 am.

    I am a middle, leaning left liberal, yes liberal who chooses optimism over pessimision. When I vote, I vote for who I believe is the best candidate to represent me and all my fellow citizens. Why is it the local, state and national Republican parties continue to present candidates for public office that are so offensive a choice to me and others voters. Jason Lewis as a choice to represent Minnesota in the United States Senate? Really? WTF were those people thinking, voting for such a toxic human? as Lewis. A mini trump or trumpette no less. Minnesota, please rebuke the MN gop and it’s candidates, put them on the sidelines until they can present candidates for public office who are real, honest and worthy of our vote and support.

    • Submitted by Mark Gruben on 06/08/2020 - 05:19 am.

      This problem seems especially prevalent here in Minnesota. The extremists have taken control of MN-GOP, and for whatever reason, they’ve convinced themselves that the majority of Minnesotans are on their side. As a result, they choose candidates who are, frankly, unelectable.

  20. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 06/05/2020 - 11:20 am.

    An highly self-entitled white man with more wealth than he has achieved through hard work is criticizing black people for being overly entitled? Why don’t you just say they are uppity and don’t know their place, which is to serve their white conservative masters?

    Generally Republicans make more of an effort to hide their bigotry, although Trump’s overt and hostile racism probably inspires other small men to come out from under a rock. Your “talents” best work on loud mouth radio, although perhaps you didn’t get the recognition and rewards you wished there. Cashing in by election does seem to work for a lot of politicians.

  21. Submitted by Jeff Alerex on 06/05/2020 - 03:17 pm.

    I don’t think folks need to worry, Tina will wipe up the floor with him.

  22. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 06/06/2020 - 12:16 pm.

    The one thing that concerns me about Tina Smith is that she is nearly invisible in the public sphere. Jason Lewis is well known and has a loyal following (one of my high school classmates was thrilled to have her picture taken with him), but Smith has no public image and was appointed, not elected, to her current position.

    I have nothing against her and will certainly vote for her, but she needs to be out front commenting on things that need commenting on to avoid having people look at their ballots in November and think, “Jason Lewis versus Tina Who?”

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/08/2020 - 09:56 am.

      “She won the 2018 special election to fill the remainder of Franken’s term, defeating Republican Karin Housley, a Minnesota state senator.”

      Karin Housley is/was a more formidable candidate than Jason Lewis and Hossley lost by:

      Nominee Tina Smith Karin Housley

      Popular vote 1,370,540 1,095,777
      Percentage 53.0% 42.4%

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