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Former radio talker Lewis wins GOP endorsement in 2nd Congressional District

Jason Lewis
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Jason Lewis

Anyone who expected fireworks – or even a little suspense – would have been disappointed by the Republican Second Congressional District Convention in Apple Valley over the weekend. 

Despite predictions that there would be a deluge of nasty literature, personal confrontations, and endless ballots, there was little drama in the decision to endorse a candidate to replace retiring Republican Congressman John Kline. Former radio talk show host Jason Lewis required just seven ballots — not a big number in such contests — to secure the endorsement. He knocked out former state Sen. John Howe on the second ballot, and defeated activist David Gerson on the last one, 63 to 37 percent.

Lewis is an outspoken conservative with a libertarian streak whose radio commentaries  on race, abortion, and the Constitution has led opponents to offer a stream of claims that he runs too far right for CD2, a swing district that covers the Twin Cities’ southern and eastern suburbs. 

The DFL-endorsed candidate for the district, former St. Jude Medical executive Angie Craig pounced within minutes of the Lewis endorsement. “I’m confident his views are totally out of step with a majority of Minnesotans,” Craig said in a news release. “I will work tirelessly to show how Jason Lewis’s divisive views and ugly rhetoric are out of touch with my own values and those of our state.”

Lewis fended off similar arguments from his GOP opponents during the course of the endorsement campaign. And he may still have Republican opposition before he gets to take on Craig. Lakeville businesswoman Darlene Miller, who’s been endorsed by Kline, has said she will challenge Lewis in the Republican primary, which will take place on Aug. 9. Howe said he may do the same.

Lewis expressed confidence he will prevail. At the convention, he described Craig as “the most radical candidate,” and said he would campaign on reducing the national debt and protecting people’s private information. 

In an interview, Lewis said he has no problem with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, although he supported Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul in the presidential primary campaign. Lewis intends to use those libertarian credentials in his appeal to voters. “Remember, this is a district that supported [former governor and Independence Party candidate] Jesse Ventura,” he said.

But voters in CD2 also supported Mark Dayton and Al Franken, as DFL party chair Ken Martin was quick to point out in statement released after Lewis’ endorsement, indicating that Democrats will make an intense effort to flip this once safe Republican seat.

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/09/2016 - 09:35 am.

    She got that right

    “I’m confident his views are totally out of step with a majority of Minnesotans.”

    I am too. He believes in a free society.

    • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 05/09/2016 - 05:33 pm.

      You are wrong Mr. Tester

      As Chris Fields, the African-American, former Marine, and prominent Republican put it in a Star Tribune piece:

      Chris Fields, who serves as Deputy Chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, criticized past comments made by Jason Lewis, who is seeking the Republican Party of Minnesota’s endorsement for Congress in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District.

      Last week, Lewis was strongly criticized for comments he made on his radio show about women and for his analysis on slavery and civil rights in his book.

      In an interview earlier tonight, Fields disapproved of the comments from Lewis uncovered last week, but also additional comments from Lewis.

      In 2009, Lewis said “real Americans” think Hurricane Katrina victims were “a bunch of whiners.” In 2012, Lewis said the “white population” has been “committing political suicide” and “committing cultural suicide” by not reproducing at higher levels. Last year, Lewis said “the median income for blacks in America would make them rich in most African nations, not most – all.”

      “Provocative comments like that demonstrate ignorance, a lack of sensitivity, and they exacerbate the racial divisions in America” said Fields, who added that Lewis’ comments about women, slavery, and race “are contradictory to the values Republicans share and principles the party was founded upon.”


      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/10/2016 - 08:47 am.


        Mr. Tester may be correct. There are a lot of people who would nod in agreement with Mr. Lewis’s worst comments about race. They will tell you that they themselves are not racist, no, of course not, but what are they supposed to think when they hear about all that crime and welfare? What about that?

        Similarly, his views on women would resonate with many. Rush Limbaugh is still on the air after saying what Mr. Lewis said, but in a characteristically cruder fashion. The only criticism was of his “unfortunate choice of words.” Mr. Lewis chooses his words better, but the sentiment is the same.

        The Party of Lincoln, the party that gave us civil rights and voting rights laws, that first proposed an Equal Rights Amendment, has jumped head first into the swamps of bigotry and hatred. Jason Lewis is jsut the face of that party all shined up.

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 05/10/2016 - 05:17 pm.

          My apologies for not being clearer

          When I said that Mr. Tester was wrong, I was referring to his last sentence.

          “He believes in a free society”

          Clearly, as you point out, his remarks/positions on women, slavery, and race are inconsistent with a free society.

          When a black conservative such as Mr. Fields reads Mr. Trump the riot act on such matters, claims that Mr. Trumps believes in a free society seem absurd.

  2. Submitted by joe smith on 05/09/2016 - 12:29 pm.

    We just voted for Rubio and Bernie in our state.. Thank goodness Lewis only has to win the votes of DC2 folks. Maybe some common sense libertarian ideas is exactly what we need here in Minnesota.

  3. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 05/09/2016 - 12:44 pm.


    I’m sure Lewis’ opponents have only scratched the surface of his toxic radio transcripts. On the plus side, nominating this individual as the GOP candidate will make it a heck of a lot easier to get a Democrat elected.

  4. Submitted by Christopher Williams on 05/10/2016 - 01:12 pm.

    Changing Neighborhood

    Apple Valley is a lot more diverse these days. When I first lived there in 2000, it was pretty white bread expensive, and christian. Typical republican area. With the housing boom and following bust though, it’s become a lot more diverse that I’ve noticed. All those gravel quarries turned into afforable housing and apartments. A lot of those 1970’s tract homes turned into fixer uppers after the neglect of the great recession years. The data seems to back this up. Census data shows that the Caucasian population in 2000 was 89% but in 2010 was only 68%. I’d imagine it’s even more diverse now. Sounds like a tough row to hoe for an over-the-top extreme right winger in a district already identified as a “swing” district.

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