The race to replace Rep. John Kline is about to get a lot more visible

MinnPost photo by Steve Date
Jason Lewis chatting with supporters during his campaign's primary gathering on Tuesday night.

Jason Lewis won the 2nd Congressional District GOP primary Tuesday in a four-way race that caught the eye of national political observers, even if it didn’t make a whole lot of noise over the last few months. 

The lack of statewide races and a beautiful summer day explain the low statewide turnout of 7 percent, but in the 2nd Congressional District, money – or the decision not to spend much of it – was another reason the race didn’t generate as much attention as one might expect. 

Luke Hellier, a GOP activist in the district, said he received only one piece of mail on behalf of Lewis, a few pieces of mail from candidate Darlene Miller, and no get-out-the-vote calls. “It was a low-spending race,” he said. “And maybe it was a strategic move on Lewis’s part.”

It was, according to Lewis’s campaign manager, Jack Dwyer. “We tried to be diligent,” he said. “We didn’t want to spend every dollar when our main goal is winning in November.” Dwyer said Lewis’s victory owed as much to the GOP endorsement and Lewis’s good relationship with conservative voters as direct mail and advertising.

But now, Lewis heads into the general election and must make a major leap in fundraising to keep pace with his DFL opponent, Angie Craig. She has raised $2.5 million, and still has most of it on hand. Lewis didn’t spend much to win the primary, but he also didn’t raise that much, about $350,000.  

portrait of angie craig
Angie Craig

Craig will also get ample assistance from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has earmarked as much as three million dollars for advertising in the 2nd Congressional District.  The ads most certainly will use Lewis provocative comments from his days as a talk radio host to portray him has a far-right demagogue.

Lewis will get his own assist from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is prepared to spend money on this race to depict Craig as far too liberal, even in a swing district like the second. But Lewis will still need his own funds. “He needs to get out there early to define who he is, to show him as a dad, and a businessman — before the Democrats paint a different picture,” Hellier said.

In short, with Craig ready to do battle, Lewis will need to make a lot more noise than he did in the primary. And voters can expect to be pummeled with political persuasion from both sides.

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Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Beth-Ann Bloom on 08/12/2016 - 04:13 pm.


    Could Mr Lewis start with a thoughtful discussion of the issues and concrete descriptions of his plans? Seems like a really reasonable beginning

  2. Submitted by richard owens on 08/13/2016 - 08:37 am.

    Sometimes it’s embarrassing being Minnesotan.

    Just when we are about to forget all the crazy remarks in the national spotlight of Michele Bachmann, here comes another wacko extremist from the right.

    The Atlantic calls him “Minnesota’s Trump”.

  3. Submitted by Craig Johnson on 08/13/2016 - 10:51 am.

    Just another Trumpster

    Lewis has paid close attention to the GOP chaos candidate. Heavy on bombast and light on facts. OK, I wasn’t a fan of Kline – but for good reason. His stance on ACA, education, war engagement, taxation, infrastructure investment are all issues Kline did not engage with. Even a chairman of the House Education committee.

    Lewis promises to be another brick in the wall of GOP do-nothingness. Happy to throw a rock, but lacking in the intellectual curiosity to delve deeply into policy and put forth the energy to correct what needs attention.

    Angie is quite another story: great non-confrontational interpersonal skills, smart as can be, aware an motivated to both constituent services as well as a progressive outlook on all the issues Lewis backs away from.

    Lewis is soiled by clinging to Trumps shirttails. If we truly want to reform and change politics there is no room for politicians who’s raison d’être is obstructionism. The House of Representatives has to operate as a functional part of government.

  4. Submitted by Bill Willy on 08/13/2016 - 11:39 am.

    A True Constitutional Conservative

    One of the conclusions Jason Lewis draws from the Constitution:

    “If you don’t want to own a slave, don’t. But don’t tell other people they can’t.”

  5. Submitted by kay kessel on 08/13/2016 - 11:54 am.

    Jason Lewis is no John Kline who has been a US Education leader

    Under Governor Pawlenty’s leadership on April 15, ? Jason Lewis appeared at the Capitol and spoke out about funding for Education. There were parents representing “Parents United” seeking more funding for Education which was consistently cut under Pawlenty’s leadership since 2002. Counselors, Special Education, funding for ESL students, funding for psychologists, teachers, basic funding, early childhood, all were cut. I will never forget Jason Lewis standing up and telling all these parents ” What you want my money for your kids?” He lived out of the state part of the time.

    Yes, Jason Lewis! We want your taxes and all Minnesotan’s fair taxes to adequately fund our public schools. Congressman Kline rallied around teachers and Education funding and policy.
    It was the same time when Bill Cooper from TCF urged no funding increases for schools and tuition hikes for the University-not adequate funding but he did get TCF stadium built that year at the U of Mn on the backs of students higher tuitions!

  6. Submitted by K Meyers on 08/13/2016 - 12:29 pm.

    Go Jason Lewis!!

    I’m behind you 100%.

  7. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 08/13/2016 - 08:18 pm.

    Reporting standards

    The reporter, a known Republican, presents this election just as a matter of money. Maybe you want to talk about issues or the damage Trump appears to be having on Republican candidates?

    Lewis is a talk show host, a job known for extreme positions, is he going to be a captive of special interests like Kline was of for-profit schools, which funded his campaigns. Many of those schools cheated students, forced them to finance school based on promised jobs students didn’t get and declared bankruptcy, a la Trump University. And speaking of Trump, is Lewis a Trump supporter, or a Reoublican trying to avoid talking about Trump? Oh yes, is Lewis a Tea Party supporter?

    If we don’t get anything than one dimensional money analysis, what are we to make of this race? Jason Lewis is a name and a loud voice. In the current edition of the Republican Party, of course he won. But what qualifies him for the job and what issues are important to him? Go elsewhere for answers,

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 08/14/2016 - 04:05 pm.

      I agree…

      “…we don’t get anything than one dimensional money analysis.”

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/15/2016 - 08:44 am.

      And More Than That

      Kline was not just a water boy for the for profit higher ed industry, he ran on his experience a a marine. And when it was shown that the for profit industry was ripping off Kline’s fellow vets, he chose campaign contributions over our brave veterans. Shameless!

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