Sizing up the list of Republicans hoping to challenge for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Tina Smith, one name jumps out. A familiar name: Jason Lewis.
The former congressman and radio talk show host is the best bet for Minnesota Republicans in the Aug. 11 primary if they hope to prevail on Election Day, Nov. 3.
“I want to get the economy back roaring again, and I want to make certain that we restore the rule of law and some semblance of unity in the country,” Lewis said in an interview, held virtually, with News Tribune Editorial Board members. “We’ve got to get back to putting Minnesotans first. … That old JFK ‘rising tide that lifts all boats,’ that is the best thing we could do. You can’t do that if you’ve got people running in the streets saying we’re going to tear down Mount Rushmore and defund the police. This is radicalism. And this is extremism. And I’m not for that. … We need a return to normalcy.”
As a U.S. representative in 2017 and 2018, Lewis made a name for himself on the budget committee where he pushed for responsible spending and tax reform, particularly for small businesses. Reduced regulations led to lower unemployment during his term. His work helped jumpstart the economy, he said.
On the House Committee on Education and Labor, he helped pass a bill to allow high schoolers taking technical classes to earn college credits the way liberal-arts students long have been allowed to do. Another bill helped nonviolent juvenile offenders get training in the trades and technical skills.
There’s no question where Lewis stands on Minnesota’s response to COVID-19. Giving the federal government a pass, Lewis called his state’s response the “greatest public-policy blunder in 50 years” after the economy and schools here were shut down, healthy people were quarantined, and sick people were shuffled off to nursing homes.
There’s also no question about Lewis’ position on the calls to defund the police: “We quit exporting Paul Bunyan and started exporting chaos, and all of a sudden, throughout the country, it’s spread like wildfire,” he said. “Now we’ve gone from correcting an injustice for Mr. Floyd and his family to Christopher Columbus, Ulysses S. Grant, and Mount Rushmore. … We made that leap because people politicized a tragedy and hijacked a serious problem for a political motive. And if you take a look at the people now behind Antifa and the people organizing this stuff, it has very little to do with the Confederacy or even Mr. Floyd anymore and much to do, as (Rep.) Ilhan Omar said, with abolishing our economic system. This is a tipping point in this country.”
Also on the Republican primary ballot for U.S. Senate in Minnesota next month are John L. Berman, who lives on the West Coast and who wrote in an op-ed for the News Tribune that discretion is out of control in Minnesota courts; Bob Carney Jr., of Minneapolis, who said in an interview with the editorial board that he fears our nation is headed toward civil war; Cynthia Gail, an art teacher from Albert Lea, Minnesota; and James Reiberstein, who provided no contact information when he filed to run with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office.
Lewis’ name — and record — easily stand out in the field.