ROCHESTER, Minn. – From Washington D.C. to the streets of Rochester, people in Southern Minnesota are showing lots of support for the commander-in-chief. 

“Well, I think you need to look at what he’s accomplished,” State Representative John Petersburg for District 24A said. 

Jason Lewis, a Senate Candidate running against Sen. Tina Smith agreed. 

“I’ve always told people I don’t run away from good policy,” Lewis said. 

Why do they support him? 

“We reformed the tax code, the first tax reform in over 30 years, we unleashed energy independence from regulatory release,” Lewis said. 

Petersburg says Trump has accomplished a lot. 

“The economy is doing extremely well right now, North Korea is in check, South Korea is starting to soften a little bit,” Petersburg said. 

Despite any controversy – both say Trump is what’s best for our country. 

“Basically he did everything he said he was gonna do, I did everything I said I was going to do in Congress, now everything’s come to a standstill because of this obsession over impeachment,” Lewis said. 

Petersburg says Trump is making Americans’ lives better. 

“We need to understand what he’s doing is making a difference and making our lives better,” Petersburg said. 

Members of the Judiciary Committee will be working through the weekend ahead of their next hearing on Monday, which will focus on the Intelligence Committee’s findings. 

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Trump rally jumpstarts GOP push for Minnesota

Trump rally jumpstarts GOP push for Minnesota

President Donald Trump’s campaign already has 20 paid staffers in Minnesota, with a goal of having about 100 by next year.

President Donald Trump’s campaign already has 20 paid staffers in Minnesota, with a goal of having about 100 by next year.

President Donald Trump’s case for winning Minnesota in 2020 started with a reminder of what might have been in 2016, when he lost the state by a margin of 1.5 percentage points, or less than 45,000 votes.

“This feels like the day before the election,” Trump told a cheering crowd Thursday at Target Center, calling to mind his impromptu Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport rally on the eve of the 2016 election.

One more rally like that, Trump and his advisers now believe, and he would have reversed the GOP’s decadeslong history of futility in Minnesota going back to the 1972 presidential election, when Richard Nixon carried the state.

Trump’s downtown rally could not be counted on to help him much in DFL-dominated Minneapolis, but it sent an unmistakable signal that Minnesota as a whole — long a backwater of presidential politics — has become a battleground state.

Determined not to make the same mistake twice, Trump’s campaign is planning to pour up to $30 million into the state — compared with just $30,000 to $40,000 in 2016. There are already 20 paid staffers on the ground here, with a goal of about 100 by next year. The last time, Trump’s campaign said, they had only one employee on their payroll in Minnesota, and he was transferred to Colorado before Election Day.

“I think it’s a state that allows us to be on the offensive,” said Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for Trump’s re-election campaign. “Democrats need Minnesota. Is there a path [to the White House] without Minnesota? That’s a question for them, I guess.”

With tears running down their cheeks Brooklyn Hanneman, left, of Lino Lakes and Katie Bohn from Centerville watched President Donald Trump speak Thursday at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Trump campaign officials are looking at Minnesota much the same way as Pennsylvania, where the president won on strong performances in counties outside of the metro areas of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Minnesota’s emergence as a competitive state in 2020 was evident in the hours before Trump’s visit. Vice President Mike Pence, his wife, Karen, and Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, each came to town for a string of events. Earlier in the week, a coalition between the campaign and the Republican National Committee trained about 100 volunteers in Anoka, part of an initiative to deploy more than 1,000 workers in the state.

“It shows a level of commitment that we haven’t seen from national Republicans in decades,” said Alex Conant, a Minnesotan who is now a Republican strategist in Washington and previously worked on presidential campaigns for Marco Rubio and Tim Pawlenty.

Ken Martin, chair of the Minnesota DFL Party, said the Trump campaign’s actions in Minnesota are no mere “head fake.”

“This is a real serious play to win this state,” Martin said. Democrats are raising the alarm, while Republicans are waxing hopeful.

Martin acknowledges that Trump’s strength in Minnesota in 2016 took Democrats by surprise, an advantage Republicans won’t have this time. But he questioned Trump’s strategic path to victory. For one, Martin said, Trump must find out how to make up some 45,000 votes — a task made taller by the move toward Democrats in last year’s congressional and legislative elections in some of the same suburban and exurban areas Trump won in 2016.

Trump’s visit previewed the role he’s poised to play in other races in the state next year. As the president stepped off Air Force One, he was greeted by several state GOP politicians with much on the line next year. That included state Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, who’s defending a slim GOP majority in the upper chamber; and former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, now running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith.

“Look, this is going to be ground zero,” Lewis said in an interview Friday. “It’s going to be fascinating. I do think Minnesota in many ways is going to be a microcosm of the country.”

Lewis said the deepening chasm between urban and rural voters reflects a broader nationwide trend, one he intends to seize on by making a hard play for the state’s increasingly conservative Eighth Congressional District in northern Minnesota while trying to limit Democratic strength in the suburbs.

Gazelka’s soft-spoken demeanor makes for a marked contrast to Trump. But as he maps out a strategy for holding the state Senate, Gazelka said he plans to run with Trump and “point to the substance of what he’s doing.”

Minnesota Republicans lost ground in the suburbs in 2018, and Gazelka said he’s honing his pitch for what’s become the state’s main political battleground.

“What are the things he’s doing, and do you like that?” Gazelka said of Trump. “And if you like that, I’m going to encourage them that’s enough to vote for him.”

Jennifer DeJournett, a GOP operative in Maple Grove, said Trump’s campaign needs to compete in suburban areas where Republicans lost ground last year. She praised the campaign’s early work getting out the vote in reliably Republican rural areas and regional centers but urged them to ramp up tailored messages to suburban voters that highlight positive economic news.

“You can’t lose epically in the cities, underperform in the suburbs and expect greater Minnesota to carry you over,” said DeJournett, who was data director for Republican Jeff Johnson’s 2018 campaign for governor.

A Trump campaign operation has been up and running since June, focusing on Twin Cities-area congressional districts represented by DFL Reps. Ilhan Omar and Betty McCollum, both liberal stalwarts.

“We don’t need to win those districts, we just need to incrementally turn out the vote higher than we have in the past,” said Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan. “If we’re adding 3,000, 4,000 more votes, that is the difference in statewide races.”

Democrats remain less convinced that Trump can win over undecided or independent voters. Some of those voters, put off by party politics, may opt to stay home because they’re fed up with the excessive partisanship.

“I don’t think there’s that many that are really on the fence,” said Steve Monk of Rochester, a DFL leader in Olmsted County. “[Trump] doesn’t really speak beyond the base so [his rally] wasn’t really doing anything to bring in anybody new.”

Lewis, a former conservative talk radio host, has often been compared to the president for his bombastic political style. He described his campaign as “in sync” with Trump and predicted multiple return visits by the president before the 2020 election.

Lewis is banking on winning over a chunk of the electorate he sees as alienated by the leftward tilt of the Democratic Party. Republicans sought to accentuate that point by railing against the anti-Trump protests around the Target Center.

Calculations are also likely to further adjust depending on who takes the Democratic nomination — a more centrist candidate like former Vice President Joe Biden, or one of the more progressive candidates such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Said Kenza Hadj-Moussa, communications director for progressive organizing group TakeAction Minnesota: “Politics are all about energy, and people are starting to see which campaigns are bringing that.”

Staff writers Judy Keen and Jessie Van Berkel contributed to this report.

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Both Minnesota senators now back calls for Trump impeachment inquiry over Ukraine

Both Minnesota senators now back calls for Trump impeachment inquiry over Ukraine

FILE – In this March 5, 2019 file photo Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., speaks during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Tina Smith on Tuesday became the latest Minnesota Democrat to support an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, joining Sen. Amy Klobuchar and a growing number of centrist Democrats in Congress alarmed over reports that he sought Ukrainian help ahead of the 2020 election.

“I support the House beginning impeachment proceedings, as a matter of national security, and protecting the rule of law and our Constitution,” Smith said in a prepared statement, moving from her previous position that impeachment talk was premature.

Smith cited recent whistleblower allegations that Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate the role of former Vice President Joe Biden — a leading 2020 challenger — in his son’s business dealings overseas.

Smith’s statement came amid growing pressure on Democratic leaders to take action against the president in the aftermath of the Special Counsel investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Smith’s move came a day after two freshman House Democrats from Minnesota, Reps. Angie Craig and Dean Phillips, also threw their weight behind impeachment proceedings. It also puts every Democrat in the Minnesota congressional delegation on record as favoring an impeachment inquiry — with the notable exception of Rep. Collin Peterson, who represents a rural western Minnesota district that voted heavily for Trump.

Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said in his own statement Tuesday that he’s not on board with fellow Democrats’ calls for an impeachment inquiry over Ukraine.

“If anyone thinks a partisan impeachment process would constrain President Trump, they are fooling themselves,” Peterson said. “Without significant bipartisan support, impeachment proceedings will be a lengthy and divisive action with no resolution.”

That puts Peterson closer to Minnesota’s three Republican congressmen, who are on record opposed to impeaching Trump. Rep. Tom Emmer, who as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee is leading the effort to break the Democrats’ House majority, said Tuesday that impeachment would hurt House Democrats politically.

Democrats “have become so radicalized by their hatred of President Trump that they are willing to plunge the nation into a constitutional crisis based on secondhand gossip,” Emmer said in a statement. “Make no mistake about it: backing impeachment will cost the Democrats their majority in 2020.”

Smith, facing re-election in 2020, immediately came under fire from GOP challenger Jason Lewis, who accused her of rushing to judgment without evidence. “Tina Smith and the Democratic Party have demonstrated time and again that they are all too willing to make a mockery of our Constitution by rushing to judgment and shredding due process in order to score cheap political points with their radical, angry political base,” Lewis said.

After days of relative silence, Republicans in Congress began a political counteroffensive in recent days, questioning the reports of the anonymous whistleblower said to have direct knowledge of Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last July. Trump also signaled Tuesday that he was preparing to release a transcript of the disputed call, which his aides said would quell the Democrats’ criticism.

Klobuchar, a candidate for president, called on the White House to make available the whistleblower’s entire report, not only the call transcript.

“Remember it’s the whistleblower complaint we must see,” Klobuchar wrote on Twitter. “Not just one call. Complaint reportedly involves more. It isn’t legal to sell out your country for personal gain.”

Impeachment proceedings appeared imminent on Tuesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing a formal impeachment inquiry, a dramatic reversal for the Democratic leader who had previously advocated a more measured approach.

Trump’s interactions with Ukraine allegedly involved his insistence that the country investigate business dealings there of Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was previously prosecuted over his own lobbying work in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department has closed its investigation into work on behalf of Ukrainian interests by Manafort’s one-time associate, Vin Weber, a once-powerful D.C. lobbyist and a former Republican congressman from Minnesota.

An attorney for Weber told the Post that “at all times Mr. Weber acted in good faith and in keeping with the legal advice his company received from the outset.”

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Lewis challenges Tina Smith, progressives during campaign open house

Lewis challenges Tina Smith, progressives during campaign open house

Republican senate candidate Jason Lewis talks with people during an open house Thursday, Sept. 12, at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — These aren’t the Democrats of Hubert Humphrey anymore.

And while the U.S. House of Representatives may have swung blue in the 2018 midterms, nor is Minnesota the blue stronghold it once was.

Former Congressman Jason Lewis, who lost his Congressional seat in the 2018 “blue wave,” kicked off his campaign to challenge Sen. Tina Smith with an open house at Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Baxter.

“I’m telling you, in 2020 the stakes could not be higher,” Lewis told the assembled crowd of roughly 20 people. “Speaking of the 1960s, the difference between the Democratic platform and today … you had chaos in the streets, you had all of that in the 1960s, but you still had a few grown-ups in the Democratic party. And I’m telling you that Hubert Humphrey couldn’t get the Democratic nomination.”

Lewis is coming off a downturn in his political career — namely, losing to freshman Democrat Angie Craig by 6 percentage points in the suburban 2nd Congressional District. But the last decade has largely represented a rise to national prominence for the former radio talk show host, whose program was nationally syndicated between 2009 to 2015.

During the open house, Lewis shook hands with visitors and rubbed shoulders with prominent Republican lawmakers in the area — the likes of state Reps. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, and Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, as well as Cass County GOP Chairman Fred Hage. Resort owner Dutch Cragun stumped for his longtime friend as well.

Republican senate candidate Jason Lewis speaks during an open house Thursday, Sept. 12, at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

During his speech, Lewis lambasted Democrats on Capitol Hill — particularly those that form the face of the emerging progressive wing, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota’s 5th District, as well as the senator he hopes to unseat: Smith.

He described the Democrats as a party run amok, that seeks to impose its authoritarian will on the American people by “offering everything, except what matters — freedom.”

In turn, Lewis defended the legacies of President Donald Trump and his own stint on Capitol Hill, the 115th Congress. While Democrats, Lewis said, alongside some members of the intelligence community and the national media are quick to attack the president on every issue — real or imagined — Trump and the GOP’s collective efforts to roll back Obamacare, make the largest tax cuts since Reagan and protect American interests in international trade have been a boon for small business owners in Minnesota.

Republican senate candidate Jason Lewis speaks during an open house Thursday, Sept. 12, at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Minnesota — which hasn’t selected a Republican presidential candidate since Nixon in ‘72 — is primed to elect Trump for a second term, said Lewis, who noted he looks to ride the same wave of red fervor across the state to his own seat in the U.S. Senate. While it’s been an uphill battle for GOP candidates over the decades, recent elections point to a state shifting conservative — evidenced, Lewis said, by shrinking margins for losers like McCain in ‘08, then Romney in ‘12, and then 2016 for Trump, who only lost by a mere 1.5 percentage points.

And while Trump’s brand of abrasive politics might rub some people the wrong way, Lewis said, people will vote results and good policy over socialistic propaganda from the Democrats. In his perspective, a dividing line of roughly 44,000 swing votes separates the GOP from its goals in the state.

“It’s a binary choice,” Lewis said. “I will tell you, when the top of the ticket is Elizabeth Warren, or Bernie Sanders, or Kamala Harris … there’s going to be a whole lot of people that look at that and say, ‘Well, I might not like the tweets, but I’m certainly not voting for that.’”

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[VIDEO] Jason Lewis Will Run Against Sen. Tina Smith

[VIDEO] Jason Lewis Will Run Against Sen. Tina Smith

[Full Article Here]

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Jason Lewis, who served as U.S. representative for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District for one term before being defeated by Rep. Angie Craig in 2018, has announced his intentions to run against Sen. Tina Smith.

He announced his campaign at the Minnesota State Fair Thursday morning, which was met with cheers at the Republican Party booth.

Continue reading [VIDEO] Jason Lewis Will Run Against Sen. Tina Smith

Jason Lewis to challenge Tina Smith for U.S. Senate seat

Jason Lewis to challenge Tina Smith for U.S. Senate seat

Lewis said he won’t distance himself from President Donald Trump’s positions on the economy, immigrants and other issues. 

By Judy Keen Star Tribune 

AUGUST 22, 2019 — 9:51PM

[Full Article Here]

Former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis embraced President Donald Trump’s policies as he announced plans to challenge Democratic Sen. Tina Smith in the 2020 election.

“Let the battle begin,” the Republican said at the GOP’s State Fair booth Thursday.

He called the Senate “the last firewall for freedom” in the face of liberals like U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and the other three members of the progressive “Squad” of congressional Democrats.

Continue reading Jason Lewis to challenge Tina Smith for U.S. Senate seat

Great discussion on the Rush Limbaugh Show with Mark Steyn about my campaign for U.S. Senate.

Great discussion on the Rush Limbaugh Show with Mark Steyn about my campaign for U.S. Senate.

We talked about how election 2020 is a watershed moment for Minnesota and for America. Do we embrace individual liberty, lower taxes, and good paying energy jobs for places like the Iron Range? Or do we succumb to the radical anti-Capitalist ideology being pushed by politicians like Ilhan Omar and Senator Tina Smith?

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Minnesota oil pipeline fight highlights Democratic dilemmas

Minnesota oil pipeline fight highlights Democratic dilemmas

Associated Press 
SEPTEMBER 9, 2019 — 9:50AM

[Original Link]

MINNEAPOLIS — A divisive fight over the future of a crude-oil pipeline across Minnesota is pinning presidential candidates between environmentalists and trade unions in a 2020 battleground state, testing their campaign promises to ease away from fossil fuels.

Progressive candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have condemned a Canadian company’s plan to replace its old and deteriorating Line 3 pipeline, which carries Canadian crude across the forests and wetlands of northern Minnesota and into northern Wisconsin. They’ve sided with environmental and tribal groups that have been trying to stop the project for years, arguing that the oil should stay in the ground.

Continue reading Minnesota oil pipeline fight highlights Democratic dilemmas