Will the Iron Range turn Red?

Will the Iron Range turn Red?

Pandemic opens opportunity for GOP, Senate hopeful to flip region

July 23, 2020

HIBBING — Former Republican Congressman Jason Lewis sees Greater Minnesota as the pathway to winning the state’s open U.S. Senate seat this fall and his strategy includes a heavy focus on mining, energy and logging industries on the Iron Range.

His campaign’s priorities are not unfamiliar to the region: evaluate and permit Twin Metals Minnesota’s proposed copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, construct the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline and keep paper mills open so loggers have a reliable customer base.

On Wednesday, hours after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz implemented a statewide mask mandate Wednesday, Lewis appeared at the Elks Lodge in Hibbing with another priority — pushing back on the Democrats’ coronavirus response.

With a few dozen maskless people in the crowd, including hometown legend and NBA Hall of Famer Kevin McHale, the Senate hopeful called the new mask mandate “unconstitutional” and a precursor to a second shutdown, and railed against the “consolidated power” granted to Walz through the emergency designation of the pandemic.

“The damage we have done to this society with a mandated lockdown will do more damage than the virus,” Lewis said. “If you’re really worried about it, stay home, and don’t tell other people they can’t go on with their lives.”

The emergence of the coronavirus pandemic across Minnesota in March prompted an emergency declaration and a number of executive orders issued by the governor to try and slow the spread. Among those orders were the forced closure of businesses deemed non-essential, halting elective procedures at medical clinics and until recently, telling bars and restaurants they could only do carry out or delivery.

Minnesota is among the states on the other side of its peak in cases and deaths, though both continue to rise at rates lower than the high points witnessed in May. In St. Louis County, cases are increasing at a higher pace that wasn’t experienced earlier in the pandemic. Health officials in recent weeks have cautioned residents about becoming complacent to the virus, acknowledging people are tired of restrictions and guidance on everyday activities, all while cases in wide open states like Florida have skyrocketed and a political war brews over how schools will reopen in the fall.

Lewis, a former congressman from Minnesota’s Second District and the GOP-endorsed candidate to run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, has jumped headfirst into the battle by suing the Walz administration in May over its COVID-19 response and on Wednesday calling the national Democratic response one of the biggest public policy blunders in 50 years, saying “you can’t cure the virus with the second Great Depression.”

Jennifer Carnahan, chair of the Minnesota GOP, likened the governor to notorious North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un over Twitter on Wednesday, comparing the state’s coronavirus response to a “dictatorship.”

In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, she took a toned-down response when asked about the mandate, saying most people are masking up in public and a government edict to wear one was unnecessary.

“None of us expected COVID to take over the world the way it did,” Carnahan said. “If businesses feel that is the right practice, then they absolutely should do that. The majority do that. Businesses are already taking those actions. Individuals are taking those actions. Why do we need the government to make that mandate?”

The GOP message regarding the coronavirus has fallen in line with the values many hold locally in the changing political landscape of the region, where the independent streak of Iron Rangers has been evident during the pandemic. In May, the Eveleth City Council declared it would not enforce executive orders from Walz that restricted businesses from operating at normal levels and a Virginia-based restaurant, apparently angered over customers not being allowed in, emblazoned “Walz sucks” on their electronic sign outside the building.

Once a tried and true Blue haven for Democrats, the region’s shift toward Republicans has been glaring since 2016, when President Donald J. Trump won the Iron Range and narrowly lost Minnesota. Two years later, U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber won the Eighth District and stands to be the first Republican since 1944 to win re-election in the district.

“I think we can win big,” Lewis said. “We’re going to represent Greater Minnesota and the Range like you’ve never seen before. It’s going to be a renaissance.”

Behind the new GOP movement over the last four years was the Iron Range’s quest to create jobs through PolyMet, Twin Metals and Enbridge, which have met stiff opposition and drawn-out legal challenges by environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers based largely in the metro area.

That opposition has rank-and-file union members rethinking their allegiance to the larger DFL even as their leadership continues to endorse the party, and locally, Democrats count among the biggest supporters of the projects moving toward completion. Some unions, including the Carpenters and IUOE Local 49, are among those who have touted their bipartisan endorsement process that also brings skeptical Republican candidates in to educate them on the value of union jobs.

Lewis, on Wednesday, credited Trump for bringing blue collar workers back to Republicans and for taking the party “kicking and screaming” back into fights over the border, mining and tariffs.

Lewis also bucked a Republican trend when an audience member asked about national right-to-work laws, which the U.S. Supreme Court effectively enacted over public unions in its infamous Janus v. AFSCME decision in 2018 and drew rebuke from private unions.

The Iron Range became a Democratic stronghold as miners in the early 1900s helped establish the labor unions seen across the region that are credited with driving wages, benefits and better working conditions. DFL voters have held up for the most part in this highly-unionized area, where schools, cities, mines, construction and trade groups and even the Mesabi Tribune count among the industries with a union workforce.

“There should not be a national right-to-work law, even if you’re in favor of right-to-work, or if you aren’t,” Lewis said. “If you believe in a national one, the next president can come out and repeal and make it closed shop nationwide. So either way it must reside with the states.”


Candidate’s View: Urban liberals won’t fight for Northland way of life

Candidate’s View: Urban liberals won’t fight for Northland way of life

July 15, 2020

Minnesota is facing some trying times. Gov. Tim Walz’s never-ending lockdown has crushed small businesses and put many Minnesotans out of work. The hard-working men and women of the Iron Range have been no exception. Mines and paper mills have idled production, and countless small businesses have closed their doors indefinitely.

This comes during an already difficult time for the Northland.

Unfortunately, urban liberals have made it painfully clear how they feel about our Iron Range communities. During a time where we need to get our economy moving again with good paying jobs — like those in mining, energy, and logging — Democrats are trying to shut down our economic engine.

No government should deny its citizens access to their own resources. And that principle has been the governing philosophy for the Iron Range from as far back as when the Superior National Forest was established in 1909 to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act in 1978.

Yet Democrats, like my opponent Sen. Tina Smith, have completely sold out to the wealthy special-interest groups and urban elites who seem hellbent on robbing Northeastern Minnesota of an economic renaissance powered by the increased demand for precious metals.

Contrary to the fearmongering from wealthy metro special interests, no operators are proposing any mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The fact is the Iron Range holds what could be some of the largest deposits of precious metals in the world. Responsible copper-nickel mining has been estimated to add $5.9 billion to Minnesota’s economy — along with upwards of 15,000 jobs, direct and indirect. The PolyMet mine alone is expected to add over 1,300 high-paying jobs.

For the small towns and cities on the Range, this economic boost is a lifeline, crucially important as we start to recover from the coronavirus lockdown — a lockdown, it should be noted, that has had far more to do with politics than public health. That’s why I sued Gov. Walz, to force him to reopen Minnesota, including our schools this fall.

Of course, this isn’t just about mining communities. The best way to get Duluth moving again is to get the Range moving again. According to the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, iron ore and coal make up 80% of the total tonnage leaving the Port of Duluth.

Just as taconite saved the Range, a new era of precious metals could provide the entire region with an economic boost it desperately needs. And yet, today’s “resistance Democrats” are willing to throw it all away to earn favor with their ever-increasing radical base.

Folks, this is no longer your mother’s or father’s DFL.

The “revolutionaries” now in control of the Democrat Party present the greatest threat to freedom in our lifetime. From the cancel culture on campuses to social-media censorship, they seek to harass, intimidate, and ban anyone who opposes them.

Sadly, Sen. Smith is in lockstep with these newfound extremists, such as U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have so cynically sacrificed the Range for political power. Let’s not give it to them.

Minnesota needs a senator ready to fight for the Northland way of life. I am.

Jason Lewis is a former congressman and the Republican-endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate in the Aug. 11 primary. There are five Republican and five Democrat candidates for the seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Tina Smith. They were all invited by the News Tribune Opinion page to submit a commentary. Their “Candidate’s View” columns are being published this month.


Jason Lewis brings his campaign for U.S. Senate to Borderland:

Jason Lewis brings his campaign for U.S. Senate to Borderland:

July 14, 2020

A common sense message that Democrats once embraced, is how Jason Lewis describes his campaign for United States Senate.

Lewis, who represented Minnesota’s 2nd congressional district from 2017 to 2019, brought that message to a small group in Borderland last week.

Lewis is the Republican Party of Minnesota’s nominee. He has a masters of arts degree in political science from the University of Colorado-Denver and a bachelor of arts degree in education/business from the University of Northern Iowa. He is the author of the 2010 book, “Power Divided is Power Checked,” and, with a 25-year career in broadcasting, was the host of a nationally syndicated Twin Cities radio show.

The stop at Thunderbird Lodge last week was among many on a several-month tour of Minnesota, traveling inside a red, white and blue RV clearly marked as his.

Hitting the campaign trail is like an “alternate universe,” he told the group, explaining that the once DFL stronghold known as Borderland is no longer that.

“These are not the Democrats here, who think they ought to defund the police,” he said, summing a focus his campaign, as well as that of other Republicans.

“The radicalized Democratic Party is pushing Democrats away, one by one,” he said. “Pro-life, pro-liberty, pro-property, pro Two Amendment — all at the International Falls Democratic base. Their party has left them on every single issue.”

Instead, the once rural based DFL Party is becoming based in the Twin Cities and a party that won’t offer the most basic functions of government — protecting property and restoring order during the riots that followed the death of George Floyd. he said.

“Public order is the No. 1 duty of any elected official,” he said. “Without protecting life, liberty and property, nothing else matters. If government will not use force to protect life, liberty and property, what good is it?”

He pointed to his support of energy, mining and logging, in contrast to “the hard environmental left who live in the metro area and want to have million dollar cabins in Voyageurs (National Park) but tell everyone else who lives in the area how to be good stewards.”

“People want to be have to the ability in American to earn a living,” he said.

That hard left mentality combined with the “COVID overreach told people they can’t earn a living,” he said citing earlier predictions about the numbers of deaths by July, which have not played out.

“People were off by orders of magnitude, and now they lecture us about not opening schools and mandatory masks, of course as a precursor for a second shutdown,” he said. He added it “keeps Joe Biden in the basement,” referring to the Democratic candidate for president, who has limited his campaigning because of COVID-19.

For Koochiching County, Lewis told The Journal a healthy environment can go hand -in-hand with reasonable mining and energy projects and logging.

“That’s the message: you can do both, they are not mutually exclusive,” he said.

Forest biomass being classified as a renewable energy source, like ethanol, “would be a huge boost,” he said, adding loggers play an important role in creating a healthy forest by eliminating undergrowth and forest debris that can fuel fires.

Meanwhile, he discussed conducting a campaign under the state restrictions put in place due to COVID-19.

Lewis said he supported the state reaction to “the public health challenge, which it was, for the first 15 days to let hospital capacity catch up. Another 15 days, OK let’s do that. We started to see spikes and started to see them come down. But these blue state governors said we got a pretty good thing going. We can cut off fossil fuels. We can tell the right they can’t gather in greater Minnesota. We can tell people they can’t go to church. We can do all kinds of things to ruin the (Pres. Donald) Trump economy … Finally, we said we’re gong back on the road again. If you want to arrest us go ahead. Two weeks later we sued Gov. Walz.”

In May, he filed a federal lawsuit arguing that restrictions meant to contain the spread of the coronavirus violate his ability to campaign as he wishes.

Lewis has been critical of Walz’s handling of the state’s reaction to the pandemic.

“This has been the greatest public policy blunder — before defunding the police, before abdicating your first responsibility in a time of riots on the street — this has been the biggest public policy blunder ever in Minnesota,” he said.

But he also said this is “no time for timid Republicans,” adding that Trump brought colleagues “kicking and screaming into fights we’ve needed for decades, to fight borders, to fight China.”

He later discussed his support for Twin Metals and Polymet, companies working to open mines on the Iron Range, and for Enbridge Line 3 replacement project in Beltrami County, adding he will fight for loggers, who have seen a 25-35 percent decrease in their jobs since 2000.

“I do have the heart of a liberal,” he said. “I keep it in a jar on a desk at my home. When I need real sustenance, I look at that.”


Tina Smith Calls Minnesotans Racist While Jason Lewis Calls for Order

Tina Smith Calls Minnesotans Racist While Jason Lewis Calls for Order

June 1, 2020

Jason Lewis is now the Republican Party of Minnesota’s nominee for the U.S. Senate. He accepted the Minnesotan GOP endorsement on the last Saturday of May.

As the former Representative of Minnesota’s 2nd district, Lewis has developed retuation as one of the more conservative voices in the Nation. He recently appeared on Fox & Friends, articulating and expressing the Minnesotan Democrats’ failure of leadership and negligence of duty.

“Today,” Lewis says, “I am honored to accept the endorsement of the Republican Party of Minnesota. Minnesota is in a state of crisis. And at no time in my lifetime has the need for change been more painfully evident. Our state and its citizens have been devastated by overreaching economic lockdowns on hardworking Minnesotans and now rioting and arson in the streets. Make no mistake, this is a result of decades of failed liberal policies. And no one represents that failure more than Senator Tina Smith.

Lewis was incredulous to find out that “Tina Smith unbelievably called Minnesotans racist and brazenly encouraged, after four days of riots, more of what she called ‘righteous protests.’ This is irresponsible and inflammatory, and I call on her to apologize and retract both statements.”

The Republican nominee Jason Lewis demands that “we begin the process of healing our state.” And for Lewis, that means “restoring jobs on the Iron Range, securing our borders, holding the communist regime of China accountable, and restoring law and order to our streets. Only commonsense leadership and balance in the U.S. Senate will do that. I intend to provide that balance.” 


Fmr. MN Congressman Jason Lewis calls for investigation into Democrats’ Floyd protest policy

Fmr. MN Congressman Jason Lewis calls for investigation into Democrats’ Floyd protest policy

May 31, 2020

The Minnesota Democratic leadership who created a “powder keg” of chaos in their state needs to be held accountable for their negligent policy, former Republican Congressman Jason Lewis urged Saturday.

In an interview on “Fox & Friends Weekend” with host Pete Hegseth, Lewis said Minnesotans were left in a “state of shock” over the “total absence of leadership” in their cities.

The third night of protests over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, at the hands of a 48-year-old white Minneapolis Police Officer, Derek Chauvin, turned even more violent on Friday evening with rioters destroying police vehicles, setting businesses alight , police shooting rubber bullets at members of the media and using excessive force against those who stood in their way.

Chauvin was arrested on Friday afternoon, but it had been days after a video of Floyd’s killing went viral.

On Saturday, however, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced that he had authorized “full mobilization” of the state’s National Guard – something that has never been done in the 164-year history of the Minnesota National Guard. According to Walz, protests had devolved and the cause of those who took to the streets no longer had anything to do with Floyd’s death.

“This has been a crisis in leadership the likes of which we have never seen in Minnesota,” Lewis remarked. You know, a week and a half ago or so I said the idea of putting the infected in nursing homes under the COVID crisis — we have the highest nursing home rate of fatalities in the country in Minnesota — while quarantining the healthy and destroying Minnesota businesses was the largest policy blunder in history. I should have waited a week.”

Lewis told Hegseth that rioters were denying thousands of Minnesota residents the “very due process” denied to Floyd by destroying lives and livelihoods.

“This has nothing to do with the memory of Mr. Floyd,” he asserted. “Everybody was on board and getting to the bottom of that. But Democrats in charge in Minnesota…are now trying to push the blame someplace else? They’re the ones [who] created this powder keg. They’re the ones [who] have been in charge.”

“We all believe there’s a federal investigation warranted under the 14th amendment and under the color of law that policemen and women operate, but that was already happening,” Lewis exclaimed. “These people are deflecting blame for their own negligence.”

“And I will tell you, heads need to roll here. This has been a devastating week for the state of Minnesota,” he concluded.


Jason Lewis wins GOP Senate endorsement

Jason Lewis wins GOP Senate endorsement

May 30, 2020

Republican Jason Lewis is officially his party’s pick to challenge DFL incumbent U.S. Sen. Tina Smith this November.

The former congressman and radio host won an endorsement vote by a landslide during a virtual Minnesota Republican Party convention held Saturday.

Lewis, who lost a suburban swing district in 2018, has been a vocal critic of top Democrats’ handling on issues ranging from the coronavirus pandemic to protests that turned violent in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Saturday’s remote vote was the party’s second attempt at picking a candidate for the only statewide seat on the ballot in 2020. An earlier attempt to hold a virtual convention was canceled amid software problems.

In addition to endorsement votes and other party business, the annual convention usually gives candidates and party leaders an opportunity to rally supporters heading into the election season. But both the GOP and DFL had to scrap planned in-person affairs amid the coronavirus pandemic this year, moving to remote formats instead.

The DFL Party was also supposed to meet virtually this weekend but postponed its plans as unrest continued in the wake of Floyd’s death. Chair Ken Martin said delaying “was the only appropriate course of action given the grief and anger gripping much of our state and nation.”


Jason Lewis Calls for Curfew Amid Minneapolis Riots, Slams City Leaders for ‘Incompetence’

Jason Lewis Calls for Curfew Amid Minneapolis Riots, Slams City Leaders for ‘Incompetence’

May 29, 2020

U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis called on Minneapolis leaders to institute a curfew in response to the ongoing riots that have left portions of the city in ruins.

“For many decades now, with only a rare exception or two, Minneapolis and St. Paul have been governed by liberal Democrats. The promise of a new day or the ‘good life’ has animated their political ascendancy but the reality is things have deteriorated to the breaking point we are now witnessing,” Lewis said in a statement.

The former Republican congressman called the death of George Floyd “an injustice that must be corrected.”

“Turning the local Auto Zone into a war zone does nothing to relieve the grief of George Floyd’s family. Just the opposite, the best thing we can do to honor Mr. Floyd’s memory is an immediate return to order and a long-term commitment to restoring opportunity for everyone in our cities,” said Lewis.

“In the meantime, we cannot allow our neighborhoods and their businesses to perish. How sadly ironic that these elected officials in Minneapolis and St. Paul have been so intent on a ‘peacetime’ stay-at-home curfew when now is the time they should be calling for one,” he continued.

Gov. Tim Walz activated the Minnesota National Guard Thursday afternoon as the chaos and destruction showed no signs of slowing down.

“Race relations are worse than ever along with the crime rate. Housing is out of reach, taxes are at record levels, and a substandard education, despite spending increases, is the norm for too many inner-city children,” Lewis concluded. “To those who say this is politicizing a tragedy – check your own post on Twitter. Besides, that happened long ago from leftist politicians, who should be running their cities, but instead have been blaming every conservative under the sun for decades of incompetence.”


Jason Lewis Calls on Governor Walz to Uphold Minnesota’s Civil Liberties

Jason Lewis Calls on Governor Walz to Uphold Minnesota’s Civil Liberties

Lewis was frustrated to see that “Nothing Governor Tim Walz said [in the press conference] had any effect on the concerns we raised in the lawsuit we’ve filed. For the sake of all Minnesotans as well as our campaign, we look forward to making our case in court.”

May 23, 2020

Jason Lewis, a candidate for U.S. Senate, addressed the pitfalls of Governor Tim Walz’s press conference extending the lockdown deadline. The lockdown has been in order for over 7 weeks, and Walz has prolonged the ‘stay safe Minnesota’ ordinance well into June.

Lewis was frustrated to see that “nothing Governor Tim Walz said [in the press conference] had any effect on the concerns we raised in the lawsuit we’ve filed. For the sake of all Minnesotans as well as our campaign, we look forward to making our case in court.”

Lewis found himself confused that public servants like Governor Walz “and Tina Smith, who remains AWOL while Minnesota small businesses ask for help—continue to take inadequate baby steps towards restoring Minnesotans’ civil liberties. Giving small business permission to operate at a loss at 25 or 50% capacity without a clear end in sight does little to relieve the economic desperation we are seeing across our state.”

Building from the loss of civil liberties, the social restrictions placed on Minnesotans remain “glaringly inconsistent” according to Jason Lewis. “Restaurants can take up to 50 people with reservations in advance on their patio” which well exceeds the 10-person limit, but indoor establishments get even less relief. “Churches and other gatherings are still limited to 10 people. The government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers!”

This comes in the wake of a victory for religious liberty here in Minnesota. Minnesota’s Catholic Bishops will be reopening churches for Mass at 33% capacity, boldly defying Governor Tim Walz’s decree that limits the size of religious services to 10 people.

Lewis asserts that “this never-ending one-size-fits-all economic lockdown” must come to an end for Minnesota. He has visited dozens of business owners on his ‘Reopen Minnesota for Business’ tour in recent weeks, and “can say with certainty that Governor Walz’s continued blanket restrictions completely disregard the different situations on the ground across Minnesota—at the expense of restaurants to salons, family farms to retailers.”

Lewis claims that this isn’t just a battle to reopen Minnesota, but rather a ”fight for our fundamental liberties.” He concluded by saying “Attorney General William Barr was right when he said ‘there is no pandemic exception’ to the Constitution. The Governor’s continuation of unilateral guidelines did nothing to change that.”


Lewis Stands With POTUS and MN Churches

Lewis Stands With POTUS and MN Churches

May 22, 2020

U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis released the following statement on President Donald Trump’s announcement allowing churches to reopen immediately.

“Prohibiting worshipping during this lockdown is just the latest attempt at restricting religious freedom by radicals like Senator Tina Smith and Governor Tim Walz. From Little Sisters of the Poor to florists, bakers and even Minnesota filmmakers, liberal Democrats seem to be at war with those who practice according to their religious conscience. On this Memorial Day weekend, what’s next, removing the cross on the tombstones at Ft. Snelling?

I applaud the churches and clergy in Minnesota who showed the resolve to stand up to the Governor’s autocratic order unfairly restricting religious gatherings. No sensible person would consider abortion clinics and liquor stores ‘essential’ and places of worship during a period of social isolation ‘non-essential.’


‘Let the healthy go about their business’: GOP Senate candidate Jason Lewis on pandemic, election

‘Let the healthy go about their business’: GOP Senate candidate Jason Lewis on pandemic, election

May 22, 2020

Minnesota Republicans will try again next weekend to hold their statewide virtual endorsing convention. The first attempt last weekend was halted due to technical problems.

The key order of business is choosing a candidate to run against DFL U.S. Sen. Tina Smith. The front runner in that race is former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis. He said the Republican party has evolved considerably in the last few years and is better poised to win statewide races in Minnesota this fall.

Anticipating his party’s endorsement for U.S. Senate at the virtual convention next week, Lewis told All Things Considered host Tom Crann the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic will be a defining issue in this fall’s election.

“We all want to be safe. I do think that there is a proper policy,” he said. “Mine would be to focus on those nursing homes, on congregated living centers where clearly the virus is most deadly, most dangerous, and let young and healthy [people] go about their business.“

Earlier this week, Lewis filed a lawsuit against Gov. Tim Walz, claiming his recent executive orders are unconstitutional.

“A right to travel has been part of our jurisprudence for a couple of centuries now,” the Republican said. “When you have limits on traveling, limits on public gatherings, limits on the ability to do and go and assemble, that’s clearly an infringement upon that right.”