OP-ED—WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Three ways big government is squeezing young people

OP-ED—WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Three ways big government is squeezing young people

Jason Lewis
02/19/2020

Young people need more than protests.

For decades, bad public policy has been economically squeezing the next generation as never before. Whether Generation X, millennial, or even Generation Z, younger generations now find themselves in too much debt with too little income. The answer isn’t to embrace socialism but to end the sort of crony capitalism that has priced too many young people out of getting a good start in life.

This is especially true when it comes to education, housing, and healthcare.

For too long, the exorbitant costs of higher education have been rising, outpacing all other expenses that younger consumers face. The inability to service the debt on a $1.6 trillion student loan bubble is directly tied to a lack of transparency and all too often an illiberal education, to boot. Democrats say they want to forgive trillions in student debt, but that’s just code for another bailout of Big Education. It merely transfers the bill to taxpayers while doing absolutely nothing to rein in costs.

The 115th Congress, in which I served, sought to address the problem. We tried to strengthen workforce development, streamline Title IV student aid, and require that colleges and universities have more skin in the game when it comes to defaults. Naturally, Democrats blocked this.

These wealthy institutions of higher learning receive billions of taxpayer dollars annually, not that they need it, given their revenue from billion-dollar endowments and big-money athletics. If they can’t or won’t reduce tuition rates, Congress should consider imposing price controls on federal aid.

Meanwhile, homeownership is fast becoming another luxury out of reach for young people trying to get a leg up. Again, government intervention is largely to blame. For years, politicians have been underwriting the costs of housing and then bailing out investors while inflating home prices with overregulation, urban growth boundaries, and cheap money.

The inevitable housing bubble that followed might have been great for real estate investors and the wealthy who already own property, but it was, and remains, horrible for first-time buyers.

A recent Housing First Minnesota study showed that up to one-third of a new home’s price in the Twin Cities comes from fees and regulations, making it nearly impossible to build a single-family home in the metro area for under $375,000.

Meanwhile, unelected bureaucrats at the Metropolitan Council in the Twin Cities have strong-armed the suburbs with “smart growth” policies that limit cheaper housing in the name of high-density development in mass transit corridors. Costs have naturally escalated, along with disturbing levels of crime, hardly a conducive environment for starting a family.

Finally, the healthcare affordability crisis has hit young adults especially hard. As so many of us warned, the primary outcome of the billions spent on the Affordable Care Act has been skyrocketing insurance premiums, most pronounced for the young and healthy.

By forcing those in better health to overinsure with a one-size-fits-all approach, the ACA priced millions out of the market. States such as Minnesota have even been forced to buy down premiums with millions more in taxpayer dollars, but that hasn’t kept up.

Indeed, for those who don’t qualify for subsidies, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports a 40% decline in enrollment between 2016 and 2018.

No wonder all the calculations have been so horribly off the mark. Only half the enrollees predicted by the Congressional Budget Office when the law was passed are actually getting their insurance today on exchanges such as MNSure.

Perhaps this is why the architects of Obamacare let grown children stay on their parents’ plans. They knew they wouldn’t be able to afford it on their own.

The solution is straightforward: Let young people buy precisely the kind of health insurance, including more affordable, catastrophic plans, they want.

Whether it’s education, housing, or healthcare, our liberal friends continue their cynical ploy of promising something for nothing, but I suspect young voters are becoming increasingly woke to what Elizabeth Warren won’t admit: The “something” is coming right out of their rising middle-class tax bill.

Jason Lewis, a former member of the House, is a Republican candidate to represent Minnesota in the Senate.

To view original article, visit: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/three-ways-big-government-is-squeezing-young-people

MARSHALL INDEPENDENT: Lewis brings Senate campaign to Greater MN

MARSHALL INDEPENDENT: Lewis brings Senate campaign to Greater MN

Deb Gau
01/31/2020

MARSHALL — Former U.S. Representative Jason Lewis has been back on the campaign trail since August, in a bid to unseat Sen. Tina Smith. And this month, the emphasis has been on Greater Minnesota.

“We think Greater Minnesota has sort of been the forgotten man and woman in politics in Minnesota, that no one has represented them. Whether it’s rural health care, but also energy, logging and mining,” Lewis said Wednesday, during a stop in Marshall. “For those people that think the only things that matter in statewide elections are Hennepin and Ramsey County, there’s 85 other counties that matter just as much to me. And we’re going to make certain they have a voice. And quite frankly, the numbers are such that, if you win that, you win the race.”

Lewis, a former radio talk show host and congressman representing Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District, is running for U.S. Senate as a Republican candidate against Smith.

“I wanted to go where I could have the most impact in the quickest amount of time. We have a golden opportunity here — the best opportunity we’ve had in decades — to get a little balance back into the Senate, and Minnesota traditionally has had balance,” Lewis said. Now, Minnesota has two Democratic senators. “I think there’s a need there, but there’s also an opportunity to really move the needle towards, in my view, more freedom and more prosperity, more constitutional jurisprudence,” he said.

Last week, Lewis kicked off a campaign tour that has taken him through several northern and southern Minnesota cities so far. On Wednesday, he met with the Independent in Marshall, after a tour stop in Luverne, where he met with local health care providers. Lewis said the discussion in Luverne talked about both developments in rural health care, like telemedicine, and the need to keep rural health care services viable.

“Basically it’s reimbursement for the providers and clinics and doctors and nurses, to make it viable for them to keep their facilities in rural Minnesota. That’s going to be a key challenge going forward, to make certain we’ve got facilities that will meet the needs of rural Minnesotans. It’s very key that we not try to be penny wise and pound foolish, like ‘Medicare for all’ schemes that would drastically slash the viability of rural medicine and rural medical care,” Lewis said.

“The bottom line is, you’ve got to make certain people can buy the plan they want, and get the medicine they want, with the doctor and provider they want. So that means cleaning up the system a little bit,” he said.

Lewis said he also supported industry and international trade — two subjects crucial to the survival of Greater Minnesota communities. In the northern part of the state, that meant supporting mining and logging, and the Enbridge oil pipeline replacement project.

“If you take a look at copper-nickel (mining), Twin Metals and PolyMet on the (Iron) Range, you take a look at Enbridge Line 3, and fixing some things with regard to logging, especially renewable fuel for forest biomass, you’re looking at 10,000-15,000 jobs on the Range. That is a huge economic impact, $5.9 billion in total,” Lewis said. However, he said those projects weren’t getting support from Democrats like Smith and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Lewis said trade deals like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and agreements with China and Japan, were all “absolutely vital” to agriculture in Minnesota.

“Getting USMCA done, which we almost had done in my last year in Congress, but has been sitting on the sideline for a year now because Nancy Pelosi wouldn’t get it out — that was a big victory. Trade with Mexico and Canada, and especially opening up those dairy markets in Canada,” he said.

Lewis made some headlines during a campaign stop in Bemidji last week when he spoke out in support of Beltrami County’s decision not to accept refugees. On Wednesday, he said he stood by his remarks. He said there are costs that go with refugee resettlement, whether direct costs like SNAP benefits or public housing, or indirect costs to the education and corrections systems, that local governments should have a voice in.

“Minnesota has 2% of the (U.S.) population, and we have 13% of the nation’s refugees. There does become a critical mass in this, that sometimes communities can’t handle it. Refugees are not like illegal immigrants. They’re vetted. They’re legal. They aren’t even like people seeking asylum. They’ve already been approved by the State Department. But the problem is there’s a moral hazard writ large in this when you pay the refugee resettlement organizations,” Lewis said. “When you pay them a stipend to resettle, and the sooner they can get those folks on public assistance the less it costs them, you have induced an incentive that doesn’t always work for the benefit of the community.”

Beyond that, Lewis said, he believed in local control.

“You have the very same people who think local municipalities ought to control the sanctuary city movement, but don’t want local control over whether people ought to accept refugees? I can’t have one without the other,” he said. “I absolutely reserve the right for local government to engage in self-government, so people can live under the laws they choose.”

To view original article, visit: https://www.marshallindependent.com/news/local-news/2020/01/lewis-brings-senate-campaign-to-greater-mn/

WDIO: Jason Lewis Promotes Campaign for U.S. Senate in Northland

WDIO: Jason Lewis Promotes Campaign for U.S. Senate in Northland

01/26/2020

Former U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District, Jason Lewis announced his run for United States Senate in August of last year. Across Northern Minnesota, Lewis has been promoting his campaign. On Sunday, he stopped in Duluth.

“We’re really focused on greater Minnesota so the folks out here have a voice. We think that the forgotten man or woman of greater Minnesota whether it’s on the Iron Range or over at Enbridge Line 3, Beltrami County or farmers out West or down south—they need a voice,” Lewis said. “We love the Twin Cities, but everything isn’t the Twin Cities so we’re trying to make certain since we launched our campaign in August to spend a lot of time out here and we have.”

On his campaign tour, he visited Brainerd, Bemidji and Ely before stopping in Duluth.

In Bemidji, Lewis held a town hall event focused on refugee resettlement, where he showed support for Beltrami County’s vote to opt-out of refugee resettlement. He said he stands with President Trump’s executive order on refugee resettlement.

“Local government, government that’s closest to people is the epitome of self-government and they ought to live under the laws they create,” Lewis said.

In Ely, Lewis toured Twin Metals and met with some pro-mining groups including Fight For Mining Minnesota and Minnesota Miners. He said he hopes to get Minnesota moving again through safe and responsible mining, energy, and timber industries.

“If you add up Line 3, Polymet, Twin Metals and other companies looking in, you’re looking at $5.9 billion in new economic growth, you’re looking at ten to fifteen thousand jobs direct and indirect. It would be a variable economic growth for the Iron Range,” Lewis said.

Lewis will be taking on Senator Tina Smith. He believes his experience in congress will be helpful in the senate. Additionally, he has been endorsed by President Donald Trump.

To view original article, visit: https://www.wdio.com/news/jason-lewis/5623950/?cat=10335

KBJR6.com: Former Congressman, Jason Lewis, running for U.S. Senate

KBJR6.com: Former Congressman, Jason Lewis, running for U.S. Senate

John Cardinale
01/26/2020

DULUTH, MN– The former U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District, Jason Lewis, announced back in August that he will be running for the United States Senate.

He has been campaigning around the northland and Sunday he stopped in Duluth.

Lewis, a Republican, has spent the last month campaigning on the Iron Range learning more about mining.

He says he believes copper-nickel mining could be the next renaissance for the Range.

Lewis says he is also a big supporter of local units of government making their own decisions for their community.

Lewis says he wants to specifically make sure rural communities have a voice.

“I firmly believe their voice has not been heard. The voices out here in greater Minnesota whether it is on the range or western Minnesota or southern Minnesota. They seem like the forgotten man and women of Minnesota. Everything is so centric to the cities and so I am making a deliberate attempt to make sure their voices are heard and they will be heard if I am the next senator,” Lewis said.

Lewis will be taking on Senator Tina Smith.

He believes his experience in congress will be helpful in the senate.

Additionally, he has been endorsed by President Donald Trump.

To view original article, visit: https://kbjr6.com/2020/01/26/former-congressman-jason-lewis-running-for-u-s-senate-2/

LAKELAND PBS: U.S. Senate Candidate Talks Refugee Resettlement In Bemidji

LAKELAND PBS: U.S. Senate Candidate Talks Refugee Resettlement In Bemidji

Malaak Khattab
01/24/2020

U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis held a town hall meeting in Bemidji today to talk about Beltrami County’s recent decision on refugee resettlement, where, in a 3-2 vote, commissioners said no to accepting local involvement in refugee resettlement.

Lewis, a Republican, is running to unseat Democratic Senator Tina Smith in 2020.

To view original article, visit: https://lptv.org/u-s-senate-candidate-talks-refugee-resettlement-in-bemidji/

BRAINERD DISPATCH: Lewis stumps for pro-Greater Minnesota platform in Senate bid

BRAINERD DISPATCH: Lewis stumps for pro-Greater Minnesota platform in Senate bid

Gabriel D. Legarde
01/24/2020

Former Congressman Jason Lewis talks Thursday, Jan. 23, about the issues in his upcoming challenge to U.S. Senator Tina Smith at the Brainerd Dispatch. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Republican Senate candidate Jason Lewis stopped by Brainerd on the first stop Thursday, Jan. 23, of a multi-city tour in what the former congressman calls a push to connect with rural voters through an unapologetically pro-Greater Minnesota message.

“This is going to be a campaign about Greater Minnesota,” Lewis said. “For far too long Greater Minnesota has been neglected, I think, by some of the state’s federal office holders and that’s gotta be a thing of the past. What we’re seeing is whether it’s on the Iron Range, Crow Wing County, or — doesn’t really matter where it is — there are voices not being heard.”

Lewis has doubled down on that count — spending upwards of six weeks total traveling throughout Minnesota. During this week alone, he planned to stop at Brainerd, Mankato, Luverne, Bemidji, Duluth and Ely before it’s said and done. In contrast, he said, his opponent, incumbent Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., is decidedly rooted in the urban Twin Cities, where the vast majority of her supporters, collaborators and moneyed interests reside.

While Lewis has spent much of his life in the Woodbury suburb of the Twin Cities metro, or out of state in Colorado and Iowa, he said it’s a matter of shared experience to reach rural Minnesotans. This shared experience is one he’s acquired, he said, through years spent in small towns, or vacationing along the Whitefish Chain, or listening to rural concerns about estate taxes, broadband, mining or job development.

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 and 2015.

Smith — who Lewis dubbed the “accidental senator” — represents a leftward shift away from the historical balance Republicans and Democrats in Minnesotan have enjoyed in the past.

While he had hoped Smith would be more moderate during her tenure on Capitol Hill, Lewis said, Smith has come to represent the “academic elite,” the “resistance,” and the “professional protester crowd.” He said Smith hasn’t publicly opposed progressive initiatives like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, although he acknowledged Smith hasn’t publicly supported either initiative as well.

On the other hand, Lewis pointed to the 2016 GOP tax bill, which he credited with leading to the lowest unemployment rate in half a century, promoting wage increases for the lowest earning workers, and spurring economic growth across the nation. Successful policies like these represent why President Donald Trump shifted the political paradigm away from decades of Democratic control in 2016, Lewis said, and it points to how he intends to beat Smith in 2020.

Entitlements

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump spoke Wednesday on the topic of entitlements — particularly, Social Security and Medicaid — and stated any options to rein in entitlement spending would be the “easiest of all things” to counteract a swelling federal deficit that’s tacked on nearly $3 trillion in national debt during his presidency.

Lewis iterated at multiple points that programs like Social Security and Medicaid have to be restructured and reformed to ensure they’re sustainable for the future. Included in the 2016 GOP tax bill was a $200 billion reduction in mandatory spending for entitlement programs — a reduction Lewis lauded. He said this represents one direction the federal government should take to further curb unnecessary spending.

Lewis pointed to Medicaid expansions under Obamacare and noted increased subsidies and coverage for able-bodied, childless adults presented one such case of wasteful investments by the federal government.

“You have to address mandatory spending, because it’s the bulk of the budget. You’ve got a $4.1 trillion budget, literally $3 trillion of that is entitlement spending,” Lewis said. “If we do nothing for Social Security and the money starts to run out in 2035, benefits will be cut by 25% and I won’t stand for that.”

Payroll taxes, which form the lifeblood of Social Security, are an area of focus. Lewis said much of his approach is driven by economic growth and stable, well-paying jobs for employees, in contrast to Smith, which proposes a higher tax rate on people’s wages.

Raising the retirement age isn’t a concern for people who are currently eligible or near eligible to receive Social Security benefits, said Lewis, who noted he’s in favor of maintaining that standard for older Minnesotans, but added a higher retirement age may be necessary to ensure benefits are still around for younger Minnesotans down the road.

Tax bill ramifications

In terms of the 2016 GOP tax bill and its effects on the U.S. economy, supporters, including Lewis, have pointed to a booming stock market and record low unemployment, while critics, including Smith, have noted the bill increased the nation’s debt load by $1.5 trillion and largely benefited wealthier Americans and corporations.

Lewis said the bill incurred a $1.5 trillion debt, but was offset by increased federal revenues that matched and exceeded, if slightly, the burden placed on Washington to fill the gap previously accounted for by tax income. However, Lewis did not specify how the federal government accrued these revenues, or if they would be used to help pay off the nation’s growing $23 trillion debt load, which he termed an “existential crisis” during discussions with the Dispatch.

To better limit spending, Lewis said audits of federal agencies where wasteful spending can be in the billions, including the Pentagon, are in order, as well as accompanying legislation to ensure the budget process is transparent, carefully considered and productive. He noted it has to be a holistic and unsparing approach, not one that favors a particular aspect of government over another.

“You can’t say, we’re going to leave the Pentagon alone and cut social programs. Chuck Schumer would never go for that. At the same time, you can’t say we’ll gut the Pentagon and up spending on social programs. Republicans, rightfully, would never go for that,” Lewis said. “We have to say, ‘Everybody put a limit on the growth.’”

To see original article visit: https://www.brainerddispatch.com/news/government-and-politics/4879485-Lewis-stumps-for-pro-Greater-Minnesota-platform-in-Senate-bid

THE BEMIDJI PIONEER: U.S. Senate candidate discusses refugees in campaign visit to Bemidji

THE BEMIDJI PIONEER: U.S. Senate candidate discusses refugees in campaign visit to Bemidji

Matthew J. Liedke
01/23/2020

U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis speaks during a town hall on Thursday, Jan. 23, at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Bemidji, Minn. (Jillian Gandsey / Forum News Service)

BEMIDJI — A former congressman and candidate for U.S. Senate held an event in Bemidji on Thursday to meet with voters and discuss the refugee topic that’s been circulating in the community for most of January.

Jason Lewis, who’s running on the Republican side to unseat Sen. Tina Smith, held the event where he spoke about his platform, with a focus on the refugee topic, and took questions.

The topic stems from a Beltrami County Board meeting on Jan. 7 where commissioners voted 3-2 to opt out of the United States Refugee Resettlement Program. The action was authorized by an executive order from President Trump, which gave state and local government units the authority to either opt in or out of the program.

Since Jan. 7, the action has become temporarily null after an injunction was issued in federal court halting the executive order. However, the subject has remained a hot-button issue locally.

The Jan. 7 meeting had a crowd of about 200, while the county’s meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21, attracted nearly 150 people. Lewis’ event also had a big crowd, with roughly 100 people on both sides of the issue turning out to hear him speak.

Following the county’s vote earlier this month, Lewis said he supported the decision in a press release. On Thursday, he reiterated his backing of the 3-2 vote.

“What is wrong with a county, in a free country and a free state, saying ‘we’re concerned about costs and we’re concerned about this fiscally, so let’s take a pause?'” Lewis said. “That’s why I’m here. I wanted to make certain that you’re not alone. That you’re good people just trying to do what’s best for your community.”

As part of his comments, Lewis said a key part of his support for the county was the local control in the decision.

“What is so scary about local control, when the people clamoring the loudest for sanctuary cities on the basis of local control want nothing to do with an executive order on refugee local control,” Lewis said.

During the question-and-answer part of the event, an attendee asked the candidate about the possibility of changing laws to not allow Muslims to hold office, to which Lewis said, “I would not be in favor of that. Religious affiliation can never be a test for public office. We can do our battles on what it means to preserve what it means to be an American without getting into a religious test.”

Before running for the Senate seat, Lewis, a former radio host, served a term in the United States House of Representatives, winning in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District in 2016. In 2018 he was defeated by Rep. Angie Craig.

On the GOP side of the 2020 race, Lewis is competing with assistant North Central University professor Rob Barrett Jr.

To see original article, visit: https://www.bemidjipioneer.com/news/government-and-politics/4879437-U.S.-Senate-candidate-discusses-refugees-in-campaign-visit

KIMT: SHOWING SUPPORT FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP IN SE MINNESOTA

KIMT: SHOWING SUPPORT FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP IN SE MINNESOTA

Isabella Basco
12/05/2019

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. 

To view original article, visit: https://www.kimt.com/content/news/trumpunity-565874791.html

STAR TRIBUNE: Trump rally jumpstarts GOP push for Minnesota

STAR TRIBUNE: Trump rally jumpstarts GOP push for Minnesota

Stephen Montemayor & Patrick Condon
10/12/2019

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.

To view original article, visit: http://www.startribune.com/trump-rally-jumpstarts-gop-push-for-minnesota/562934452/