Jason Lewis Promises To Fight For Struggling Business Owners Across Minnesota

Jason Lewis Promises To Fight For Struggling Business Owners Across Minnesota

May 7, 2020

U.S. Senate hopeful Jason Lewis held a small business roundtable in Crosslake. Several dozen business owners were in attendance representing many different interests in the northern region of the state. The roundtable was hosted at the resort, Boyd Lodge, which has been a family-owned small business for three generations.

Lewis has made many stops across the state for his “Open Minnesota Tour.”

Minnesota’s stay-at-home order was extended to May 18th by Governor Tim Walz. Lewis recognizes that this needs to be the last lockdown extension. He is advocating for resorts to re-open and restaurants to be able to utilize their outdoor patios for dining.

His extended family has had ties to the Crosslake and Whitefish Chain region for more than 60 years. “Sadly,” Lewis says, “many of the great mom-and-pop resorts here in Crosslake and around the state are on the brink of bankruptcy due to this government-mandated shutdown.”  

Lewis personally spoke with many business owners in the Brainerd Lakes region and found they all share the same concern over the permanent closure of their livelihoods. 

Lewis goes on to say, “summers in Minnesota are short, and resorts and small businesses rely on the summer tourism to keep their doors open. If we don’t get Minnesota re-opened soon, they might have to close their businesses – for good.”

“Many of these resorts have been in the family for generations. It would be a travesty to see lifetimes of work could go down the drain if we don’t get Minnesota working again. We can’t let that happen,” Lewis emphasized.

“This next two-week extension of the stay-at-home order (until May 18th) needs to be the end of this.” It is only reasonable that Minnesotans get back on their feet after this health and economic crisis, and for the Brainerd region, that means “resorts need to be able to re-open. Restaurants should be able to have their outdoor patios open for dining. People should be able to get out and enjoy their favorite Minnesota lake.”

Lewis highlighted that opening up our state’s economy can be done safely and responsibly, while ensuring that the vulnerable among us are protected. “Senator Tina Smith needs to stop cowering in place and stand up for Minnesotans who risk losing their life’s work. To deprive Minnesotans of the right to earn a living is not being a good leader,” Lewis concluded. 


U.S. Senate Candidate Talks Reopening MN For Business in Crosslake

U.S. Senate Candidate Talks Reopening MN For Business in Crosslake

May 4, 2020

U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis brought his “Re-open Minnesota For Business” roundtable tour to Crosslake on Saturday.

The Republican hopeful had a conversation with several of Brainerd Lakes area businesses on his idea of opening up the state immediately. Lewis emphasized the idea that the stay-at-home order should be lifted because of the effect it’s having on small businesses and the state’s economy.

Last week, the state’s stay-at-home order was extended to May 18th by Gov. Tim Walz. Lewis says that extension needs to be the end of it and is advocating re-opening resorts and for restaurants to be able to use their outdoor patios for dining.


Minnesotans should be wary of ‘mail-in votes’

Minnesotans should be wary of ‘mail-in votes’

By Jason Lewis and John Lott

May 2, 2020

Last month, United States Senator Tina Smith voted twice to hold up coronavirus economic relief. We need not speculate as to why Democrats delayed passage of this bill if we take House Majority Whip James Clyburn at his word when he told his colleagues this pandemic is a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

One of the provisions that Democrats were demanding was increased federal control over state and local elections in the form of vote by mail/early voting. If there’s one single place where voters should be wary of “mail in” ballots, it’s Minnesota. Voting by mail may be the last straw for ballot integrity in a state that already has some of the nation’s most lax guidelines for elective franchise.

Minnesota is one of the few states that doesn’t even have provisional ballots. Such ballots are required by the 2002 federal HAVA law and are designed for voters who are unable to provide sufficient evidence of eligibility. Instead of setting aside these questionable votes (non-residents, illegal immigrants, felons on probation, or parolees) to be tallied once verification checks are complete, Minnesota just goes ahead and counts them. Throwing illegitimate votes out of the system is much more difficult once they are already cast. And Minnesota sure makes it easy to cast votes. States with same-day voter registration are presumed to demand “documentation” to verify identities. Yet Minnesota, which has SDR, doesn’t require a photo ID or much of anything substantive. In fact, a utility bill, credit card, student fee statement or just another voter who will “vouch” for you are all deemed sufficient evidence.

Research shows that voter turnout falls when an electorate is concerned about fraud. People, after all, worry that their vote won’t count. More stringent voting rules may reassure voters and actually raise voter participation rates.

Instead of ensuring election day integrity, Minnesota puts its faith in recounts. In 2008, a recount dragged on for eight months and turned a 725 vote victory by Norm Coleman into a 312 vote loss to Al Franken. Not surprisingly, the Franken path to victory was based on mailed absentee ballots that were “mistakenly” rejected.

Minnesota should heed the warnings of the 2005 “Building Confidence in U.S. Elections” report by the Commission on Federal Election Reform. The report was chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker III and it cautioned, “absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.” The report raised numerous concerns about fraud and voter intimidation in mail-in voting. “Citizens who vote at home, at nursing homes, at the workplace, or in church are more susceptible to pressure, overt and subtle, or to intimidation. Vote buying schemes are far more difficult to detect when citizens vote by mail,” the report states.

There have been no new advancements since that allow us to better detect such voter discrepancies. Vote buying has long been a concern and was a major reason states adopted secret ballots between 1888 and 1950. When buyers couldn’t check which candidates a person voted for, vote buying became much more difficult. Research finds that voter turnout fell by about 8–12 percent after states adopted a secret ballot—in part because people were no longer paid to vote.

The Commission provided numerous examples of fraud with mail-in ballots. And there have been more cases since then. In 2017, 700 fraudulent mail-in ballots were discovered in a Dallas City Council election, all signed with fake names by a single person. The discovery postponed calling two city council races, and was much larger than the vote difference in one of those races. The case resulted in a criminal conviction.

In a 2018 North Carolina Congressional race, Republican Mark Harris edged out Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes. But political operative McCrae Dowless had requested more than 1,200 absentee ballots on behalf of voters, collected from voters’ homes that he and his staff then filled out and sent in. Dowless currently faces criminal charges. Often, impossibly large numbers of people supposedly live at the same address. In San Pedro, California in 2016, eighty-three registered voters received absentee ballots at the same small, two-bedroom apartment. When these types of cases arise, they are virtually never prosecuted. Of course, any attempt to tighten these massive loopholes will be labeled “voter suppression.” But the Carter-Baker report said clearly: “Photo IDs currently are needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings and cash a check. Voting is equally important.”

In October 2021, Minnesotans will be asked to have a “real ID” to board a flight. Instead of weakening ballot integrity, the “real ID” card should, as the Carter-Baker commission noted, “be modestly adapted for voting purposes to indicate on the front or back whether the individual is a U.S. citizen.”

Former Rep. Lewis is a candidate for US Senate in Minnesota and Mr. John Lott is President of the Crime Prevention Research Center.


Lewis traveling state on “Reopen Minnesota for business” tour

Lewis traveling state on “Reopen Minnesota for business” tour

May 1, 2020

Minutes before Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced he would extend the state’s stay-at-home order another two weeks, U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis and a group of business professionals in Albert Lea met to discuss the need to reopen the state for business. 

Lewis, a Republican, is running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, who was appointed to the seat in 2018 to replace former U.S. Sen. Al Franken. Lewis previously served one term in the 2nd District of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Lewis, who met with a group of people at Robert Hoffman Realty in downtown Albert Lea, said he thinks evidence shows that all that is being done with the stay-at-home order and business closures or modifications is delaying the onset of COVID-19 and prolonging the period the most vulnerable would be at risk. He said this was the first time in his life that he has seen healthy people be quarantined. 

Lewis said this is leading to a rise in mental health issues and suicides, and he said he thinks health care costs that result from the restrictions will be worse than the costs from the virus itself. 

“They’re going to dwarf anything we’re going through with COVID,” he said. 

He said he feared some politicians are using COVID-19 to expand their power and said he is trying to be a voice for small business owners, many of which are struggling. 

He also said he is worried about people who need treatment such as hip replacements and biopsies, whose problems are worsening as they have not been able to be seen, and farmers who are having to euthanize hogs because processing plants are closed. 

The markets need to start functioning, he said.

“This is not a matter of market failure or the markets failing to function,” Lewis said. “This is a matter of the government killing the market.” 

John Schipper, co-owner of Schipp’s Pro Power Wash and TankerKleen company, asked why restaurant and bar owners are being punished when people can go to places such as Walmart and it seems everyone is touching everything. 

Dori Etheridge of Peppered Cow, a food truck that started last year, said she was worried about all of the festivals and other outdoor events that are being canceled that she would normally attend. 

She asked why people can’t just be conscientious about the space around them.

Lewis said it comes down to trusting Minnesotans to do the right thing. 

“Let’s not exacerbate this any further,” Lewis said. “Let’s get back to work. We can do the things we need to do to make certain the elderly are safe, and we’ll defeat this thing like we’ve defeated every other virus….We’ve never taken measures like this before.”

Lewis has traveled to other places around the state, including Cloquet, Duluth, Good Thunder and Mankato. 


U.S. Senate candidate and business owners calling on Minnesota leaders to reopen to business

U.S. Senate candidate and business owners calling on Minnesota leaders to reopen to business

Former Congressman of Minnesota’s 2nd district Jason Lewis and many small business owners statewide are voicing their concerns that Governor Walz’ ‘Stay at Home’ order is having on their livelihoods

May 1, 2020

ALBERT LEA, MN – Local business owners are concerned about their future success, especially now following Governor Walz’ latest extension to the state’s ‘stay at home’ order.

Now, they’re taking their case to a former Congressman who is eyeing the U.S. Senate.

Beginning earlier this month, former Congressman Jason Lewis, who represented the state’s 2nd congressional district from 2017 to 2019, and currently vying for the Republican nomination to challenge Senator Tina Smith for the Senate this Fall, has been criss-crossing the state from Duluth to the Twin Cities to Rochester on the ‘Reopening Minnesota for Business’ tour, hearing from business owners who may lose everything if the Governor’s order is prolonged.

“These resorts and these restaurants up North aren’t going to survive another season without revenue.”

On Thursday, he took his case to Albert Lea during a roundtable discussion with small business owners.

“The cure is starting to become worse than the disease when you take a look at elective procedures that are being put off, even cancer biopsies. You’re looking at mom and pop businesses like on Broadway in Albert Lea that won’t reopen again. Dreams are being shattered for students, business people, and that eventually is going to have a greater social pathology or health cost than the virus. We’re coming into the summer season, the virus is leveling off, if not dropping. This is the time to reopen Minnesota and enough is enough.”

Despite moves like the Paycheck Protection Program aimed to keep individuals on their feet, Lewis says that temporary measures are not sustainable long-term.

“The government can provide temporary measures, but you can’t do this in perpetuity. The total federal budget is $4.2 trillion…we’re going to have a deficit in one year larger than the entire budget.”

Realtor Robert Hoffman was one of several small business owners in attendance at Thursday’s roundtable. He also owns and manages properties in town, and while his tenants have been able to pay for rent and other utilities, he’s concerned about the impact the longer the order is in place.

“Maintenance still has to happen, emergencies will still happen, management still has to happen. The mortgages on our buildings that we own are not forgiven. If a few places decided not to pay rent, everybody would be homeless through a foreclosure ultimately.”

He’s heard from business leaders in the community, including the owner and operator of a food truck, who is concerned that if events like fairs, festivals and concerts would be cancelled for the year, it would have a negative impact.

“She started it a few years ago…she got the business up and running after winning a competition, and now here she is a year later wondering the fate of her competition winning business.”

While many states are implementing a multi-phase approach to reopen businesses, he’s in favor of customers and owners having their personal choice.

“Let then everybody decide, ‘do I want to go to those restaurants yet? Do I want to list my house for sale yet? Do I want to get my haircut yet?’ But not limit them to make that decision.”


As local business finds loophole to reopen, Senate candidate applauds decision

As local business finds loophole to reopen, Senate candidate applauds decision

April 23, 2020

Todd Lundgren and his wife, Grace, have sold assorted lawn and home decors — as well as other trinkets and goodies found in their gift shop — along Interstate 35 for 17 years.

On a typical weekend, the Lundgrens see up to 100 visitors a day at their Country Goods gift shop in Owatonna. And on any given day they help at least one costumer select a memorial item for a deceased loved one.

When businesses began closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated executive orders from the governor’s office, Lundgren said they were both ready and willing to do the “patriotic, sacrificial thing” of closing up shop to help better protect public health. That was, however, until Lundgren felt a tinge of hypocrisy.

“I could have swallowed it better if I didn’t see the same stuff we sell being sold at Walmart and Fleet Farm and Home Depot,” Lundgren said. “It’s unfair. Walmart is able to sell the same stuff we sell, but we are required to be closed.”

When the Lundgrens heard that garden centers are considered essential businesses, they brought flowers and vegetables to their store in order to reopen.

“We were sitting here dying and we were starting to feel desperate,” said Todd Lundgren. “So we made ourselves essential.” Added Grace Lundgren, “We have been using our retirement to pay our bills. We ordered a lot of items months ago that we can’t cancel now — we owe thousands of dollars to our vendors.”

On top of the mountain of invoices needed to be paid and what they feel to be a double standard for what businesses are considered essential while others weren’t, the Lundgrens say the grants and loans available for small businesses have been anything but accessible. They had no luck with receiving help from the Small Business Administration and didn’t qualify to be covered under the Paycheck Protection Program. They tried reaching out to their local legislators, but the couple felt every turn the took just led them to another dead end.

Todd Lundgren, who took on a part-time job this week just to make ends meet, said they were going further into debt just to try to stay in business.

“We had gotten to a point of desperation, and if we were feeling desperate I can only imagine how the beauty shops and barbers and restaurants are feeling. But when it comes down to it, we all need to sort of take care of ourselves.”

Country Goods opened again Monday, offering an assortment of garden vegetables and flowers, as well as all their other products. The Lundgrens said that people immediately started coming in to do some shopping, including two women who drove up from Iowa on Thursday just to browse.

The couple also attracted attention from senate candidate Jason Lewis, a former 2nd Congressional District congressman now looking to unseat U.S. Sen. Tina Smith. Lewis, a Republican made a trip to Country Goods Thursday to hear more about the Lundgrens’ fight to keep their business alive.

Senate-hopeful Jason Lewis (center) interviews the owners of Country Goods in Owatonna about their decision to transform into the government’s definition of an essential business in order to keep their heads afloat. Owners Grace and Todd Lundgren stated that they have had to dip into their retirement funds and pick up part time work in order to pay their bills. (Annie Granlund/People’s Press)

“We need to start relaxing the restrictions in Minnesota before mom and pop shops like Country Goods go away,” Lewis said. “It is our God-given constitutional right to work, and I believe that the governor and other politicians are using this public health challenge to expand their power.”

Lewis told the Lundgrens that it is people like them who are putting everything they have on the line to reopen during the pandemic. He added that it’s not right to state that big box retail stores are essential when small shops like Country Goods are not.

“I would just like to see them tell those stores to make the nonessential areas unavailable to shoppers,” Lundgren said. “We have the guts and the courage to reopen because we simply want the government to make things consistent.”

Lewis agreed and applauded the Lundgrens for their decision, adding that allowing the government to define which jobs are essential and which are not is the picture of democratic socialism.

“I am just trying to shine the spotlight on people like [the Lundgrens] who are trying to live their lives,” Lewis said. “This is the heart of Americana.”

Reach Reporter Annie Granlund at 507-444-2378 or follow her on Twitter @OPPAnnie. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota.


Dead on Arms Indoor Shooting Range Continues to Be Closed During Stay-at-Home Order

Dead on Arms Indoor Shooting Range Continues to Be Closed During Stay-at-Home Order

April 24, 2020


Dead on Arms indoor shooting range in Cloquet is not open for public shooting during the state-wide stay-at-home order.

The range’s retail shop is still allowed to function but the owner says the shooting range is an important part of their business.

Owner Chad Walsh says the retail part of the shop has had steady business and that they have sold to many first-time gun buyers.

However, Walsh says he is losing 50 percent of his business with the closure of his indoor shooting range to the public.

Outdoor ranges are now allowed to operate and Walsh says his indoor range can be just as safe.

“We have stalls in here everybody has their own space and unlike out in the public we have a negative airflow which the ventilation actually pushes the air downrange away from the shooter which you don’t have that outside on a day with no wind you don’t have that do you,” said Chad Walsh.

Former US Congressman from Minnesota, Jason Lewis, was also on hand at the range Friday to talk about reopening the state.

He says small businesses like the gun range are the backbone of Minnesota and that they are getting the unfair brunt of the closure.

He wants to state to open back up and let Minnesotans decide for themselves what businesses are safe for them.

“When you reopen for business everyone isn’t going to congregate in one place they’re going to say what kind of precautions they are you taking or if you’re outside or on a range with the airflow that’s more safe people are going to say I’m going to go there,” said Lewis who is also running for US Senate.

Gov. Walz says his stay at home order will save lives by limiting the spread of coronavirus in Minnesota.

The Governor’s stay at home order is set to expire May 4.


Senate candidate’s “Open MN Tour” visits Duluth businesses

Senate candidate’s “Open MN Tour” visits Duluth businesses

April 24, 2020

DULUTH, Minn — One Duluth business owner says the decision on weather or not to open should be up to him.

Jerry Kortesmaki owns London Road Rental Center in Duluth.

His business has been open during the stay at home order to rent equipment to construction companies.

But he says he makes a good amount of his revenue from renting out party and event equipment, two things that haven’t been happening lately.

Kortesmaki spoke with US Senate candidate Jason Lewis during a stop on the republican’s “Open Minnesota Tour” in Duluth Friday.

Kortesmaki says he agrees with the former congressman’s position on opening the state and allowing businesses to have a choice.

“If a business doesn’t want to be open, they have every right to close at any point. No body is telling any business you have to be open, that’s the crazy thing of it all, but then they come around and tell us we have to be closed,” Kortesmaki said.

Lewis’ tour also took him to Dead On Arms Indoor Shooting Range in Cloquet, Duluth Pack, and Duluth Surgical Suites.

Lewis is running against current U.S. Senator Tina Smith, a democrat, in November.


Jason Lewis Begins RV Tour To Publicize Economic Impacts Of Walz’s Business Shutdowns

Jason Lewis Begins RV Tour To Publicize Economic Impacts Of Walz’s Business Shutdowns

April 17, 2020

US Senate candidate Jason Lewis says he will be on the road in his RV “over the next several weeks” meeting with local business owners who have suffered under Governor Tim Walz’s economic shutdowns.

Lewis represented Minnesota’s 2nd congressional district from 2017-2019. Now, he’s running for Senate in a campaign that appears to prioritize the needs of small businesses.

“I am embarking on a ‘Re-Open Minnesota for Business’ tour to help struggling small business owners tell their stories and be heard,” Lewis said in a press release, Thursday.

The release did not mention how his tour may be affected by Governor Tim Walz’s stay at home order. It did, however, specify that he is not demanding that the economy reopens before May 4, when the stay at home order expires.

His release highlighted out how “right now there are 22 million Americans out of work, and just today [Thursday] Minnesota-based Best Buy announced they are furloughing 50,000 employees.” Lewis has also speculated that this wave of unemployment may have devastating impacts that could result in “lost lives” as jobless Minnesotans become depressed.

Lewis’s release called out his Democratic opponent, incumbent Senator Tina Smith, for not doing enough to help her state’s struggling middle class amidst the Governor’s business restrictions.

“Twice [Smith] voted to block economic relief to work in funding for her liberal pet projects like funding the Kennedy Center and the Green New Deal,” he said.

“I call on Senator Smith to do her job and provide a much-needed lifeline to ailing businesses… Then I call on her to stand with me in demanding Minnesota reopen for business when the stay at home order ends on May 4,” he concluded.

Lewis also rails against Smith on his Twitter page, criticizing her support of the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has been accused of favoring Chinese interests throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Smith claims that Walz’s economic shutdowns are necessary to bring about a “functioning economy.” The senator also says that she “remain[s] committed to holding Trump and his administration accountable” for how it has handled the COVID-19 situation.