ASSOCIATED PRESS: Minnesota oil pipeline fight highlights Democratic dilemmas

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Minnesota oil pipeline fight highlights Democratic dilemmas

Steve Karnowski
09/09/2019

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — 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.

Other candidates — including home-state Sen. Amy Klobuchar and front-runner Joe Biden — have remained largely silent, mindful that such projects are viewed as job creators for some of the working-class voters they may need to win the state next year.

The fight illustrates a hard reality behind the Democratic candidates’ rhetoric on climate change. For months, Democrats vying for the White House have sounded strikingly progressive on the issue, endorsing ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions and putting forward sweeping proposals for investing in the green jobs of the future. But the debate often glosses over the harder, more immediate choices between union jobs and phasing out fossil fuels. Those fights often divide Democrats and may create an opening for President Donald Trump.

Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 project has generated opposition on two main grounds: that the oil it would carry would aggravate climate change and that it would risk spills in pristine areas of the Mississippi River headwaters where Native Americans harvest wild rice. Enbridge says replacing the 1960s-era pipeline, which is increasingly prone to corrosion and cracking, will be safer for the environment while allowing it to restore the line’s original capacity and ensure reliable deliveries to refineries. Labor unions, once the bedrock of Democrats’ support in northern Minnesota, backed the plan on the promise it will create scores of new jobs.

Regulators in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin have given the necessary approvals, and some work on those segments already has been completed. In Minnesota, the Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge is still waiting for permits while court challenges play out.

While it waits, the pipeline has become a political weapon. Democrats and Republicans in Minnesota are in a tug of war over working-class, rural voters needed to win statewide. Trump won enough of those voters to come within just 1.52 percentage points — fewer than 45,000 votes — of beating Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. He has said repeatedly he intends to win Minnesota in 2020, something not done by a Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972.

While Trump hasn’t taken a specific stand on Line 3, he’s made it clear that he’s all for oil pipelines. Soon after taking office, he signed executive actions to advance the highly disputed Keystone XL and Dakota Access projects, vowing, “From now on we are going to start making pipelines in the United States.” He backed that up in April with more orders to assert presidential power over cross-border pipelines and to make it harder for states to block them over environmental concerns.

Some Democratic candidates have been eager to draw a contrast. Sanders, a Vermont senator, was the first to come out against Line 3. In January, he tweeted a video of himself listening to indigenous activists about the proposal and wrote: “The dangerous Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota would send a million barrels of tar sands oil — the dirtiest fossil fuel in the world — through the headwaters of the Mississippi River, tribal treaty lands and sacred wild rice beds. It must be stopped.”

Warren, a senator from Massachusetts, weighed in just ahead of a recent visit to Minnesota by tweeting: “The Line 3 pipeline would threaten Minnesota’s public waters, lands, and agricultural areas important to several Tribal Nations. I’m with @MN_350 and Minnesota organizers fighting to #StopLine3 and protect our environment.”

She was referring to MN350, a climate change group that’s part of the opposition. Its spokesman, Brent Benson, called on other candidates who’ve spoken out against climate change to oppose Line 3, too.

“It’s folly to be promoting fossil fuel infrastructure in the middle of a climate crisis,” Benson said. “Presidential candidates have an opportunity and a duty to point that out.”

Other Democrats have not taken clear positions on the project. The campaigns of Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg did not respond to repeated requests for comment. A spokesman for Sen. Kamala Harris of California didn’t address whether she has a position on Line 3, but pointed out that she opposed the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

Klobuchar has also avoided taking a position. She has said she wants to ensure a thorough environmental and scientific review to determine if the Line 3 project should move forward. Minnesota regulators signed off on the main environmental review last year, although an appeals court has ordered additional study on the potential impacts to the Lake Superior watershed. But she recently returned $5,600 in donations from an Enbridge project manager after a liberal watchdog group, the Public Accountability Initiative, revealed them.

In contrast to the divided Democrats, Minnesota Republicans have made it clear that they support Line 3, and that they see it as a winning strategy for 2020, coupled with other issues that split Democrats along ideological and geographic lines, such as copper-nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota.

Just before her visit to Minnesota, Warren also tweeted her opposition to a proposed Twin Metals mine near Ely. Like her position against Line 3, it drew an angry response from labor unions.

“Why would you want to be against something that will create so many jobs, and living (wage) jobs, within an area that desperately needs it?” Mike Syversrud, president of the Iron Range Building and Construction Trades Council, told the online news site MinnPost.

When Republican Jason Lewis launched his U.S. Senate campaign at the Minnesota State Fair, the former congressman said he would focus on greater Minnesota — the mostly rural part outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul area — to make up for Democratic strength in the cities. He highlighted the 8th Congressional District, which covers northeastern Minnesota and has swung from blue to red. Lewis said Trump’s campaign is “dead serious about Minnesota,” and that he expects it to follow the same strategy.

“Greater Minnesota is turning red, deep red. … I don’t know how a Democrat’s going to win the 8th District promising to give pink slips to every trade union member on the Iron Range, promising to stop Enbridge, to stop copper mining, to stop logging, to stop people from having jobs on the Iron Range,” Lewis said.

To view original article, visit: https://apnews.com/2150e9f93fac47ec99e45465992792fa

THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW: Jason Lewis discusses U.S. Senate campaign with Mark Steyn

THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW: Jason Lewis discusses U.S. Senate campaign with Mark Steyn

Great discussion on the Rush Limbaugh Show with Mark Steyn yesterday 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?

Posted by Jason Lewis on Thursday, August 29, 2019

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?

Full Link to Audio

FOX NEWS: Minnesotans want lower taxes, energy independence, education reform, and they want more mining and timber jobs.

FOX NEWS: Minnesotans want lower taxes, energy independence, education reform, and they want more mining and timber jobs.

Minnesotans want lower taxes, energy independence, education reform, and they want more mining and timber jobs. By working with President Trump and his administration, we can make all of this happen – and more. Get on board right now by going to LewisForMN.com

Posted by Jason Lewis on Tuesday, August 27, 2019

By working with President Trump and his administration, we can make all of this happen – and more.

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

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

Judy Keen
08/22/2019

Former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, a Republican, announced at the Minnesota State Fair on Thursday that he will challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith in the 2020 election.

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.

Pressed by journalists about his support for Trump, Lewis suggested that Smith should be asked, “Here’s what the Squad said today. What do you think about that?”

Lewis said he won’t distance himself from Trump’s positions on the economy, immigrants and other issues. “I have a hard time disagreeing with much of it,” he said.

Some of the president’s political aides are advising Lewis’ campaign, and he said Trump plans to go “all in” on competing in Minnesota.

Smith has been “working hard for the people of Minnesota, taking on powerful special interests and working across the aisle to get things done,” said campaign manager Ryan Furlong. He said Smith has fought “to protect health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, standing up to the big drug companies to lower prescription drug prices [and] making sure young people have the skills they need to fill high-demand jobs.”

DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said in a statement that Lewis is Trump’s “hand-picked” candidate. “Minnesota voters will reject this failed attempt at a second act,” Martin said.

State Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan called Lewis “the best chance we’ve had in decades” to win statewide.

Lewis, 63, served one term in the U.S. House representing the Second District, which stretches southeast from St. Paul and includes much of suburban Dakota County.

Angie Craig beat him last November, 53% to 47%, after losing to him in 2016. Her victory was part of a national Democratic surge that returned the party to control of the U.S. House and was seen as a repudiation of Trump.

Trump narrowly carried the district in 2016. It’s the sort of “swing” area where the 2018 outcome was largely determined by suburban women and will be contested again in 2020. Lewis had considered another rematch with Craig.

Smith was appointed to the Senate in January 2018 to complete the term of Sen. Al Franken, who resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct. She handily defeated state Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, in last November’s special election, collecting 53% of votes to Housley’s 42%. Smith also carried the Second District, 50% to 45%.

Housley announced last month that she wouldn’t challenge Smith again.

Emily Hartigan-Stein, a 25-year-old Marine veteran from Shoreview, came to hear Lewis outline his plans. “He’s honest. He’s just like Trump,” she said. “He doesn’t take any [nonsense].”

Stark contrast

Jeff Schuette, Second Congressional District GOP chairman, said Lewis should be able to capture votes in critical suburban areas, and his wide name recognition will be an advantage.

Smith “doesn’t have quite the incumbent armor,” said Schuette, 55, of Eagan.

A Smith-Lewis race would offer stark contrasts in political stances and views of the Trump presidency. According to vote tracking on the politics website FiveThirtyEight, during Lewis’ two-year term he voted with Trump 90% of the time; Smith’s current score is 24.5%.

The two candidates also have had disparate career paths. Before then-Gov. Mark Dayton sent Smith to Washington, she was his lieutenant governor and chief of staff. She also had been chief of staff to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

Smith will speak at the fair’s 4-H beef championship show on Friday.

Lewis lost a run for Congress in 1990 in Colorado and became a radio show host and conservative author and commentator. His radio program, based mostly in Minnesota, was syndicated nationally, and he became a frequent guest host on Rush Limbaugh’s show — a gig he returned to after losing his re-election campaign.

He now contributes brief commentaries called “MN Moments” on Minneapolis-based KTLK-AM. On an episode posted Aug. 15, he referred to Smith as the state’s “accidental senator” and called her “arguably the most liberal [senator] in the country.”

Opinions offered by Lewis during his years on the air surfaced in his campaigns. In 2018, CNN unearthed audio of his multiple disparaging comments about women. A Lewis aide said that “it was his job to be provocative” on the radio.

During his 2018 run, Lewis often spoke about his votes for Republican tax cuts, efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and changes to the juvenile justice system.

Lewis was born in Waterloo, Iowa, and has degrees from the University of Colorado, Denver, and the University of Northern Iowa.

To view original article, visit: http://www.startribune.com/jason-lewis-to-challenge-tina-smith-for-u-s-senate-seat/557874562/

WCCO CBS MINNESOTA: Jason Lewis Will Run Against Sen. Tina Smith

WCCO CBS MINNESOTA: Jason Lewis Will Run Against Sen. Tina Smith

Esme Murphy
08/22/2019

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.

He is a strong supporter of President Donald Trump, and has strong name recognition from his years on Twin Cities radio as a conservative talk show host.

Tina Smith won a surprisingly easy win over Minnesota Sen. Karen Housley last November, winning by 11 percentage points. Smith won the seat vacated by Al Franken after he resigned following accusations of sexual harassment.

Lewis sought to link Smith to Rep. Ilhan Omar and the three other freshmen Democrats known as “The Squad.”

“I am here to tell you the state of Minnesota is not interested in following The Squad off the rails, they are interested in keeping prosperity going, keeping our Constitution intact and making certain all you have a future,” Lewis said.

Smith is not as progressive on many issues as Omar, but its clear that is what Lewis is going to be talking about during this campaign. And he made it very clear he is going to work very hard for a large turnout in Minnesota’s Iron Range, which in the last presidential election went for Trump.

Not surprisingly at the DFL booth, Lewis’s announcement was met with skepticism.

“When he was a congressman for our district, he was just Trump’s little lackey boy, and got voted out in this election, so I don’t know why he thinks he is going to win against a popular senator like Tina Smith,” Burnsville’s Zach Heinen said.

In 2016, he talked with Esme Murphy about having been labeled by some as a “mini Donald Trump,” saying that the Democratic strategy was to label every Republican candidate a Trump follower.

To view original article, visit: https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2019/08/22/jason-lewis-will-run-against-sen-tina-smith/