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Former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis to run for Senate

Updated: August 22, 2019 05:01 PM

Former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis is running for Senate against U.S. Sen. Tina Smith. 

Lewis updated his website and social media platforms to reflect his run for the seat shortly before he made an official announcement at the Minnesota Republican building at the State Fair.

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"I'm so glad to announce my candidacy to represent our great state of Minnesota in the United States Senate," Lewis said to cheers from dozens of supporters Thursday morning.

Lewis has been expected for months to challenge Smith, who was appointed to the seat after Democrat Al Franken resigned over accusations of sexual misconduct.

Lewis says he was driven to run by the leftward tilt of the Democratic Party and fears of what might happen if they win control of the Senate.

"The United States Senate is the last firewall for freedom," Lewis said. "If the Senate goes south, if we don't keep that chamber, there's nothing between us and a state and a country that our parents let alone grandparents wouldn't recognize."

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Lewis acknowledged he's been in contact with President Trump's re-election campaign and believes the president is "all in" on trying to win Minnesota in 2020.

"I'll tell you what they've said," Lewis told reporters during a question and answer session after his announcement. "They are dead serious about Minnesota... he came within 44,000 votes [of winning Minnesota] in 2016 folks, 44,000. That is not a high hill to climb."

On her campaign Twitter feed, Senator Smith issued a fundraising plea Thursday afternoon after the announcement by Lewis.

"Jason Lewis - hand-picked by Trump - just announced he's running against me for this Senate seat," she said. "We know that means a lot of dark money and right-wing special interests and we've got to fight back...."

DFL Chair Ken Martin also issued a statement Thursday. 

"Jason Lewis spent his time in Washington repeatedly siding with powerful special interests over Minnesotans—voting to gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions and to give tax breaks and giveaways to big corporations like prescription drug companies, big oil and Wall Street," Martin said. "Jason Lewis may want to continue fighting for special interests and big corporations, but Minnesota voters will reject this failed attempt at a second act."

Lewis served one term in the House before he lost his southern Minnesota seat to Democrat Angie Craig last year. He's a former conservative radio talk show host who has been criticized for provocative remarks, including mocking women traumatized by unwanted sexual advances.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

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Tom Hauser

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