Angie Craig lost last year’s open-seat race in Minnesota’s 2nd District by less than 2 points. On Monday, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate announced she’d try to unseat last year’s rival, freshman GOP Rep. Jason Lewis.
Craig, a former health care executive, plans to spend the summer on a listening tour of the district before officially kicking off her campaign in the fall. She’s already been active in the district this year, holding an “adopt a district” town hall in the 2nd District with 1st District Rep. Tim Walz.
Minnesota’s 2nd District had been safe Republican for years, but former Rep. John Kline’s retirement gave Democrats hope they could pick up the seat in 2016.
Democrats are targeting the seat again this year, going after Lewis for voting for the GOP health care plan earlier this year.
Craig said on Monday her party needs to do a better job understanding “why we have lost these past elections.”
“As I talk with voters, already it has become clearer that we must talk more about how we are going to bring back jobs to the United States and create economic opportunity for more hard-working Americans,” she said in her announcement statement on Facebook.
Craig eschewed partisan labels during last year’s campaign.
“You won’t find the word ‘Democrat’ on my campaign literature,” she boasted in an interview in her district last fall. “I’m a little bit more fiscally moderate and that’s, we believe, a really good fit for this district.”
Craig grew up in a trailer park in Arkansas and went on to work as a communications and human resources executive at St. Jude Medical. She zeroed in on health care in her Monday announcement.
“I grew up without healthcare. There is no one who knows better if you can’t afford insurance, healthcare doesn’t exist,” Craig said.
Craig acknowledged problems of the 2010 health care law last fall.
“The ACA opened up access, but it has not yet fulfilled its promise of more affordable health care,” she said at the time. “That’s where I believe I can use my background in health care to find solutions.”
At age 18, when still in Arkansas, Craig came out as a lesbian. She eventually settled in Minnesota, in part, because the state allowed her to adopt her wife’s oldest son. If elected, Craig would become the first lesbian mother in Congress.
Craig didn’t raise any money during the 2nd quarter. She ended the quarter on June 30 with $6,000 in her campaign account. Between contributions and loans to her campaign, Craig spent about $1 million of her own money on her 2016 race, according to her campaign.
Another DFL candidate, high school teacher and football coach Jeff Erdman, raised $27,000 and ended the 2nd quarter with $10,000.
Lewis raised $218,000 during the 2nd quarter, ending June with $402,000 in the bank.
The freshman Republican's campaign invoked the DFL primary in responding to Craig's announcement.
"The 2nd district deserves better than Bernie Sanders-style Democrats, but after the DFL is done fighting over who's more liberal, Jason Lewis will still be standing up for our families and getting things done," campaign spokesman Stephen Bradford said in a statement.
Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the seat a Tossup.