Republican Jason Lewis will defeat Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate Angie Craig in Minnesota’s 2nd District, The Associated Press projects.
Lewis led Craig 49 percent to 43 percent with 84 percent of precincts reporting.
He succeeds incumbent GOP Rep. John Kline who is retiring after seven terms.
Minnesota’s 2nd District is made up of suburbs from the southern and southwestern portions of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area between the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. It extends southeast to include rural Rice, Goodhue and Wabasha counties.
First elected in 2002, Kline won re-election in 2014 by more than 17 points. President Barack Obama twice carried the district narrowly under its present lines. Going into Election Day, the race was rated Tilts Democratic by The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.
When Lewis, a former radio talk show host with a history of controversial comments about women and slavery, won a four-way GOP primary in August, Republicans working in the state feared his comments could keep him from making the race against Craig — who had the DFL primary field to herself since January — truly competitive.
But Lewis, sometimes dubbed a “mini-Trump,” managed to keep the race surprisingly competitive heading into Election Day, forcing Democrats to continue spending in a district they’d hoped to lock down months ago.
The member-elect represents a contrast from his predecessor Kline, a moderately conservative Republican, who backed one of Lewis’ opponents in the GOP primary.
For more than 20 years, Lewis made a living from his provocative talk radio gibes, such as one he made during a discussion about the 2010 health care law’s requirement that employers pay for employees’ contraception as part of their health insurance coverage.
“You’ve got a vast majority of young single women who couldn’t explain to you what GDP means,” he said. “You know what they care about? They care about abortion. They care about abortion and gay marriage. They care about ‘The View.’ They are non-thinking.”
Lewis did not recant his views during the campaign. “You know where I stand. I’ve been telling you publicly for 25 years. You can’t run away from that and I don’t intend to,” he said in a debate with his Republican primary opponents, in comments reported by the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press.
He also has a libertarian streak. “In far too many cases, the drug laws are enforced in the inner city,” he says. “That has a disproportionate effect on people of color.”