Jason Lewis (Minnesota politician)

  (Redirected from Jason Lewis (congressman))

Jason Mark Lewis[1] (born September 23, 1955) is an American politician who served as the U.S. representative for Minnesota's 2nd congressional district from 2017 to 2019. A member of the Republican Party, he was a radio talk show host, political commentator and writer before entering Congress. He worked in Denver, Charlotte and Minneapolis–Saint Paul before hosting the nationally syndicated Jason Lewis Show from 2009 to 2014. Lewis was defeated in his bid for a second term in 2018 by Democrat Angie Craig, his opponent in 2016. He was the Republican nominee in the 2020 U.S. Senate election in Minnesota, losing to incumbent Democrat Tina Smith.

Jason Lewis
Jason Lewis, official portrait, 115th congress.jpg
Lewis in 2017
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 2017 – January 3, 2019
Preceded byJohn Kline
Succeeded byAngie Craig
Personal details
Jason Mark Lewis

(1955-09-23) September 23, 1955 (age 66)
Waterloo, Iowa, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Leigh Lewis
EducationUniversity of Northern Iowa (BA)
University of Colorado, Denver (MA)
WebsiteCampaign website

Early life and educationEdit

Lewis was born in 1955 in Waterloo, Iowa.[2] He earned a master's degree in political science from the University of Colorado at Denver as well as a Bachelor of Arts in education and business from the University of Northern Iowa.[3]



Lewis's show was syndicated nationally by the Premiere Radio Networks and the Genesis Communications Network. Before that, he broadcast locally for ten years on KSTP in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area and then on WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina for three years. In 2006 Lewis moved back to Minnesota to the newly established KTLK-FM.[3]

On the February 17, 2009, episode of his show, Lewis announced that his show would be syndicated nationally, effective February 23, 2009. Since 2007 Lewis had been one of the most frequently used and most popular guest hosts of Rush Limbaugh's radio program, allowing him to reach a nationwide audience.[4]

On August 8, 2011, The Jason Lewis Show was picked up for national syndication by the Genesis Communications Network.[5] On the July 31, 2014, episode, Lewis announced he was leaving the show to devote more time to a website he helped co-found.[6]

In 2018, CNN reviewed many hours of audiotape recorded during the years when Lewis served as a substitute host for Rush Limbaugh. Lewis's comments included: "Now, are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can't call her a slut?" and "One of the reasons that the Democrats love the quote unquote female issue is because they know women vote more liberally than men do. Now you could say in a very, very sexist, misogynistic way that 'Well, that's because women just don't understand money. They don't understand, they're—they don't handle finances. They're guided by emotion, not reason. Why, that's why they didn't have the vote for a full century in the country."[7]

Lewis defended his comments by saying that he was paid to be provocative. "There's a difference between [being] a politician and a pundit", he added.[8]


Lewis is the author of the 2011 book Power Divided is Power Checked: The Argument for States Rights.[9] In bonus commentary added to the 2016 audiobook version, Lewis said that many state laws prohibit consensual conduct and most of those laws are decided by the states.[10] In the book he writes, "slavery was mercifully conquered",[11] and suggests that "emancipated compensation" (compensated emancipation) was rejected by the Lincoln Administration—raising the question whether Abraham Lincoln "exploited the issue" of slavery to justify the "War Between the States."[12] The book is a defense of federalism and calls for a constitutional amendment allowing "any state to peaceably leave the union."[13][14]

Political campaignsEdit

1990 U.S. House campaignEdit

In 1990, Lewis ran for Congress in Colorado's 2nd congressional district. He was defeated by incumbent Democrat David Skaggs.[15]

2016 U.S. House campaignEdit

In October 2015, Lewis filed to run for U.S. Congress in Minnesota's 2nd congressional district,[16] and was endorsed at the Minnesota Republican Party's convention on the 6th ballot on May 7, 2016.[17] He won the four-way August primary with 46% of the vote.[18]

The race was widely considered one of 2016's most competitive congressional elections.[13][18][19] Roll Call journalist Alex Roarty wrote that Lewis had not openly embraced Donald Trump, but that he had been "unafraid to embrace many of the presumptive presidential nominee's trademarks: tough talk, an aversion to political correctness, and a focus on border security."[12]

During the campaign, a number of Lewis's opinions from his radio and internet career were publicized by the news media, including comments he made about women and slavery. Lewis said on his radio show: "You've got a vast majority of young single women who couldn't explain to you what GDP means. 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."[18]

In an update to his book on states' rights just before the campaign, Lewis questioned the federal government's role in outlawing slavery: "In fact, if you really want to be quite frank about it, how does somebody else owning a slave affect me? It doesn't. If I don't think it is right, I won't own one, and people always say 'well, if you don't want to marry somebody of the same sex, you don't have to, but why tell somebody else they can't?' Uh, you know, if you don't want to own a slave, don't. But don't tell other people they can't."[20]

Lewis said, "liberal reporters and typical politicians may not like the bluntness of the way I've framed some issues in my career as a voice in the conservative movement"[12] and that his comments were "taken out of context by his opponents and the media".[18]

On November 8, 2016, Lewis was elected to the United States House of Representatives, defeating Democratic nominee Angie Craig and independent Paula Overby.[21]

2018 U.S. House campaignEdit

In 2018, Angie Craig ran against Lewis again and defeated him in the November 6 general election with 52.8% of the vote to Lewis's 47.2%.[22]

2020 U.S. Senate campaignEdit

Lewis was mentioned as a possible candidate against Senator Al Franken in 2014, but did not run.[23] In August 2019, Lewis launched a campaign for that seat, now held by Tina Smith.[24] Lewis pledged not to distance himself from Trump or his policies.[25]

Political positionsEdit

In the 115th United States Congress, Lewis voted with his party in 96.3% of votes and in line with President Trump's position in 90% of votes.[26][27]

According to Project Vote Smart's 2016 analysis, Lewis generally supported anti-abortion legislation, opposed income tax increases, opposed mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, opposed federal spending, supported lowering taxes as a means of promoting economic growth, opposed requiring states to adopt federal education standards, supported the building of the Keystone Pipeline, opposed federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, opposed gun-control legislation, supported repealing the Affordable Care Act, supported requiring immigrants who are unlawfully present to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship, and opposed American intervention in Iraq and Syria beyond air support.[28]

Criminal justice reformEdit

Lewis authored a bill that would provide education and vocational training resources to at-risk youth and young criminal offenders instead of levying penalties against them for petty offenses.[29] He reintroduced the SAFE Justice Act, a criminal justice reform bill.[30]

Lewis was a critic of the war on drugs, which he compared to the failed policy of alcohol prohibition in America.[31][32] He cosponsored legislation to let states set their own policy on cannabis and to remove cannabis from the list of Schedule I drugs.[33]

Health careEdit

Lewis supported the March 2017 version of the American Health Care Act (the GOP's bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act).[34] On May 4, 2017, he voted to repeal the ACA (Obamacare) and pass the American Health Care Act.[35][36]

LGBT rightsEdit

In 2011, Lewis said that prohibitions on same-sex marriage were not discriminatory against gay people, because they would still be free to marry those of the opposite sex.[37] In 2013, he argued against same-sex marriage, comparing gay people to rapists, speeders and polygamists.[38][39][40] Lewis said that prohibitions against same-sex marriage could not be legally challenged on the basis of discrimination, because rapists and speeders could not reasonably argue that they were being discriminated against by prohibitions on rape and speeding.[38] "The gay-rights lobby is playing underhanded to get their will and in the process they are shredding the Constitution of this country", he said.[38]

Lewis suggested that households headed by gay parents might be harming their children and that more research was needed to confirm that they were not.[38]

He called the decision of school boards to allow transgender restrooms and locker rooms in public schools an "abomination".[41]

Taxes and spendingEdit

Lewis voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[42] He voted against the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, a bill that increased discretionary spending by $300 billion.[43] After his vote he said, "I ran for Congress to get the economy going again by reducing taxes, regulations, deficits and debt. A $300 billion increase in discretionary spending along with hiking the debt ceiling fails on all accounts."[43]

Lewis authored a bill that would mandate an audit of the Department of Defense.[44] He later praised the department's decision to undergo an audit in 2018.[44]

Women's issuesEdit

In 2011, Lewis decried laws prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace, claiming such laws are unconstitutional because they interfere with free speech.[45] The same year, he mocked women who claimed to have been traumatized by unwanted sexual touching and kissing.[45]

Personal lifeEdit

Jason and his spouse, Leigh Lewis, reside in Woodbury, Minnesota, near the congressional district where he was elected in 2016.[46]

On October 26, 2020, eight days before Election Day, Lewis underwent emergency surgery for an internal hernia. His campaign said that he expected to be released from the hospital within days.[47]

Electoral historyEdit

1990 Colorado's 2nd congressional district election[48]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic David Skaggs 105,248 60.67
Republican Jason Lewis 68,226 39.33
2016 Minnesota's 2nd congressional district election[49]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jason Lewis 172,345 47.11
Democratic Angie Craig 164,621 45.0
Independence Paula Overby 28,508 7.79
2018 Minnesota's 2nd congressional district election[50]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic (DFL) Angie Craig 177,958 52.65
Republican Jason Lewis (incumbent) 159,344 47.15
Write-in 666 0.20
Total votes 337,968 100
2020 United States Senate election in Minnesota[51]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic (DFL) Tina Smith (incumbent) 1,566,522 48.74%
Republican Jason Lewis 1,398,145 43.50%
Legal Marijuana Now Kevin O'Connor 190,154 5.91%
Grassroots Oliver Steinberg 57,174 1.78%
Write-in 2,261 0.07%
Total votes 3,214,256 100.0%


  1. ^ Ancestry.com. Minnesota, Marriage Index, 1958–2001 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007
  2. ^ "Guide to the New Congress" (PDF). Roll Call. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 24, 2018. Retrieved January 3, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "KTLK-FM official Jason Lewis biography". Archived from the original on September 29, 2008. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  4. ^ Lambert, Brian (September 2, 2015). "'I wanted to make a political statement': a Q&A with former radio host Jason Lewis". MinnPost.
  5. ^ "The Jason Lewis Show Joins the GCN Radio Network". Archived from the original on October 5, 2011. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
  6. ^ "Radio host Jason Lewis quits show while on the air". Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  7. ^ U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis made disparaging comments about women on radio show Comments he made on his provocative show are getting a wider airing, Star-Tribune, J. Patrick Coolican, July 19, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  8. ^ Kaczynski, Andrew (July 19, 2018). "Rep. Jason Lewis stands by 'sluts' comments: 'I was paid to be provocative'". CNN. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  9. ^ Lewis, Jason (2011). Power divided is power checked : the argument for states' rights. Minneapolis, MN: Bascom Hill Pub Group. ISBN 978-1-935098-50-8. OCLC 668197899.
  10. ^ "Lewis' book offers provocative analysis on slavery and civil rights". Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  11. ^ Brucato, Cyndy (February 23, 2016). "Provocateur-turned-politician Jason Lewis finding that past comments can haunt the present". MinnPost. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  12. ^ a b c Roarty, Alex (May 16, 2016). "Mini Trumps Sound Like the Nominee". Roll Call. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  13. ^ a b COTTLE, MICHELLE (August 12, 2016). "Meet Minnesota's Mini-Trump". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  14. ^ Brodkorb, Michael (February 22, 2016). "Republican official says Jason Lewis' comments 'demonstrate ignorance'". Star Tribune. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  15. ^ Broadkorb, Michael (September 30, 2015). "GOP buzzing about possible Jason Lewis run for Congress". Star Tribune. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  16. ^ "Jason Lewis files paperwork to run for Congress". Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  17. ^ "Jason Lewis wins 2nd District GOP endorsement over David Gerson – Twin Cities". Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  18. ^ a b c d Pathé, Simone (August 9, 2016). "Controversial Former Talk Radio Host Wins GOP Primary in Minnesota Battleground". Roll Call. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  19. ^ Brodey, Sam (August 10, 2016). "It's Jason Lewis vs. Angie Craig in what's likely to be one of the most-watched congressional races in the country". Minn Post. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  20. ^ "Lewis' book offers provocative analysis on slavery and civil rights". Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  21. ^ Montgomery, David. "GOP’s Jason Lewis wins MN 2nd Congressional District; incumbent Democrats narrowly hold seats", TwinCites.com, November 8, 2016. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  22. ^ "Minnesota Election Results: Second House District". New York Times. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  23. ^ Scheck, Tom (March 27, 2013). "Franken hires a campaign manager". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
  24. ^ Zdechlik, Mark. "Jason Lewis announces a run for U.S. Senate". MPRNews. Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  25. ^ Bakst, Brian (June 11, 2019). "If Lewis runs, he'll stick close to Trump". Minnesota Public Radio.
  26. ^ Willis, Derek. "Represent". ProPublica. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  27. ^ Bycoffe, Aaron (January 30, 2017). "Tracking Jason Lewis In The Age Of Trump". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  28. ^ "Jason Lewis' Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)". Vote Smart. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  29. ^ Connolly, Griffin; Connolly, Griffin (May 29, 2018). "Criminal Justice System Reformers in House a Motley Bipartisan Crew". Roll Call. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  30. ^ "U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis joins bipartisan push for criminal justice reform". Star Tribune. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  31. ^ Lewis, Jason (July 23, 2011). "Jason Lewis: Drug war is a failure, so let's experiment". Star Tribune. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  32. ^ Lewis, Jason (July 22, 2013). "Next on Minnesota's social agenda: Marijuana". Star Tribune. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  33. ^ Mullen, Mike (April 7, 2017). "Jason Lewis (yes, that Jason Lewis) said something cool about marijuana". City Pages. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  34. ^ The New York Times (March 20, 2017). "How House Republicans Planned to Vote on the Obamacare Replacement". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  35. ^ "How the House voted to pass the GOP health-care bill". Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 4, 2017. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  36. ^ "Health care vote puts pressure on dozens of vulnerable GOP reps". USA TODAY. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  37. ^ "Jason Lewis: Gays already have equal right to marry someone of opposite sex". MinnPost. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  38. ^ a b c d "A Republican Congressman Seeking Reelection Once Compared Gay People To "Rapists" And Other Criminals". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  39. ^ "Congressman Running Against Lesbian Once Compared Gays to Rapists". August 8, 2018. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  40. ^ "Republican congressman compared gays to rapists and murderers". PinkNews. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  41. ^ "The UpTake – Jason Lewis Says Transgendered Students Using Bathroom Of Choice "An Abomination"". The UpTake. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  42. ^ The New York Times (December 19, 2017). "How Each House Member Voted on the Tax Bill". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  43. ^ a b "Lewis: 'No' to reckless government spending". Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  44. ^ a b "Lewis welcomes long called-for Pentagon Audit". SunThisweek. December 13, 2017.
  45. ^ a b "GOP Rep. Jason Lewis once mocked women who felt traumatized by unwanted touching". 2018.
  46. ^ Golden, Erin (October 1, 2016). "Minnesota's Second District race is among the most-watched in the country". Star Tribune. Minneapolis. He and his wife, Leigh, have two daughters and live in Woodbury, just outside the Second District's border.
  47. ^ Greenwood, Max (October 26, 2020). "Minnesota Senate candidate Jason Lewis undergoes 'successful' hernia surgery". The Hill. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  48. ^ 1990 Election Results for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives; retrieved November 9, 2016
  49. ^ Results for Minnesota's 2nd congressional district; retrieved November 9, 2016
  50. ^ "Home - ElectionResults.Web". electionresults.sos.state.mn.us. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  51. ^ "Statewide Results for U.S. Senator". Minnesota Secretary of State. Retrieved November 25, 2020.

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Minnesota
(Class 2)

Most recent