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Craig challenges Lewis in 2nd District race

Battle for Congress in Minnesota's 2nd District is a rematch of 2016 race

MINNEAPOLIS -- In Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District it's like déjà vu all over again, to quote the late, great Yogi Berra.

Democrat Angie Craig is challenging incumbent Republican Jason Lewis in a rematch of the 2016 race that propelled Lewis to Congress.

Craig said she decided to run again when the US House passed the American Health Care Act, which was meant to replace the Affordable Care Act but didn't gain traction in the Senate

"In this congressional district half of the adults have preexisting conditions -- cancer, asthma, diabetes, things like that," Craig remarked. "Jason Lewis voted for the American Health Care Act, which gutted preexisting condition protections inside the health care system."

The actual language in the bill said the new law couldn't be used to deny insurance to people with preexisting conditions, but drew fire because it placed no limits on how much those customers could be charged.

Craig doesn't like the "Medicare for All" single-payer plan some Democrats favor, but she'd support letting some people buy into Medicare early by paying premiums. She asserts it could actually help prop up Medicare's finances and spur more competition for those customers.

She said the historic tax overhaul signed into law by President Trump missed the mark.

"I'm all for tax reform if it's for middle class families and small businesses but Jason Lewis voted for a tax bill that put $2 trillion in additional debt on the backs of my children and was a tax giveaway to large corporations and the top one percent."

The 2nd District stretches from West St. Paul to Wabasha and has traditionally gone Republican. But Democrats believe Craig has a better chance this time around because of growing name recognition, and the midterm effect that normally benefits the party that's out of power.

Craig's had a larger advertising budget to work with this time around, and some of her ads feature her wife and four sons, including one that picked trade school over a four-year college track.

As a former executive at St. Jude Medical and Smith & Nephew, Craig has been targeted in attack ads for lawsuits filed those medical device companies. But, as someone who directed communications and human resources, Craig wasn't involved in those situations.

She's also been attacked for opposing the federal tax on medical devices, which helps pay for the ACA. The ads fail to mention every member of the Minnesota congressional delegation opposes that tax. In fact, Republican Erik Paulsen and Democrat Amy Klobuchar both received awards from the medical device industry for trying to repeal the tax.

"That's how silly politics have become in this country, and frankly why Americans are so sick of politics and politicians," Craig asserted.

"He voted for a tax bill that put two trillion dollars in additional debt on the backs of my children and was a tax giveaway to large corporations and the top one percent."

Jason Lewis

Republican Jason Lewis is banking on the popularity of President Trump, who summoned Lewis to the stage at a rally in Rochester Oct. 4 and shared the microphone with him briefly. Lewis said, regardless of what people think of the president's style or rhetoric, they like the tax overhaul Republicans passed into law.

"You're seeing after-tax wages rising, the lowest joblessness rate in 49 years," Lewis told KARE.

"So that's a great success, and it's exactly what we campaigned on. When you look at those policies versus all the drama, you start to realize people are better off now than they were two years ago."

Lewis made his name as a conservative radio talk show host but considers himself an independent voice willing to support ideas outside of traditional Republican lanes.

A juvenile justice reform bill Lewis co-authored with Virginia Democrat Bobby Scott recently passed the US House. Lewis appeared with St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, a Democrat, to call attention to the effort, which would give local communities and judge more flexibility in handling cases of youth offenders.

Lewis has been targeted in ads by the Giffords PAC for opposing a set of gun law reforms, aimed at curbing violence and preventing mass killings. But he asserts fortifying school buildings against attacks will have more impact than proposals such as universal background checks.

"Take the Parkland shooting. If you would have passed a bump stock law, a high capacity magazine ban, a gun show loophole ban -- if you would've done all of those things it wouldn't have had any effect at Parkland."

Lewis said even "red flags" laws, which allow a judge to temporarily remove weapons from the household of a mentally unstable person, wouldn't have helped at Parkland because Nikolas Cruz had displayed warning signs for years before he went on the rampage that claimed 17 lives.

The freshman lawmaker said there's more at stake in 2018 midterm election than just his job in Washington. He echoed Trump's warning that Democrats will stymie the president and his agenda.

"If all you like is resistance and protests and chaos and investigations, that's what's going to happen if the Democrats retake the House."

The 2nd District is one of four congressional districts national experts view as up for grabs. Both Republicans and Democrats see opportunities to pick up seats in the North Star State this year.