On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Jason Lewis says Republicans now have a mandate

Share story

Jason Lewis addressing the GOP state convention.
Jason Lewis addressing the 2016 Republican State Convention on May 21 in Duluth.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Jason Lewis sees the major Republican victories, including his own, Tuesday night as a mandate.

  "Trump shocked everybody. And again taking Democratic states. Keeping the Senate, keeping the House," he said. "Now we've got a Republican president. That's a mandate. And so it means they've got to fulfill a mandate. They have to move on something and deliver. And that's as it should be."

The former conservative talk radio host edged out Democrat Angie Craig in Minnesota's 2nd congressional district, taking 47 percent of the vote to her 45 percent. It was the state's only open seat in the U.S. House, following the retirement after seven terms of U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Republican.

Lewis said his victory shows people wanted a change, especially on issues like the deficit and health care.

"I did sense that people were tired of politics as usual," he said, "so to that degree I think we were right."

But Lewis might have been helped by a third party. Independence Party of America candidate Paula Overby got nearly 8 percent of the vote.

Angie Craig
Angie Craig
Evan Frost | MPR News

  "I think it's likely that she did take votes away from both candidates, but probably more from Craig, given that they had more similarities from a policy perspective than Lewis and Overby did," said Kathryn Pearson, an associate professor of political science at the University of Minnesota. 

Craig's strategy to try to tie Lewis to Trump backfired, Pearson said, as it did in other down-ballot races.

"I think it didn't succeed as a strategy in the 2nd district because Trump performed better than expected in the 2nd district as well as all over Minnesota," Pearson said.

Angie Craig was not available for comment for this story. 

President Obama won the district, which includes counties south and east of the Twin Cities, including Dakota, Scott, Goodhue and Wabasha, by a slim margin in 2012. Democrats, seeing an opportunity, poured money into the race.

Craig raised more than $3 million in contributions while Lewis brought in just under $1 million.

  "Frankly it's gratifying that, in my view, the truth won out," Lewis said. "But more importantly that money isn't everything in politics."

He takes office on Jan. 3.

— MPR News reporter Brian Bakst contributed to this report.