Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis on Sunday blamed the late Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain for the GOP's loss of the U.S. House of Representatives — an opinion that drew a swift and angry rebuke from McCain's family and supporters.
McCain's July 2017 vote against a Republican-led effort to scrap the Affordable Care Act put fellow Republicans in an electoral bind last week, Lewis, who was also defeated, wrote in The Wall Street Journal.
"McCain's last-minute decision prompted a 'green wave' of liberal special-interest money, which was used to propagate false claims that the House plan 'gutted coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.' That line was the Democrats' most potent attack in the midterms," Lewis wrote in a commentary piece under the headline "Who Lost the House? John McCain."
Lewis maintains that the House-passed health care bill would have preserved health coverage for the sickest people, perhaps by moving them into high-risk pools.
McCain died in August after a long battle with brain cancer. The Arizona senator was the party's 2008 presidential nominee and a former Navy pilot who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
His daughter, Meghan, was among those criticizing Lewis. She called his piece "abhorrent" on Twitter.
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Other McCain defenders, including past aides, said the timing of the piece made things worse given that it was published on the national observance of Veterans Day.
Lewis, a first-term congressman from the southeastern Twin Cities suburbs, lost his rematch with Democrat Angie Craig, a former health care executive, by a 52-47 margin, according to uncertified returns.
A former talk radio show host, Lewis has not indicated whether he will seek office again in 2020 or return to the private sector when his term is up in January.
A message sent to his campaign manager about the commentary was not immediately returned.
Editor's note (Nov. 12, 2018): An earlier version of this story said Lewis' opinion piece ran Monday. To clarify, the Wall Street Journal posted it online Sunday and ran it in Monday's newspaper.