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If Lewis runs, he’ll stick close to Trump

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Jason Lewis addressing the 2016 Republican State Convention on May 21, 2016, in Duluth, Minn. Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Republican Jason Lewis said Tuesday that if he seeks federal office again next year he won’t distance himself from President Donald Trump or his policies.

Lewis is a former congressman who lost a reelection bid in 2018. He is openly considering a run for that same 2nd Congressional District seat now held by DFLer Angie Craig or for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by DFLer Tina Smith.

Lewis, a former radio show host, campaigned as an ally of Trump even as other swing district Republicans sought some space from the president and his agenda last year.

“You’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound. I don’t think it pays to run away from a Trump presidency,” Lewis said in an interview. “And I told people I wasn’t going to do it. And I didn’t do it. And I wouldn’t do it in the future. I happen to agree with much of it.”

Trump’s reelection campaign has said it will target Minnesota next year after narrowly losing here in 2016.

Lewis said he’ll decide sometime this fall if he’ll run in 2020 and for which office. He said he’s evaluating the electoral environment and whether he could have an impact if he won office.

“I don’t have any inclination to go to Washington to keep a job and beat my head against the wall,” Lewis said, before going into how he’s weighing the two offices. “Where could you get the most done? Where could you have the most impact? There’s an argument for both sides. But certainly the Senate is becoming the last firewall to freedom, so that’s very important from my perspective.”

Others considering the U.S. Senate race include state Sen. Karin Housley, who lost to Smith in 2018, and former 21st Century Fox executive Bill Guidera, who was a former finance chairman for the Minnesota Republican Party.

Lewis said if he doesn’t run for office he can go back into commentary, “which is like politics without the fundraising.”