Sen. Tina Smith has won re-election to the U.S. Senate, with the Associated Press projecting she defeated former Rep. Jason Lewis having built up a lead of almost 7% with 86% of precincts reporting.
Her victory means the Republican Party continues its run of failing to win a statewide vote in Minnesota since Tim Pawlenty was re-elected as governor in 2006.
After former Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Smith, then the lieutenant governor, to replace Al Franken in 2017, she was elected in 2018 to finish the rest of Franken's term. She will now serve a full 6-year term as a U.S. senator.
Smith also previously worked as chief of staff for Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.
She has voted mostly along party lines, but has also collaborated across the aisle on bills involving drug prices. A member of the Senate Agricultural Committee, she won the endorsement of the Minnesota Farm Bureau.
In one of Smith's more high-profile speeches to date, she defended abortion rights on the Senate floor, arguing that abortion restrictions are a sexist interference, preventing women from having full authority over their bodies.
Lewis, who won the contested Minnesota 2nd Congressional district seat in 2016, lost his bid for election against Angie Craig in 2018. Prior to that, he gained name recognition through his career as a conservative talk show radio host.
Throughout his campaign, Lewis presented himself as a staunch Trump supporter and ally.
He emphasized his support for strict immigration restrictions and import tariffs, and echoed Trump's criticism against stay-at-home orders and other restrictions on businesses regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
He has called Minnesota’s Senate race “a choice between law and order and violence and anarchy," and emphasized his support for law enforcement following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
Meanwhile, Smith, who didn't call for defunding the police, emphasized reforming law enforcement and condemned the looting and destruction that occurred during some protests against police brutality.
Smith, who led in most polls throughout the race, raised more than twice as much money than Lewis: the Democrat collected $14.9 million while Lewis brought in about $5.4 million.
While Biden had a lead of several thousand votes over Trump, Smith's lead over Lewis didn't carry over in the same way, but she still garnered more than 1.4 million votes with 14% of the state still to report.