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Jason Lewis announces run for Tina Smith's U.S. Senate seat

The former 2nd District congressman is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump.

As settings go for announcing political runs, it doesn't get more Minnesotan than the State Fair.

Jason Lewis used the Great Minnesota Get-Together as the venue for announcing he will run for the Republican ticket to challenge Sen. Tina Smith for her seat in 2020.

Lewis is the former congressman for Minnesota's 2nd District, covering an area to the southeast of the Twin Cities, including some south metro suburbs, but lost the seat he won in 2016 after just one term, with DFLer Angie Craig winning in the 2018 mid-terms.

A staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, Politico described the former radio host as Trump's "mini-me" in an article published Thursday, noting he's part of Trump's strategy to ramp up rural turnout in an effort to offset expected losses in urban and suburban areas.

In front of a "Trump 2020" sign at the MinnesotaGOP State Fair stall, Lewis announced his candidacy, and made the focus of his attack not primarily Smith, but 5th District Rep. Ilhan Omar.

He accused Omar of leading a "radical political movement," and described Smith as a "foot soldier" who is "marching in lockstep behind her."

"I refuse to sit back on the sidelines and watch our state, country, and way of life continue to come under blistering attack from radical politicians like Ilhan Omar and her foot soldier Tina Smith," he said. "I’m going to fight back. That’s why today I am proud to announce my candidacy for the United States Senate."

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Lewis was the subject of controversy during his congressional tenure, with CNN's investigative unit K-File highlighting some of the things he had said during his time on radio, which include demeaning comments about women on public assistance, sexual harassment victims, and gay marriage.

One of his advisers, state Sen. Dave Osmek, told the Up And At 'Em Show podcast that he Lewis will approach the race "with bare knuckles."

"And some Minnesotans may recoil, some Minnesotans may not like it...I just think the time has come for us to have a bare-knuckle brawler," he said.

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