Jason Lewis (Minnesota politician)

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Jason Lewis
Jason Lewis, official portrait, 115th congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 2017 – January 3, 2019
Preceded byJohn Kline
Succeeded byAngie Craig
Personal details
Jason Mark Lewis

(1955-09-23) September 23, 1955 (age 63)
Waterloo, Iowa, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Leigh Lewis
EducationUniversity of Northern Iowa (BA)
University of Colorado, Denver (MA)
WebsiteHouse website

Jason Mark Lewis[1] (born September 23, 1955) is an American politician and Republican Party member who was the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 2nd congressional district for one term. Before being elected, Lewis was a radio talk show host, political commentator, and writer. He worked in Denver, Charlotte, and Minneapolis–Saint Paul before hosting the nationally syndicated Jason Lewis Show from 2009 to 2014. In the November 2018 general election, Lewis was defeated by Democrat Angie Craig.


Lewis was born in 1955 in Waterloo, Iowa.[2] He has a master's degree in political science from the University of Colorado at Denver as well as a Bachelor of Arts in education/business from the University of Northern Iowa.[3]

Radio career[edit]

Lewis's show was syndicated nationally by the Premiere Radio Networks and the Genesis Communications Network. Before that, he broadcast locally for ten years on KSTP in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area and then on WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina for three years. In 2006 Lewis moved back to Minnesota to the newly established KTLK-FM.[3]

On the February 17, 2009, episode of his show, Lewis announced that his show would be syndicated nationally, effective February 23, 2009. Since 2007, Lewis had been one of the most frequently used and most popular guest hosts of Rush Limbaugh's radio program, allowing him to reach a nationwide audience.[4]

On August 8, 2011, The Jason Lewis Show was picked up for national syndication by the Genesis Communications Network.[5] On the July 31, 2014, episode, Lewis announced he was leaving the show to devote more time to a website he helped co-found.[6]

In 2018, CNN reviewed several months of audio from Lewis's radio show between 2009 to 2014, in which Lewis asked whether calling women sluts was "too politically incorrect" and questioned the humanity of single women who vote for birth control coverage, saying,

You can be bought off for that? ... I mean, boy, that's the — all the other issues — the Hispanic problem, social issues, class warfare, you know — we can figure out a way to tackle those. This one, if you're that far down the road and you say you're a human being, I've got my suspicions. You're not — you're without a brain. You have no — you have no cognitive function whatsoever if that's all it takes to buy you off.[7]

Lewis has since stood by his comments, and a spokesperson for him said of them that it was "his job to be provocative while on the radio."[8]


Lewis is the author of the 2011 book Power Divided is Power Checked: The Argument for States Rights.[9] In bonus commentary added to the 2016 audiobook version, Lewis made the point that many state laws prohibit consensual conduct and most of those laws are decided by the states.[10] In the book he writes that "slavery was mercifully conquered"[11] and suggested that "emancipated compensation" was rejected by the Lincoln Administration – raising the question whether Abraham Lincoln "exploited the issue" of slavery to justify the "War Between the States."[12] The book is a defense of federalism and called for a constitutional amendment allowing "any state to peaceably leave the union."[13][14]

Political campaigns[edit]

1990 U.S. House campaign[edit]

In 1990, Lewis ran for Congress in Colorado's 2nd congressional district. He was defeated by incumbent Democrat David Skaggs.[15] Lewis was mentioned as a possible candidate in 2014 against Senator Al Franken, but did not run.[16]

2016 U.S. House campaign[edit]

In October 2015, Lewis filed to run for U.S. Congress in Minnesota's 2nd congressional district,[17] and was endorsed at the Minnesota Republican Party's convention on the 6th ballot on May 7, 2016.[18] He won the four-way August primary with 46% of the vote.[19]

The race was widely considered one of 2016's most competitive congressional elections.[13][19][20] Roll Call journalist Alex Roarty wrote that Lewis had not openly embraced Donald Trump, but that he had been "unafraid to embrace many of the presumptive presidential nominee's trademarks: tough talk, an aversion to political correctness, and a focus on border security."[12]

During the campaign, a number of Lewis's opinions from his radio and internet career were publicized by the news media, including comments he made about women and slavery. Lewis said on his radio show: "You've got a vast majority of young single women who couldn't explain to you what GDP means. You know what they care about? They care about abortion. They care about abortion and gay marriage. They care about 'The View.' They are non-thinking."[19]

In an update to his book on states' rights just before the campaign, Lewis questioned the federal government's role in outlawing slavery: "In fact, if you really want to be quite frank about it, how does somebody else owning a slave affect me? It doesn't. If I don't think it is right, I won't own one, and people always say 'well, if you don't want to marry somebody of the same sex, you don't have to, but why tell somebody else they can't?' Uh, you know, if you don't want to own a slave, don't. But don't tell other people they can't."[21]

Lewis said, "liberal reporters and typical politicians may not like the bluntness of the way I've framed some issues in my career as a voice in the conservative movement"[12] and that his comments were "taken out of context by his opponents and the media".[19]

On November 8, 2016, Lewis was elected to the United States House of Representatives, defeating Democrat Angie Craig and independent Paula Overby.[22]

2018 U.S. House campaign[edit]

Angie Craig challenged Lewis again in 2018, defeating him in the November 6 general election with 52.8% of the vote to Lewis's 47.2%.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Jason and his spouse, Leigh Lewis, reside in Woodbury, Minnesota, near the congressional district where he was elected in 2016.[24]

Electoral history[edit]

1990 Second Congressional District of Colorado Elections
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic David Skaggs 105,248 60.67
Republican Jason Lewis 68,226 39.33


2016 Second Congressional District of Minnesota Elections
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jason Lewis 172,345 47.11
Democratic Angie Craig 164,621 45.0
Independence Paula Overby 28,508 7.79


Political positions[edit]

As of October 2018, Lewis had voted with his party in 96.3% of votes in the 115th United States Congress and in line with Trump's position in 91%.[27][28]

According to Project Vote Smart's 2016 analysis, Lewis generally supports pro-life legislation, opposes income tax increases, opposes mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, opposes federal spending, supports lowering taxes as a means of promoting economic growth, opposes requiring states to adopt federal education standards, supports the building of the Keystone Pipeline, opposes federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, opposes gun-control legislation, supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, supports requiring immigrants who are unlawfully present to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship, and opposes American intervention in Iraq and Syria beyond air support.[29]

Criminal justice reform[edit]

Lewis authored a bill that would provide education and vocational training resources to at-risk youth and young criminal offenders instead of levying penalties against them for petty offenses.[30] He reintroduced the SAFE Justice Act, a criminal justice reform bill[31] supported by FAMM,[32] the American Conservative Union, the NAACP, the ACLU,[33] and Freedomworks.[34]

Lewis is a critic of the war on drugs, which he compares to failed policy of alcohol prohibition in America.[35][36] He has cosponsored legislation to let states set their own policy on cannabis (without federal interference) and to remove cannabis from the list of Schedule I drugs.[37]

Health care[edit]

Lewis supported the March 2017 version of the American Health Care Act (the GOP's bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act).[38] On May 4, 2017, he voted to repeal the ACA (Obamacare) and pass the American Health Care Act.[39][40]

LGBT rights[edit]

In 2011, Lewis said that prohibitions on same-sex marriage were not discriminatory against gay people, because they would still be free to marry those of the opposite sex.[41] In 2013, Lewis argued against same-sex marriage, comparing gays to rapists, speeders and polygamists.[42][43][44] Lewis said that prohibitions against same-sex marriage could not be legally challenged on the basis of discrimination, because rapists and speeders could not reasonably argue that they were being discriminated against by prohibitions on rape and speeding.[42] Lewis said that "the gay-rights lobby is playing underhanded to get their will and in the process they are shredding the Constitution of this country."[42]

Lewis has suggested that households headed by gay parents may be harming their children and that more research is needed to confirm that they are not harming the children:

I'm still not convinced that it's a great idea for children to grow up with two moms or two dads. Call me a Neanderthal. I'm not saying it's bad. I don't know. There hasn't been some longitudinal long-term studies on this. But we've rushed to this judgment that growing up with two mommies is a wonderful experience. I don't know. Maybe it's not so wonderful. Maybe it could harm the kid.[42]

He has called the decision of school boards to allow transgender restrooms and locker rooms in public schools an "abomination".[45]

Taxes and spending[edit]

Lewis voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[46]

He voted against the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, a bill that increased discretionary spending by $300 billion.[47] After his vote, he said, "I ran for Congress to get the economy going again by reducing taxes, regulations, deficits and debt. A $300 billion increase in discretionary spending along with hiking the debt ceiling fails on all accounts."[47]

Lewis authored a bill that would mandate an audit of the Department of Defense.[48] He later praised the department's decision to undergo an audit in 2018.[48]

Women's issues[edit]

In 2018, CNN reviewed many hours of audiotape recorded during the years when Lewis served as a substitute host for Rush Limbaugh. The network focused broad public attention upon those remarks for the first time. About women, he said:

Does a woman now have the right to behave — and I know there's a double standard between the way men chase women and running and running around — you know, I'm not going to get there, but you know what I'm talking about. But it used to be that women were held to a little bit of a higher standard. ... We required modesty from women. Now, are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can't call her a slut?


One of the reasons that the Democrats love the quote unquote female issue is because they know women vote more liberally than men do. Now you could say in a very, very sexist, misogynistic way that 'Well, that's because women just don't understand money. They don't understand, they're — they don't handle finances. They're guided by emotion, not reason. Why, that's why they didn't have the vote for a full century in the country'.[49]

Lewis defended his comments by stating that he was paid to be provocative and that "There's a difference between (being) a politician and a pundit." [50]

In 2011, Lewis decried laws prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace, claiming such laws are unconstitutional because they interfere with free speech.[51] That same year, Lewis mocked women who claimed to have been traumatized by unwanted sexual touching and kissing.[51]


  1. ^ Ancestry.com. Minnesota, Marriage Index, 1958–2001 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007
  2. ^ "Guide to the New Congress" (PDF). Roll Call. Retrieved January 3, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "KTLK-FM official Jason Lewis biography". Archived from the original on 29 September 2008. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  4. ^ Lambert, Brian (September 2, 2015). "'I wanted to make a political statement': a Q&A with former radio host Jason Lewis". MinnPost.
  5. ^ "The Jason Lewis Show Joins the GCN Radio Network". Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  6. ^ "Radio host Jason Lewis quits show while on the air". Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  7. ^ "GOP Rep. Jason Lewis Complained About Not Being Able to Call Women 'Sluts'". CNN. July 18, 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  8. ^ Kaczynski, Andrew; Massie, Chris; McDermott, Nathan. "A GOP congressman once lamented not being able to call women 'sluts' anymore". CNN. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  9. ^ Lewis, Jason (2011). Power divided is power checked : the argument for states' rights. Minneapolis, MN: Bascom Hill Pub Group. ISBN 978-1-935098-50-8. OCLC 668197899.
  10. ^ "Lewis' book offers provocative analysis on slavery and civil rights". Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  11. ^ Brucato, Cyndy (February 23, 2016). "Provocateur-turned-politician Jason Lewis finding that past comments can haunt the present". MinnPost. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  12. ^ a b c Roarty, Alex (16 May 2016). "Mini Trumps Sound Like the Nominee". Roll Call. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  13. ^ a b COTTLE, MICHELLE (12 August 2016). "Meet Minnesota's Mini-Trump". The Atlantic. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  14. ^ Brodkorb, Michael (22 February 2016). "Republican official says Jason Lewis' comments 'demonstrate ignorance'". Star Tribune. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  15. ^ Broadkorb, Michael (September 30, 2015). "GOP buzzing about possible Jason Lewis run for Congress". Star Tribune. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  16. ^ Scheck, Tom (27 March 2013). "Franken hires a campaign manager". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  17. ^ "Jason Lewis files paperwork to run for Congress". Retrieved 2016-08-11.
  18. ^ "Jason Lewis wins 2nd District GOP endorsement over David Gerson – Twin Cities". Retrieved 2016-08-11.
  19. ^ a b c d Pathé, Simone (9 August 2016). "Controversial Former Talk Radio Host Wins GOP Primary in Minnesota Battleground". Roll Call. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  20. ^ Brodey, Sam (10 August 2016). "It's Jason Lewis vs. Angie Craig in what's likely to be one of the most-watched congressional races in the country". Minn Post. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  21. ^ "Lewis' book offers provocative analysis on slavery and civil rights". Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  22. ^ Montgomery, David. "GOP’s Jason Lewis wins MN 2nd Congressional District; incumbent Democrats narrowly hold seats", TwinCites.com, November 8, 2016. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  23. ^ "Minnesota Election Results: Second House District". New York Times. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  24. ^ Golden, Erin (October 1, 2016). "Minnesota's Second District race is among the most-watched in the country". Star Tribune. Minneapolis. He and his wife, Leigh, have two daughters and live in Woodbury, just outside the Second District's border.
  25. ^ 1990 Election Results for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives; retrieved November 9, 2016
  26. ^ Results for Minnesota's 2nd congressional district; retrieved November 9, 2016
  27. ^ Willis, Derek. "Represent". ProPublica. Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  28. ^ Bycoffe, Aaron (2017-01-30). "Tracking Jason Lewis In The Age Of Trump". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  29. ^ "Jason Lewis' Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)". Vote Smart. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  30. ^ Connolly, Griffin; Connolly, Griffin (2018-05-29). "Criminal Justice System Reformers in House a Motley Bipartisan Crew". Roll Call. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  31. ^ "U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis joins bipartisan push for criminal justice reform". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  32. ^ "H.R. 4261, SAFE Justice Act of 2017 (115th Congress) | FAMM". FAMM. 2018-04-27. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  33. ^ "ACLU Urges Congress to Support the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 1809)". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  34. ^ "Support the SAFE Justice Act, H.R. 4261 | FreedomWorks". www.freedomworks.org. Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  35. ^ Lewis, Jason (July 23, 2011). "Jason Lewis: Drug war is a failure, so let's experiment". Star Tribune. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  36. ^ Lewis, Jason (July 22, 2013). "Next on Minnesota's social agenda: Marijuana". Star Tribune. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  37. ^ Mullen, Mike (April 7, 2017). "Jason Lewis (yes, that Jason Lewis) said something cool about marijuana". City Pages. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  38. ^ The New York Times (2017-03-20). "How House Republicans Planned to Vote on the Obamacare Replacement". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  39. ^ "How the House voted to pass the GOP health-care bill". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  40. ^ "Health care vote puts pressure on dozens of vulnerable GOP reps". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  41. ^ "Jason Lewis: Gays already have equal right to marry someone of opposite sex". MinnPost. Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  42. ^ a b c d "A Republican Congressman Seeking Reelection Once Compared Gay People To "Rapists" And Other Criminals". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  43. ^ "Congressman Running Against Lesbian Once Compared Gays to Rapists". 2018-08-08. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  44. ^ "Republican congressman compared gays to rapists and murderers". PinkNews. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  45. ^ "The UpTake – Jason Lewis Says Transgendered Students Using Bathroom Of Choice "An Abomination"". The UpTake. Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  46. ^ The New York Times (2017-12-19). "How Each House Member Voted on the Tax Bill". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-10-13.
  47. ^ a b "Lewis: 'No' to reckless government spending". Retrieved 2018-10-13.
  48. ^ a b "Lewis welcomes long called-for Pentagon Audit". SunThisweek. 2017-12-13.
  49. ^ U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis made disparaging comments about women on radio show Comments he made on his provocative show are getting a wider airing, Star-Tribune, J. Patrick Coolican, July 19, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  50. ^ Kaczynski, Andrew (July 19, 2018). "Rep. Jason Lewis stands by 'sluts' comments: 'I was paid to be provocative'". CNN. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  51. ^ a b "GOP Rep. Jason Lewis once mocked women who felt traumatized by unwanted touching". 2018.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Kline
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Angie Craig