One of the goals of partisan gerrymandering is to reduce the number of swing districts in Congress. The success of that by Republicans in 2010 is why so many are doubtful that Democrats can make many gains in the 2016 election. With 435 seats up for play, it can be difficult to track them all. But I can tell you that there is at least one “swing” seat in the House that is at play this time around. And it happens to be the one I live in.
The reason Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District is considered a swing seat is because it went for Obama in both 2008 and 2012 (just barely in 2012). But for the last fourteen years we’ve been represented by Republican John Kline. While not a member of what I sometimes call the “lunatic caucus,” Kline has been a reliable vote for Republicans on efforts to impede any progress on issues. This year he decided not to run for re-election.
A couple of months ago I previewed the race for this open seat by talking about one of the Republicans in the primary race – radio shock-jock Jason Lewis. As a reminder, this is the guy who said that President Lincoln “exploited the issue” of slavery in the “war between the states,” compared marriage equality to slavery, and said that young single women are “non-thinking.” On his radio show, Lewis said the “white population” has been “committing political suicide” and “committing cultural suicide.”
This month at their convention, 2nd District Republicans endorsed Jason Lewis. He still faces a possible challenge in the August primaries, but those are usually won by the person with name recognition and access to money – both of which favor Lewis at this point. So far all intents and purposes, he is the presumptive nominee. That led Alex Roarty at Roll Call to label him one of two “Mini-Trumps” running this year (the other is Carlos Beruff, who is running for the Florida Senate seat). Let that one sink in for a moment: in one of the few House swing districts in the country, Republicans endorsed a “Mini-Trump.”
Lewis’ opponent in November will be Angie Craig, an executive with St. Jude Medical who is openly gay and has raised four children with her wife Cheryl. Craig is running to make high quality public education and debt-free college our highest priorities; build a sustainable economy and create meaningful, good-paying jobs; protect seniors and expand healthcare access; invest in infrastructure to grow our economy; create a truly fair and accepting America; and protect our environment and slow the pace of climate change.
Just this week, the Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report changed this race from “pure toss-up” to “toss-up/tilt Democrat.” I suspect that is all about the reality that “Mini-Trump” isn’t going to play well is this swing district.