Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) and Jason Lewis (R)

With all the 'rona and riots, we have to keep reminding ourselves occasionally that there are national elections this fall. Still! With Minnesota at the center of the news this last week after the death-by-cop of George Floyd, and the subsequent riots, we'll take a look at the reelection campaign for Minnesota's junior senator, Tina Smith. Smith has herself been a bit overshadowed in the last year by the presidential run of her colleague, Amy Klobuchar. Smith is probably a safe bet for reelection in blue blue Minnesota (but never get complacent, for Crom's sake). The campaign still has the potential to make news, if only because the presumptive Republican nominee, former radio talk show host Jason Lewis, is a first-rate asshat with a real talent for making racist and misogynist remarks. It's quite a contrast: Smith is the only member of the US Senate to have worked with Planned Parenthood, and Lewis was once featured in Yr Wonkette's "This Week in Garbage Men."


Standard Political Résumé Stuff

Smith has been a mover and shaker in Minnesota politics and the state's charmingly named Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party ("DFL," not "Dem") for quite a while. She worked on Mark Dayton's 2010 campaign for governor, and once he took office, she became his chief of staff. In 2014, Smith ran as Dayton's Lieutenant Governor and won, then Dayton appointed her to fill Al Franken's seat when Franken resigned late in 2018. Smith won the 2018 special election to fill out the remaining two years of the term, and here she is running for reelection. She's reliably pro-choice, having served as a VP for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and in general has been exactly the sort of quietly effective junior senator you'd expect from a deep blue state. After Mitch McConnell blocked a proposed bipartisan committee on climate change last year, Smith was among the Senate Dems who created an informal all-Democrat panel to work on the issue, because for fuckssake. As chair Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) put it, the unusual arrangement was necessary, because "The goofy stuff is done. We are treating this like the planetary emergency that it is."

Speaking of goofy stuff, that would be your Republican candidate, Jason Lewis, a veteran of his own rightwing radio show, a failed venture to start a social network for Ayn Rand fans, and a frequent guest host for Rush Limbaugh. In 2016, Lewis managed to ride his own far right credentials and Donald Trump's ketchup-stained coattails to a single term in the US House of Representatives. The only notable thing he accomplished there was constantly trying to downplay the incredibly shitty stuff he'd said in his radio career. Also, after he lost his seat to DFL candidate Angie Craig in the blue wave of 2018, Lewis pretty ingeniously explained that John McCain's vote against killing Obamacare in 2018 was the the real reason Republicans lost the House in 2018. Because lord knows if millions of Americans had lost their healthcare, voters would surely have rewarded the GOP with a huge victory.

Being A Rightwing Asshole Doesn't Count If It's Your Job

And gosh, what a fine legacy of idiot comments Lewis has from his radio career! You may recall him as the guy who complained bitterly, following Rush Limbaugh's patriotic and biologically impossible 2012 rants about sluts using birth control, that men just plain aren't allowed to call women sluts anymore, no matter how slutty those women dressed and behaved, like sluts:

Well, the thing is, can we call anybody a slut? [...] 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?

But have we really got to the point where you can't refer to Madonna as a slut without being sued? I mean, Madonna has had a series of lovers, as have many in Hollywood. Now in the old days, what did we call this? Madonna dresses up in these sorts of prostitute-like outfits on stage, and she goes there and she sings and she shows half of her body. What did we call those people? 30 years ago? 40 years ago? 50 years ago? You can't do that today, it's too politically incorrect?

After plainly calling 1980s-90s pop star Madonna a slut in 2012, Lewis was, oddly, not sued. And a spokesperson from his congressional office explained, when the comments came up in the "me-too" news in 2018, that it was totally unfair to even bring up all that ancient history from six years before, because "This has all been litigated before, and as Congressman Lewis has said time and time again, it was his job to be provocative while on the radio." Ergo, he cannot ever be considered responsible for horrible things he said way back in the distant past, in the job that won him the seat.

He also said other lovely things about women, like that time in 2011 when he mocked women for saying Herman Cain's unwanted touching made them uncomfortable. Silly ladies! Then-radio guy Lewis explained Cain's alleged behavior was no big deal, because after all, it's not like he actually raped them:

I don't want to be callous here, but how traumatizing was it? [...] How many women at some point in their life have a man come on to them, place their hand on their shoulder or maybe even their thigh, kiss them, and they would rather not have it happen, but is that really something that's going to be seared in your memory that you'll need therapy for?

You'll never get over? It was the most traumatizing experience? Come on! She wasn't raped!

Again, it was on the radio and "provocative," so no fair to dredge it up now. Just as it's unfair to mention the time, also in 2012, when he griped that "single women" (who he cant' even call sluts!) are "ignorant in, I mean, the most generic way. I don't mean that to be a pejorative. They are simply ignorant of the important issues in life." Mostly because the sole thing they care about is getting taxpayers to pay for their diaphragms, the idiots:

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.

Also off limits, because it was in 2015 and he wasn't yet in Congress, would be a post-Obergefell audio update to his 2011 book about states' rights (they are good), where he explained that the federal government had no business in either outlawing slavery or legalizing gay marriage.

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.

Oh, yes, and in 2013 he also said gay couples are a lot like rapists, in that they don't deserve equal rights, and that gay marriage would lead to polygamy and shred the Constitution. In other words, he's a standard Republican of the modern era.

This Should Be An Easy Choice, Minnesota. Don't Fuck It Up

But that is all in the ancient past! What about now? Lewis is still an asshole, turns out! Before the pandemic outbreak, he praised a Minnesota county that voted to ban refugees, although technically no refugees had been resettled there in five years. As part of his Senate campaign, Lewis has toured Minnesota to insist Gov. Tim Walz's stay at home orders are illegal and tyrannical. He even sued Walz, claiming public health is unconstitutional and had interfered with his ability to campaign. He tried to accuse Smith of being just like Richard Burr or Kelly Loeffler, because her husband sold stock in March; that doesn't seem likely to get any traction, though, since the stocks had nothing to do with the coronavirus. Oh, yes, and early on in the outbreak, Lewis explained that the resulting stock market crash was a fantastic investing opportunity.

The police murder of George Floyd has, of course, been addressed by both candidates. Sen. Smith joined Klobuchar in leading a Democatic call for the Justice Department to investigate systemic racism in the Minneapolis Police Department. Not to be outdone, Lewis has also called for an investigation, too: He wants Democrats in Minnesota to be investigated for causing the riots. On Fox and Friends Saturday, Lewis insisted the riots have nothing to do with years of abuse by police, but rather with Walz and other state leaders not being willing to bust more heads, because nothing stops riots over abusive policing like more abusive policing:

"This has nothing to do with the memory of Mr. Floyd," he asserted. "Everybody was on board and getting to the bottom of that. But Democrats in charge in Minnesota...are now trying to push the blame someplace else? They're the ones [who] created this powder keg. They're the ones [who] have been in charge" [...]

And I will tell you, heads need to roll here. This has been a devastating week for the state of Minnesota,"

Lewis secured his party's endorsement yesterday in a state nominating convention held entirely online because of the pandemic; somehow, he forgot to sue the MInnesota GOP for denying him the chance to win the nod in a crowded convention center as God intended. The DFL delayed its online convention, but is expected to endorse Smith. Both candidates will then need to formalize their wins in a primary in August; the state legislature recently passed a bill to expand no-excuse absentee voting for both the primary and November's general election. A push to hold the election entirely by mail was opposed by Republicans, because they are jerks, the end.

Or not quite the end: If you can afford it, send a few dollars Smith's way, because there's no way Jason Lewis should ever be inside the US Capitol again except as a tourist.

[KEYC / Minnesota Public Radio / New York / Atlantic / City Pages / Star-Tribune / WCCO / City Pages / Fox News / Minnesota Public Radio / Minnesota Post /Tina Smith for Minnesota]

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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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