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'Rush Limbaugh' of Minn. Wins GOP Primary

Image: 'Rush Limbaugh' of Minn. Wins GOP Primary

Jason Lewis, Republican candidate for Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District. (Tom Williams/AP)

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Thursday, 11 Aug 2016 10:44 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The landslide nomination of controversial radio talk-show host Jason Lewis for Congress by Republicans in Minnesota has captured headlines in the Gopher State.

The talkmeister known as the “Rush Limbaugh of Minnesota” and more recently “Minnesota’s Donald Trump,” rolled up a big margin in Minnesota's 2nd District over businesswoman Darlene Miller (who had the endorsement of retiring GOP Rep. John Kline) and former state Sen. John Howe.

In facing what is sure to be a knock-down battle with Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (the official name of Minnesota’s Democratic Party), Lewis, much as Trump is, is sure to be under fire for incendiary statements he made on the airwaves. These range from his 2009 commentary that “real Americans” believe the Hurricane Katrina victims were “a bunch of whiners” and, more recently, that the desire of transgender Americans to use their bathroom of choice was “an abomination.”

Lewis’s big win comes a week after retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jack Bergman beat two state senators in the GOP primary for Congress in Michigan’s 1st District.

That same day as Bergman won, former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens raised eyebrows in Missouri by capturing the Republican nomination for governor over three candidates who had previously won or sought office statewide.

The wins of political newcomers Greitens, Bergman, and now Lewis raise obvious questions: Is it an advantage this year in Republican primaries for office-seekers to come from a profession other than politics as opposed to being a seasoned office-holder?

Coupled with Donald Trump’s nomination for president, then, is 2016 shaping up as the “year of the outsider” for Republicans?

“There are two kinds of ‘outsider’ candidates,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and longtime conservative activist. “Ronald Reagan was a conservative who was ‘outside’ the moderate-to-liberal consensus of the Richard Nixon-Nelson Rockefeller Republican establishment.

“Then there are outsiders who have not held elected office before and therefore one does not know their philosophical core because they have not had to make public decisions on taxes, spending, transparency, regulations.”

“They are always surprises. Sometimes pleasant, sometimes quite unpleasant.”

Donald Critchlow, director of the Center for Political Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University, sees these recent developments in Republican primaries differently.

“Although outsiders running under the banner of Trump and against ‘the establishment’ have won in some places, the overall results have been mixed,” said Critchlow, who has just written a book on the modern Republican Party entitled “Future Right.” “Paul Ryan easily won his primary race against a candidate who was vociferous in his denunciation of Ryan as a ‘Republican in name only' and a globalist.”

Critchlow also pointed to the defeat of tea party hero and three-term Rep. Tim Huelskamp by an “establishment” candidate in Kansas’ Republican primary last week. He also noted that “equally revealing [in the Kansas Republican primary races] is that moderate Republicans in many state legislative races defeated tea party like incumbents, including the state Senate leader.

“Voters rejected [GOP Gov. Sam] Brownback’s cuts on school education, tax cuts for corporations, which were taken advantage by people declaring new corporations, and the failure to have economic growth and job creation anywhere outside of Johnson County, near Kansas City, Mo. Moderate Republicans swept into office running as outsiders. Declaring oneself an outsider can cut both ways.”

“If Trump and down ballot Republican candidates lose big this fall,” Critchlow predicted, “Expect a revolt against Trump and hardline tea party types in the grass roots. This is what happened after 2010 when tea party U.S. candidates were defeated in Delaware, Missouri, and Nevada. After 2010, the tea party supported candidates that were likely to win election.”

“There is a revolt of outsiders, but it can be exaggerated, much like ‘The Year of the Woman’ in 1992. It’s good media hype.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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The landslide nomination of controversial radio talk-show host Jason Lewis for Congress by Republicans in Minnesota has captured headlines in the Gopher State.
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