MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – Patches of sun blanketed the Twin Cities over the weekend, bringing a heat that hasn’t been felt by Minnesotans for weeks. Like many folks do in warm autumn weather before the cold takes over, Ken Bielski was raking and tidying up his yard when he stopped and explained why he’d be sticking with incumbent Republican candidate Jason Lewis for the 2nd Congressional District.
“Lewis stands for what I believe in—personal responsibility and minimum taxes,” said Bielski, a 63-year-old sales representative from Apple Valley.
A red, white and blue sign for Angie Craig – Lewis’ Democratic opponent in the 2nd District race – was staked in the next yard.
“We’re friends,” Bielski joked with a grin, referring to his neighbor.
The 2nd Congressional District covers the southern Twin Cities’ metro area. Bielski voted for President Donald Trump in 2016. When asked about his thoughts on the Trump presidency today, he said Trump is bombastic and thin-skinned.
“But, he’s not a politician. He says what he thinks unlike other politicians because he’s not a politician,” Bielski explained.
Bielski said he does not necessarily like Trump but likes how he has “stirred up the hornet’s nest.”
Trump has also swayed his decision to vote for Lewis.
“Democrats are not fully respecting the election process according to our Constitution. You have people who in essence are doing everything in their power to turn back the 2016 election and are not paying attention to the mandate of the people,” Bielski said.
Lewis was a conservative radio talk show host before being starting a career in politics in 2015.
Republicans have dominated the 2nd District historically, but Lewis, who has a Trump-like style, was not considered a strong contender in 2016 by GOP leaders.
Craig, a former health care executive, was considered by many Democrats to be the sure winner two years ago but surprisingly lost the seat to Lewis by just 2 percentage points.
In the congressional rematch, Craig is talking less about a referendum on Trump and more about Lewis’ track record on tax cuts and health care, an area in which she is well versed because of her background.
Craig is also outspending Lewis in TV and radio ads. She has spent a total of $2.8 million compared to Lewis’ $1.9 million.
A recent New York Times poll shows Craig getting 51 percent of the vote compared to 39 percent for Lewis.
If Craig is able to grab the 2nd District seat, she’ll be first Democratic since 2001 to take it and her victory will also align with the political changes Minnesota has shown. The largest metro area, Minneapolis and St. Paul, is becoming more liberal while greater Minnesota is becoming more conservative.
Tinkering with his pickup truck, a former Republican who wished to remain anonymous said he now describes himself as an Independent and said the political climate has been disappointing.
“The people who really care should be in there. I think if we had term limits it would be the best thing no matter what the party,” the voter said, adding he is “fatigued” over the onslaught of political ads and big money in elections.