Angie Craig gets rematch against Jason Lewis in 2nd Congressional District

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After narrowly losing her first bid for Congress in 2016, Democrat Angie Craig is getting a second crack at defeating first-term Republican Rep. Jason Lewis this fall.

Craig, a former medical device company executive from Eagan, easily won the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party endorsement on Saturday for Minnesota’s south suburban 2nd Congressional District seat.

This Aug. 24, 2016 photo shows Minnesota' s 2nd Congressional District candidate Angie Craig in Minneapolis. Craig, a Democrat and former medical technology executive, Will face Republican Jason Lewis for the U.S. House seat. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Angie Craig (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Craig, 46, was endorsed on the first ballot at the DFL convention at Burnsville High School, defeating Jeff Erdmann, a Rosemount High School teacher and head football coach.

After the vote, Craig said the biggest difference between this year and 2016 is how energized suburban Democrats and others who want change in Washington are.

“The first thing that’s different is there’s energy like I’ve never, ever seen before here,” she said, adding that her campaign already has 550 more volunteers, including Republican women, this year than she had in 2016.

“If you look at the hundreds of committed volunteers that came out during this historic blizzard today, this district is clearly energized and we’re going to win in November,“ she said.


RELATED: No endorsement in 8th Congressional District DFL race


Lewis’ campaign manager Becky Alery said in a statement DFLers “officially rubber-stamped former lobbyist and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Washington elite’s favorite candidate, Angie Craig.”

Alery accused Craig of failing to tell voters where she stands on such issues as a single-payer health plan, the Enbridge Pipeline that delivers crude oil to the Pine Bend Refinery in Rosemount and whether she’d support Nancy Pelosi for House speaker.

“Perhaps she’s just trying to keep her far-left, radical viewpoints under wraps for as long as possible,” she said.

A POLITICAL REMATCH SET

Craig’s endorsement sets up a rematch in one of the most closely contested — and expensive — races in America two years ago. Lewis won the seat by 1.8 percentage points, despite being outspent by Craig, $4 million to $1 million. Outside groups pumped millions more into the race.

Craig told DFL delegates she expects pro-Republican groups to spend $10 million against her this year.

“Republicans know he (Lewis) is the second most-vulnerable Republican, supposedly, in Congress right now,” she said in an interview. “This is a top-10 race this cycle, according to the Washington Post, and we know there is a lot of money about to be poured in.”

After spending almost $1 million of her own money on her 2016 campaign, Craig announced in July she would not “self-fund” this year. Last week, she reported raising more than $1 million since October, including $520,000 in the first three months of this year. Lewis had collected nearly $1 million in donations before Jan. 1.

Craig is a former senior vice president at St. Jude Medical. She left that position in February 2017 to devote more time to her campaign.

She and her wife, Cheryl, have four sons. If elected, she would be the first openly gay member of Congress from Minnesota.

BATTLEGROUND DISTRICT SEEN AS TOSSUP

The 2nd is a battleground district, one of the most closely divided in the country. The election outcome could help decide which party controls the U.S. House and shape future national policy.

Three outside congressional handicapping groups rate this seat as a tossup. It’s one of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s top targets this year.

The district stretches from the southern Twin Cities suburbs to rural Goodhue and Wabasha counties, but suburban voters dominate elections there. They comprise 87 percent of the district’s population.

Those voters also are ticket splitters who regularly elect both Democrats and Republicans to various offices in the same election. District voters backed President Barack Obama by one-tenth of a percentage point in 2012 and Donald Trump by 2 percentage points in 2016. 

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