Republican challengers in the 2020 election, Jason Lewis and Michelle Fischbach, were hosted by the Becker County GOP at the historic Holmes Theatre in Detroit Lakes during the annual Lincoln-Reagan dinner on Friday, Sept. 11, ahead of this week's Bemidji campaign stop by President Donald Trump on Friday.
Lewis, who is challenging Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith in the 2020 election, emphasized his campaign's 87-county strategy and said Smith is spending too much time in the Twin Cities.
"We've been through (the Detroit Lakes-area) many times because we're investing in Greater Minnesota and we're trying to represent the forgotten men and women of Minnesota," said Lewis.
Smith visited small businesses in downtown Detroit Lakes on Sept. 1 as part of a regional tour of Becker and Clay counties, including stops in Moorhead and the surrounding areas.
Lewis said the senator's stance on addressing the role police in our society is the wrong approach.
"We've all been to a bad doctor, right?" said Lewis, "but we do not castigate the medical profession, and that's what she did. She threw the men and women of the police under the bus, she then endorsed (Rep. Ilhan Omar), after Omar said they were rotten to the root, after Omar said we've got to dismantle the entire system, so I've called on (Smith) to undo that. I've called on her to condemn ANTIFA, but we get nothing but crickets."
Minnesota 7th congressional district challenger Michelle Fischbach, a former state senator and lieutenant governor of Minnesota under Gov. Mark Dayton, is challenging Rep. Collin Peterson, who has served as the district's representative since 1991. Fischbach said Peterson backs Nancy Pelosi's agenda and actually voted to keep her in power as speaker of house.
"You can call yourself a conservative, but (Peterson) votes with Nancy Pelosi 80% of the time," said Fischbach, "and, that's an agenda that I don't think people of the 7th District agree with."
Election forecasters Larry Sabato, of Sabato's Crystal Ball, and the Cook Political Report have both classified the Minnesota 7th District race as a toss-up in their most recent forecasts. President Trump, in an effort to turn Minnesota's 10 electoral college votes red in the presidential election for the first time since 1972, is planning a visit to Bemidji on Friday, Sep. 18, with many candidates for office planning to attending.
Lewis said he will be attending Trump's campaign stop in Bemidji, which is now set for 3 p.m.
"It's great to have the president's endorsement and his shout-outs at the rallies, that helps a lot," said Lewis. "It helps us get our name out there...and he wants help in the Senate, it's the last firewall."
Brian Anderson, GOP-endorsed state legislative candidate for District 4B, didn't say if he was going to make it out to Bemidji on Friday, but he had the opportunity to meet the president at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport during his recent campaign event in August.
"I think there is a lot of positivity in this state, outside of the metro, for President Trump," said Brian Anderson
Anderson is challenging DFL-incumbent Rep. Paul Marquardt, whose district encompasses parts of Becker and Clay counties, including Detroit Lakes.
Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, a Detroit Lakes-native and a former Republican candidate for Minnesota governor, said Hennepin County and Detroit Lakes are "two different worlds."
"I feel good about (President) Trump's chances," said Johnson. "And if Trump wins Minnesota, Michelle Fischbach is in Congress, and probably Jason Lewis is a senator, and the legislative candidates here will probably win on the Republican side because he'll carry that with him."
However, Johnson said, trying to make predictions in today's highly charged political environment is "almost silly."