Newly elected as U.S. representative in the Second Congressional District, Woodbury resident Jason Lewis said he believes voters gave Republicans a mandate during the Nov. 8 election.
With the presidency turning red and both bodies of Congress under Republican Party control, the former talk show host dubbed "Minnesota's Mr. Right" hopes to make progress on conservative initiatives in Washington.
"These first 100 days, fasten yourself in," Lewis said. "People are going to be surprised at what they do get done. We've got a movement, a mandate. That's thrilling to me."
Lewis — who with the exception of a four-year stint at a Charlotte, N.C., radio station has lived in Woodbury for more than 20 years — beat Eagan DFLer Angie Craig by a vote of 174,240 to 167,428, a less than 2 percent margin of victory. Independent Paula Overby finished with 28,904 votes (8 percent). While the district doesn't include Woodbury, Lewis won in Denmark Township, lost in Grey Cloud Island, won two of 11 precincts in Cottage Grove and won one of three precincts in St. Paul Park.
Lewis thinks he can represent the district that is "just a tee shot away" from his home.
The Congressman-elect said he remains realistic about his role in being a conservative voice at the nation's Capitol. Lewis describes himself as a "classical liberal," a term that drives Democrats nuts, he said. But he values freedom of individuals and limited government. His varied background in academia, business and the media will serve him well as he tries to "move the needle" toward more freedom and less government.
Lewis said he will listen, disagree and debate with constituents and elected officials and then do what he thinks is right.
During a recent interview at CRAVE in Woodbury, he smiled when his nickname was brought up.
"It's Right as in politically right and Right as in correct," Lewis said.
Minnesota's Mr. Right hosted a radio show on KTLK-FM beginning in 2006; he was exposed to a national audience as a frequent radio guest of Rush Limbaugh, and The Jason Lewis Show became nationally syndicated in '09.
Lewis moved to Woodbury in the '90s, though, when he took a job at KSTP in Maplewood.
"I moved to Woodbury before it was the Woodbury of today," he said. "Just kind of grew up with it."
Lewis and his wife, Leigh, lived in a little condo across from a 9-hole golf course along Woodlane Drive. When they moved back to Minnesota in '06, they looked on the west side of the Twin Cities for a home but then landed back in Woodbury — first in the Wedgewood Park neighborhood, then in Stonemill Farms.
Leigh works at Elsmore Swim Shop and coaches for Riptide Swim Team in Apple Valley, where the Lewises' daughter, Lauren, practices. Their daughter Lindsey is swimming at Leigh's alma mater, St. Cloud State University.
"It's 24-7," Lewis said. "Morning practice, evening practice. Boy, it's all day."
Lewis, who played high school, college and amateur baseball in Iowa and elsewhere, marvels at the synchronicity needed by swimmers but prefers walking.
"I can run forever, but swimming?" Lewis said. "And everything you did in baseball was fun."
He's been a member at Prestwick Golf Club in Woodbury for at least 20 years. In '14, his first year of retirement from radio, Lewis golfed 75 rounds. This year, it was seven.
When the Second Congressional District seat opened up with Congressman John Kline retiring, Lewis threw his name into the hat and ultimately prevailed after a contentious primary election season.
The road didn't get easier against Craig.
He felt an expensive, bitter campaign assassinated his personality and that his message resonated with voters. Negative ads waged war from both sides.
While he said the Democrats played politics in trying to win the open seat, he'll bury the hatchet and get things done in Washington, Lewis said. "There shouldn't be an edict."