Voters in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District already had plenty of reasons to oust Republican Rep. Jason Lewis in November’s midterm elections. Now, CNN has unearthed more disgraceful comments Lewis—who is sometimes referred to as a “mini-Trump”—made as a conservative radio host from 2009-2012 and in subsequent podcasts.
In addition to making racist and misogynistic statements, Lewis seems to have little respect for his constituents—particularly Democrats—whom he referred to as “idiot voters” in a 2012 episode of his radio show. That comment is among several questionable statements Lewis has made in the past that were recently shared by CNN’s KFile, which obtained audio recordings from MinnPost columnist Michael Brodkorb, the Minnesota Republican Party’s former deputy chair.
In those recordings, made before Lewis was narrowly elected to Congress in 2016, he referred to recipients of government assistance programs as “parasites.” And as CNN reported, he also claimed that the black community had “traded one plantation for another.”
“The parasites outnumber the producers,” Lewis said in September 2012 to describe why then-President Barack Obama was leading Mitt Romney in election polls. “Then, when the parasites outnumber the producers, the party of parasites will give the majority of votes,” he added.
In the same show, Lewis called Democratic voters “unpatriotic” and “scoundrels.”
These comments add to others reported by CNN earlier this month, in which Lewis accused the African American community of having an “entitlement mentality.”
He also lamented his inability to call women “sluts” without generating public scorn:
“Does a woman now have the right to behave — and I know there’s a double standard between the way men chase women and running and running around — you know, I’m not going to get there, but you know what I’m talking about. But it used to be that women were held to a little bit of a higher standard. We required modesty from women. Now, are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can’t call her a slut?”
He also has called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “unconstitutional,” criticized desegregation busing, and compared the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to Jim Crow.
“Now the government determines who you shall hire, who you should work next to, and when you’re going to be thrown in jail or fined civilly for refusing to employ or serve or do whatever the government says you ought to do,” Lewis said. “The irony of this is the last time we tried this was during Jim Crow when the government used to mandate segregation.”
To repeat, he was referring here to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Lewis’ spokeswoman, Becky Alery, has tried to downplay all of this by saying voters should ignore comments the congressman made while working as a radio host and focus on his record. CNN’s coverage “does little to add to the debate,” she said.
His Democratic opponent in the upcoming midterms, Angie Craig, a former journalist and healthcare manufacturing executive, told The New York Times that “comments like this don’t represent Minnesota values.”
Let’s hope not, come November.