RED WING, Minn. — On Thursday, Aug. 22, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith visited three communities in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District: the Prairie Island Indian Community, Red Wing, and Wabasha. Thursday also marked the day that former District 2 Rep. Jason Lewis officially declared that he will challenge Smith for her Senate seat.

Smith was appointed to the position by Gov. Mark Dayton after Al Franken’s resignation in December 2017. In 2018, she beat her Republican opponent, Karin Housley, to complete Franken’s term. In 2020, she will have to run for the seat again, this time for a full six-year term.

While Smith won her 2018 race, Lewis did not. The representative lost to current Rep. Angie Craig. In 2016, Lewis defeated Craig for the seat.

Former Congressman Jason Lewis on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, announced he would run for U.S. Senate in 2020 against Sen. Tina Smith. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service
Former Congressman Jason Lewis on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, announced he would run for U.S. Senate in 2020 against Sen. Tina Smith. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service

While at the Red Wing Shoe Co., Smith was asked about Lewis’ announcement that he will challenge her in the upcoming election.

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“Well, you know it’s 15 months away and I am really focused on doing my job as a senator right now and that’s what I love to do,” Smith said while in Red Wing. “I think at the end of the day, I’m just thinking about what Minnesotans are thinking about, which is prescription drug costs being too high, how can they get the kind of amazing workforce training that they need to get great jobs like they can get here at Red Wing Shoes, and that’s where I’m going to stay focused as long as I can.”