ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District is one of the most closely watched congressional races in the country and may ultimately determine which party controls the United States House of Representatives.
The contest pits two political newcomers against one another: Democrat Angie Craig and Republican Jason Lewis. The two, who are looking to fill the seat of retiring Rep. John Kline, squared off in a head-to-head debate at Minnesota Public Radio’s studio on Thursday, sparring over everything from Donald Trump to climate change to health care.
In Minnesota, residents participating in MNsure will see individual premiums spike an average of at least 50 percent next year. Gov. Mark Dayton is one of several lawmakers who have come out recently and said the Affordable Care Act has gotten too expensive for some and residents
The two candidates laid out their health care positions. Craig said she wants to fix what’s broken, while Lewis said he believes the system is beyond repair.
"The only people left supporting Obamacare now are Nancy Pelosi, who's been raising money for Angie, and Angie Craig, who said she wants to expand the affordable care act,” Lewis said. “This is an unmitigated disaster.”
Craig said lawmakers need to figure out how to control the cost of health care.
"We already have 4.3 percent uninsured in this state,” Craig said. “If we can make it more affordable, if we can actually drive the cost of healthcare down, I don't want to go back to a time where women paid more than men, where pre-existing conditions prohibited someone from having insurance."))
The issue of federal funding for transportation projects, including the contentious, nearly $2 billion Southwest Light Rail Transit project that would connect Minneapolis and Eden Prairie, is also dividing the candidates.
Lewis, the former talk radio host turned GOP congressional hopeful was also forced to answer whether he supports the man at the top of the ticket for the Republican Party.
"I am not willing to turn the country back to the Clintons,” Lewis said.
When asked if he supports Trump, Lewis said, “I will vote for him.”
The 2nd Congressional District which covers the south metro, including Burnsville and Eagan and runs into southeastern Minnesota is the only true, open seat in the state this election.
Most pundits had given Craig the edge early on, but there are signs and lots of money pouring in to suggest this race will be close.