BURNSVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) - U.S. Representative Jason Lewis isn't taking blame for his defeat or the Democratic takeover of the House, instead pointing the finger at the late U.S. Senator John McCain.
In a column that appeared in Monday's print edition of The Wall Street Journal, the Minnesota congressman wrote "Who lost the House? John McCain." Lewis's comments were quickly criticized by prominent Republicans, McCain's daughter and the senator's former aides.
Lewis argues that Democrats retook control of the chamber because of McCain's deciding vote against repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Democrats said the GOP repeal plan would've gutted protections for people with pre-existing conditions, framing an election with health care as the top issue in public polls.
"His July 2017 vote killed ObamaCare repeal and made Democratic lies impossible to refute," Lewis wrote.
McCain's friends and family came to the defense of the late senator, who died earlier this year. Several noted that Lewis's column was published on the day Veterans Day is observed. McCain was held prisoner during the Vietnam War after his plane was shot down by the North Vietnamese.
"This is abhorrent," tweeted Meghan McCain, John McCain's daughter.
Political observers said Lewis was attempting to shift blame for his own six-point loss to Democrat Angie Craig. Lewis aligned himself closely with President Donald Trump despite the president's unpopularity in suburban districts.
"The bottom line: there was an election, there was a tremendous debate on health care -- often quite substantive -- and Jason Lewis lost," said Larry Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political science professor.
Lewis's campaign manager did not return a phone call. Government offices were closed Monday in observance of Veterans Day, and no one from Lewis's office returned messages seeking comment.
Lewis was a conservative talk host before getting elected. Jacobs said Lewis's column may signal that the one-term congressman plans to return to his old line of work.
"It looks like he’s turning around and trying to restart his terrific career as a media provocateur," Jacobs said.