ST. PAUL — A former Republican congressman gunning for one of Minnesota's two U.S. Senate seats this fall is launching a statewide RV tour pitching to "Re-Open Minnesota for Business."
Jason Lewis, who is seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., this fall, announced the tour in a Thursday, April 16 news release. He is set to kick off the tour with stops in the Twin Cities metro area on Friday. The news release did not release further details on the times or locations of the stops.
With Gov. Tim Walz ordering Minnesotans to stay at home and shutter non-essential businesses in an attempt to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, Lewis said Thursday that "the time is past due" to reopen the lagging economy.
As of Thursday, the state Department of Employment and Economic Development reports that over 464,000 Minnesotans have applied for unemployment benefits since March 16. Last week, Walz announced his stay-at-home order is extended until May 4 — after which point, Lewis "demands" businesses be allowed to reopen.
"Enough is enough," Lewis said in Thursday's release. "Minnesotans desperately need further economic relief."
Lewis is launching his RV tour as Minnesota remains under a stay-at-home order. Though Walz said he does not plan to arrest Minnesotans for violating the order, law enforcement officers have that authority. Minnesotans who violate the order could face fines up to $1,000 and a 90 days in jail.
As of Thursday, 1,912 Minnesotans have tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by coronavirus. Ninety-four have died as a result.