BEMIDJI -- A former Republican representative who’s looking to return to Washington in the upper chamber of Congress stopped by Bemidji on Wednesday as his campaign traveled through northern Minnesota.

A career radio host turned politician, Jason Lewis has launched a campaign for the U.S. Senate, with the hope of defeating Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Sen. Tina Smith. If he wins the GOP nomination, Lewis will compete in his third election since 2016.

Lewis won Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District seat in 2016, before losing it in 2018 to Rep. Angie Craig. In speaking with the Pioneer, Lewis said he was interested in returning to Congress, but this time in a different capacity.

“I thought, where can you have the most impact? What is the last firewall for freedom? It’s the U.S. Senate,” Lewis said. “If we don’t get back the House, if we lose the presidency and lose the Senate, all is lost. That’s the principal of the vision I had.”

If he were to win in November 2020, Lewis said he would want to continue where he left off from his last term in Congress.

Lewis told the Pioneer he was proud to have served in “what Speaker (Paul) Ryan called the ‘single most productive session he’s ever seen.’ He said Congress tackled issues such as tax and regulatory reform, childhood education, VA reform and energy independence.

“I want to continue what we did in the 115th,” Lewis said. “I want to make certain we don’t go backward on taxes and regulation. That’s No. 1, to keep the economy going. A component of that is letting the renaissance on the Range continue with the discovery of the copper nickel.”

Along with industry on the Iron Range, Lewis is a supporter of Enbridge Energy’s proposed Line 3 oil pipeline replacement, and was critical of Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s move to delay it.

Going into 2020, Lewis will face off with Rob Barrett Jr. on the GOP side. Barrett is an assistant professor at North Central University and a composer.

On the DFL side, Steve Carlson, who’s launched campaigns for the Senate in 2014 and 2018, is challenging Smith in the primary. Smith was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton and then won the 2018 election to hold onto the seat, defeating state Sen. Karin Housley.