On Friday, former Minnesota state Rep. Jeremy Kalin took to Twitter with his own Lewis radio story.
Kalin says that in 2008, in his first term representing Chisago County, a producer of Lewis’ radio show called. A GOP House staffer had attributed a quote to Kalin during a floor debate, and the producer wanted to verify it so Lewis could use it for his main segment that night.
The alleged quote: “welfare recipients are the real working people of Minnesota.”
“I can’t believe that’s what I said,” Kalin replied. He and his staff combed through video of the debate, watching his address again and again. He never said anything like that.
Within the hour, he called Lewis’ producer back to tell them the quote was “quite fabricated and not true.” He read him exactly what he’d said.
By his recollection, it was either that same evening or the next day that Lewis put him on blast for the welfare quote, in what Kalin calls “an extended statement assailing my character, my integrity, and my judgment.” (Lewis didn’t respond to interview requests.)
For months, Kalin says, he had to explain to his mostly conservative constituents that what Lewis said wasn’t true. In the end, he thinks it won him more votes than it cost him. Some of the conservative activists he’d befriended over the years were more disgusted with Lewis for spreading false rumors than they were about Kalin’s “quote.”
Still, the experience colored his view of Lewis for good. He watched him scrape into office in 2016 by 1.8 percentage points, ascending to a position for which Kalin believes him to be “unfit.” He watched Lewis parrot President Donald Trump, voting with him 90.6 percent of the time. Then he watched as clips from his radio show suddenly resurfaced, like skeletons washed out of flooded graves.
None of the revelations about sluts and race wars made Kalin bat an eye.
“It’s sadly just a reflection of who he is and what poor judgment he has,” Kalin says. “I know who he is, and nothing surprises me about the base comments he’s willing to make.”