MINNEAPOLIS — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis of Minnesota underwent successful emergency surgery for a severe internal hernia on Monday, just eight days before Election Day, his campaign announced.
The campaign said the condition could have been life-threatening if not treated quickly. An internal hernia is a bulge or protrusion of an organ — often the bowel into the abdomen. It can cause an obstruction or other problems.
But campaign manager Tom Szymanski said in a follow-up statement that his surgery was “successful and minimally invasive. Provided that his recovery continues on a positive trajectory, doctors anticipate that he is likely to be released from the hospital in the next couple of days.”
Szymanski didn’t say when Lewis might resume campaigning.
Lewis, a one-term former congressman best known to Minnesota voters from his days as a conservative talk radio host, is challenging incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith. He worked Charlotte’s WBT radio for several years.
Minnesota Republican state chair Jennifer Carnahan told reporters that Lewis was hospitalized in Hibbing, where Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to lead a rally Monday afternoon. Szymanski declined to disclose where Lewis was hospitalized, but he confirmed that Lewis had planned to attend Pence’s event.
“Praying for a Successful Surgery and Quick Recovery for our Friend @LewisForMN,” Pence tweeted. “Today. Minnesota and America are with you!”
Lewis experienced severe abdominal pain early Monday morning and was taken to an emergency room, Szymanski said in the first announcement. “Prior to being taken to the operating room, Jason was in good spirits, optimistic, and true to form, he was speculating about when he could resume campaigning, eager to continue fighting for his fellow Minnesotans,” he said.
Smith tweeted well-wishes to Lewis for “a successful surgery and a speedy recovery.”
Lewis has been all-in for President Donald Trump during the campaign. He has stressed their common opposition to coronavirus restrictions, support for law and order in the state where George Floyd was killed, and the need to put Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court.
Trump has returned the love with frequent name-checks at recent rallies in Minnesota. Lewis was part of the welcoming committee when Trump arrived in Minneapolis on his most recent visit, and he got to fly with Trump on Air Force One. He has taken himself off the campaign trail twice due to potential coronavirus exposures but tested negative.
A recent New York Times/Siena College poll gave Smith a 9-point lead over Lewis, the same margin that the same poll gave Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden over Trump in Minnesota. And the race isn’t showing up on major handicappers’ lists of Senate seats likely to flip.