By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota U.S. Senate race is tightening according to a new poll out Thursday.

This comes as Republican candidate Jason Lewis begins making public appearances after emergency surgery earlier this week. The former U.S. Representative is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Tina Smith.

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And the race is now being called a toss-up. The latest poll shows Senator Tina Smith leading by three points over Jason Lewis 45-42.

Lewis, who is recovering from major abdominal surgery this week, says he thinks the tightening race is because of his emphasis on law and order and loosening COVID restrictions.

“We are coming home to sanity,” Lewis said. “You can’t continue with perpetual riots, perpetual lockdowns.”

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In these final weeks, Smith has had to balance a busy Senate schedule with nonstop campaign appearances statewide.

“How do you make sure you have access to childcare so that you can go back to work especially in the midst of this pandemic, how do you make sure your children are safe in school?” Smith said.

Through the campaign, Smith has had a sizable cash advantage. She has raised $14.6 million in defending her seat; Lewis has raised $5.6 million.

The money lead has allowed Smith to saturate the airwaves pointing to work for constituents. Lewis says a wave of new donations is now letting him put more ads on the air.

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The national website Real Clear Politics has moved the Smith-Lewis race from their leaning Democrat column to toss-up.

Esme Murphy