Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion/Omaha) just received two impressive Democratic insider endorsements in his re-match with progressive left Democratic nominee Kara Eastman. Bob Krist, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, and former Nebraska Democratic Party executive director Barry Rubin both publicly endorsed Rep. Bacon yesterday. The 2018 contest saw Mr. Bacon defeating Ms. Eastman, 51-49%, and the 2020 version is also expected to be competitive.
The US House general election ballot in the Cornhusker State is now set. In the 1st District, veteran Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Lincoln) will face state Sen. Kate Bolz in what could be a more competitive general election.
In the 2nd District, 2018 Democratic nominee Kara Eastman, who scored 49% of the vote against two-term Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillon/Omaha), will get her re-match after scoring a 61% victory over Ann Ashford, wife of former Congressman Brad Ashford (D-Omaha), and restaurant manager Gladys Harrison in last night’s Democratic primary. Rep. Bacon defeated a minor Republican opponent with 91% of the vote.
In the expansive 3rd District that occupies about 3/4 of the Nebraska land area, seven-term Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Gering/Grand Forks) easily defeated four Republican opponents with 82% of the vote. He will face marijuana legalization activist Mark Elworth Jr. in the general election. Mr. Elworth was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Rep. Smith is a prohibitive favorite to win in November.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R) was easily re-nominated last night with a 75% Republican regular primary win against minor opposition. For the Democrats, local Omaha business owner Chris Janicek topped a field of seven candidates in a campaign where no one even raised $100,000. Sen. Sasse now becomes a prohibitive general election favorite.
Today is Election Day in three states as two special congressional elections will be decided, and Nebraska holds its regular primary.
The California special election will fill the seat that former Rep. Katie Hill (D) resigned due to scandal in the latter part of 2019. The candidates are state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall) and retired Navy fighter pilot Mike Garcia (R). Both parties have spent heavily, and the candidates have raised and spent over $2 million apiece. Additionally, several points of controversy has arisen here as Smith was caught on camera belittling Garcia’s military experience, whether or not the all-mail voting system with limited polling places has been corrupted, and if the final result in a politically marginal district is a harbinger of what we might see nationally in November.
Don’t expect a quick result. With California’s system of allowing ballots to come in days after the election and having until July 15th to certify the vote, tonight’s vote will just be the beginning of what figures to be a rather long process. Regardless of the outcome, both candidates have qualified for the ballot in the November general election and will face each other again.
Late last year, Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) resigned his seat for family reasons and the successor will surely be chosen tonight. In a district that stretches through most of northwest Wisconsin, Republican state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) is the heavy favorite going into today’s balloting in a district that has become securely Republican during the current decade. The Democratic nominee, who has only spent about $350,000, is Wausau School Board member Tricia Zunker, but she has not attracted much in the way of national support. Expect a Tiffany victory in a vote plateau that should exceed 53 percent.
With Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) in no danger from a primary challenge today, the most hotly contested race is Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary.
Three candidates including 2018 nominee Kara Eastman, who scored 49% of the vote against two-term Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillon/Omaha) and returns for a re-match, are battling for the party nod. The other two contenders are Ann Ashford, wife of former Congressman Brad Ashford (D-Omaha), and restaurant manager Gladys Harrison. Ms. Eastman is favored to win tonight’s primary, and the 2nd District general election again promises to be a tight affair in one of the five districts throughout Nebraska and Maine that could yield an extra electoral vote to a presidential candidate.
More Governors and election officials are keeping their primary calendars intact but are changing their voting systems. As a precaution for COVID-19, a significant number of states are now implementing procedural changes from in-person voting to casting their votes by mail.
At the end of last week, political leaders in the following entities are the latest to take such action in relation to their upcoming primaries: Massachusetts (May 30 local elections), Minnesota (Aug 11 statewide primary), Nebraska (May 12), New Jersey (June 2), North Dakota (June 9), Ohio (ballots must be post-marked on or before April 27), and West Virginia (May 12).
Three more states are joining the popular trend of keeping their primary dates intact but changing to an all-mail system. The Alaska state Senate unanimously voted to stay with their August 18th state primary as scheduled but will instead conduct the election through the mail. An amendment to allow non-postal receptacle ballot depositing was defeated, however. The change to a mail system in response to COVID-19 precautions is expected to be adopted.
The Indiana Election Commission has agreed to waive the requirement to produce a reason for voting an absentee ballot after it moved the state’s May 5th primary to June 2nd. For this election, any voter who wants to vote through the mail can do so.
Nebraska election officials are continuing with their May 12th election but will allow counties to send mail ballots to their residents.
Former Rep. Brad Ashford’s (D-Omaha) wife, Ann Ferlic Ashford, announced yesterday that she will enter the Democratic congressional primary in hopes of challenging two-term Republican incumbent Don Bacon (R-Papillion) next year. Ms. Ashford almost ran in 2018, but the two agreed that her husband would attempt to regain the seat he lost to Mr. Bacon, a retired Air Force General. Ashford then proceeded to lose the Democratic primary to non-profit organization executive Kara Eastman, who would then lose in a close 51-49% result to Rep. Bacon.
Ms. Ashford, however, will also face Ms. Eastman. The latter woman has already announced that she is running in 2020, hoping to force a re-match with the Congressman. Mr. Ashford, also a former state legislator, served one term in the House before he was unseated during the last presidential election.
2018 Democratic nominee Kara Eastman, who held Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillon/Omaha) to a 51-49% victory margin, says she will run again in the next election cycle. Ms. Eastman upset former US Representative and ex-state Senator Brad Ashford (D-Omaha) in the 2018 Democratic primary to advance into the general election.
Though Mr. Ashford is an unlikely 2020 candidate, his wife, Ann Ferlic Ashford, confirms that she is seriously considering entering the race. Should this occur, a re-match of sorts would be decided before the main rerun is even held. Nebraska’s 2nd District is politically marginal, so we can expect this contest to again be competitive.
The Grassroots Targeting qualitative research organization yesterday released the results of their recent 1,000 voter survey of the Nebraska electorate and found first-term Sen. Deb Fischer (R) cruising to re-election. According to the GT results, Sen. Fischer would lead Lincoln City Councilwoman Jane Raybould (D), 63-28% if the election were held in the current time frame.
Omaha provided the state with a major political upset last night. In the 2nd District Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders’-backed Kara Eastman, a non-profit organization executive, edged former US Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Omaha) and scored a 51-49% upset victory for the party nomination. She will now oppose freshman Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion) in November. This will be a race to watch, but Mr. Bacon begins the general election as the favorite.
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