State Sen. Bob Krist yesterday announced that he will enter the Democratic gubernatorial primary in hopes of facing Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) in this year’s general election. Mr. Krist is now a former Republican, leaving the GOP to enter this race, though Nebraska state legislative races are non-partisan. The Democratic field has appeared weak to date, so Sen. Krist could prove himself viable enough to win the nomination despite just newly coming into the party. In any event, Gov. Ricketts will remain a strong favorite for re-election.
Democrat Brad Ashford was elected to the US House in 2014, but Republican Don Bacon (R-Papillion) ousted him two years later. This year, Mr. Ashford is attempting his own political comeback. But, him winning the Democratic nomination may be more difficult that first thought. Non-profit executive Kara Eastman is showing some political strength. This week she received endorsements from Omaha City Council President Ben Gray and Douglas County Democratic County chair Crystal Rhodes, who is also a Nebraska Public Service Commissioner. The Nebraska primary is May 15th, and this one may be one to watch.
A new Public Policy Polling survey (11/10-12; 1,190 NE registered voters; automated) tested the Nebraska electorate, and Democratic candidate Jane Raybould claims the results portray incumbent Sen. Deb Fischer (R) in a vulnerable light. According to PPP, Sen. Fischer would only lead Ms. Raybould, a Lincoln City Councilwoman, 42-31%. The Senator’s favorability index is upside down at 35:45%. These latter numbers are not particularly surprising coming from PPP, since their favorability questions routinely return negative ratios regardless of the individual being tested. Such a poll, while clearly not bringing Sen. Fischer positive news, is not, in and of itself, a reason to move this race higher on any targeting list.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) has drawn his first announced re-election challenger, but in a rather unexpected manner. Republican state Senator Bob Krist announced his challenge to Gov. Ricketts, but not the in the GOP primary…nor, will he run as a Democrat. Instead, Sen. Krist is forming his own political party under Nebraska election law and will attempt to qualify for the ballot as a general election third party candidate.
Mr. Krist says he wants to form a centrist political entity to attract moderate voters of all stripes. It will be interesting to see if the Nebraska Democratic leadership, unlikely to be particularly competitive against Gov. Ricketts, will field their own candidate in hopes of taking advantage of what could become a three-way race, or not file anyone and instead coalesce with Sen. Krist. This could become a race to watch.
Former Congressman Brad Ashford (D-NE), who defeated Rep. Lee Terry (R-Omaha) in 2014 but lost to current Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion) last November, is returning next year for a re-match. Months ago, Mr. Ashford and his wife, Ann Ferlic Ashford, publicly stated that one of them would likely become a 2018 congressional candidate. Yesterday, the ex-Representative officially declared his candidacy. The 2nd District seat, which comprises the Omaha metropolitan area, is politically marginal so Bacon-Ashford II will be a race to watch.
Former one-term Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Omaha), who earlier in the year said he would not seek a re-match with freshman Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion), is slightly changing his tune. After her husband made his original statement, the ex-Congressman’s wife, Ann Ferlic Ashford, said that she might become a candidate. Mr. Ashford clarified the situation this past week saying that either he or his wife will run next year. Both Rep. Bacon and Mr. Ashford are pro-business. Then-Rep. Ashford was a BIPAC Action Fund endorsed candidate in 2016.
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