Two important seats being vacated by the incumbents will be filled with fresh faces today.
United States Sen. Mike Johanns, a Republican, surprised many when he decided not to run for re-election. Midland University President Ben Sasse of Fremont won the Republican primary easily. Omaha attorney Dave Domina is the Democratic candidate in a race that attracted not one, but two independent candidates: Jim Jenkins, a rancher and business owner from Callaway and Todd Watson, a CPA from Lincoln.
Gov. Dave Heineman ends a 10-year tenure at the end of the year. He cannot run for re-election due to term limits. Pete Rickets, a business executive from Omaha, emerged from a crowded Republican primary to face Democrat Chuck Hassebrook, the former executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons. A Libertarian, Mark Elworth, Jr., is also in the race.
An incredibly tight race has shaped up in the 2nd Congressional District comprised mainly of Omaha. Incumbent Republican Lee Terry faces a very strong challenge from state Sen. Brad Ashford, a Democrat.
In the other two Congressional races, 1st Congressional District incumbent, Republican Jeff Fortenberry is challenged by Democrat Dennis Crawford and 3rd District incumbent Adrian Smith is challenged by Democrat Mark Sullivan.
Open seats for Attorney General and state Auditor also will be decided today. Republican Doug Peterson and Democrat Janet Stewart are running for the seat being vacated by Attorney General Jon Bruning, who lost in the Republican primary for governor. Two state senators, Republican Charlie Janssen of Fremont and Democrat Amanda McGill of Lincoln, are running to replace Auditor Mike Foley, who is the Lt. Governor candidate on the Republican ticket.
Secretary of State John Gale, a Republican, is challenged by Libertarian Ben Backus today. State Treasurer Don Stenberg faces a challenge by Libertarian Michael Knebel.
Several state legislative races will be decided today as well as county board seats and seats on Natural Resources District.
A race for a seat on the University of Nebraska usually is mild stuff for an Election Day, but charges and counter-charges have given the District 5 race more than the normal spotlight. Incumbent Regent Rob Schafer has accused challenger Steve Glenn of running for his seat, because Schafer declined to pressure university officials to oust Husker football coach Bo Pelini when Pelini faced some controversies a year ago.
Seats also will be filled on the state board of education and community college boards.
Nebraska voters also will decide whether to increase the state minimum wage.
The Secretary of State’s office hopes turnout today will reach 50%. In the last non-presidential election, 43% of the state voters cast ballots. The Secretary of State’s office reports approximately 8,000 Nebraskans have registered to vote since the primary and early voting has been “robust”.
The Secretary of State reports statewide voter registration for the general election totals 1,159,085. Registration breakdown by political affiliation is: Republican Party, 559,494; Democratic Party, 357,899; nonpartisan, 235,984; and Libertarian 5,708.
Polls will remain open until 8pm in the central and eastern part of the state; until 7pm, Mountain Time.
Election results will be available at the Secretary of State website: sos.ne.gov.