It’s been 20 years since a Democrat has represented Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.
It appears that Democratic state Senator Brad Ashford toppled incumbent Republican Lee Terry in a close race for that district that encompasses the Omaha metro area. The final tallies of Douglas and Sarpy counties have lasted into Wednesday, with Terry getting testy over the delay.
Congressman Terry told his supporters late Tuesday that his attorneys were looking into the vote count and added that “DOJ and FBI” oversight might have slowed things down. At one point Terry said the voting had stopped.
Election Commissioner Dave Phipps said that rumor was false.
“For this amount of ballots, it just takes that much time to go through the machines and we do this every single election so I’m not sure why it’s anything confusing this time,” rebutted Phipps.
Terry has called a news conference in Omaha today.
At about 2:00 a.m. Wednesday, Ashford thanked the two dozen volunteers who were still waiting at a hotel ballroom–and sent them home with a hopeful message:
“We’re winning this race, we’re winning this race,” Ashford said. “We have an over 3,000-vote lead now. We do not believe that Mr. Terry can win this race.”
At that time, there were about 15,000 votes yet to count, but Ashford’s strategy banked on early voting, doubling the number of ballots requested for Terry. Democrats also boasted a widespread ground effort in the past few weeks, claiming to have made nearly 245,000 calls to constituents and visiting tens of thousands of Omaha residents at home.
Terry edged out a Tea Party challenger, then leveled harsh criticism at Ashford, whom he tried to connect to a controversial state law allowing early inmate release for good behavior.
Ashford, in turn, tied himself to a referendum to raise the state’s minimum wage, Initiative 425, which passed overwhelmingly and may have provided the momentum needed to get more Democrats to the polls.
Ashford would be the only Democrat serving in Nebraska’s congressional delegation.