Two state senators changed their minds and a bid to return Nebraska to a winner-take-all presidential elector state fails on final reading by one vote.
Only once, in 2008, did awarding presidential electors by Congressional district make a difference in Nebraska. That year, the campaign of then-Sen. Barack Obama saw an opportunity in a state Obama had no chance of winning. Obama plucked an electoral vote from the Second Congressional District of Omaha in a state he lost to Republican Mitt Romney.
Sen. Tanya Cook of Omaha tells colleagues during floor debate reverting back to winner-take-all would go the wrong direction.
“The fact that the voices of Nebraskans in that area were reflected in that lone electoral vote should not be used to squelch the choices of voters,” Cook says.
Only Nebraska and Maine award presidential electors proportionally. All other states award all their electors to the presidential candidate who wins the state.
LB 10 sought to reverse the decision made in 1991 for Nebraska to award presidential electors by Congressional district. Republicans have moved with a sense of urgency since Obama won that lone electoral vote in 2008. Democrats have fought equally hard to retain the status quo.
Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins says arguments made 25 years ago appealed to him, because there was a sense then that other states would follow suit, but none have.
“Colleagues, everybody loves what we’re doing, but nobody else wants to do it. Kind of funny smelling cheese isn’t it?” Bloomfield says with a chuckle.
The bill overcame a filibuster during the second round of debate with a vote to spare. Two senators who voted to end the filibuster then, Sen. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue and Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha, changed their minds on final round and voted against ending the filibuster. Garrett had voted both to end the filibuster and in favor of the bill on second round. Krist had voted to end the filibuster, but voted against the bill.
Filibusters are rare during final round consideration when they are limited to two hours of debate. The Unicameral voted 32-to-17 to end the filibuster, one vote shy of the 33 needed.
Nebraska is allocated five presidential electoral votes; two for its two United States senators and three for each Congressional district.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]