Before the current Trump presidency, Representative Jeff Fortenberry enjoyed a reputation as both a nice guy and a moderate. The local press treated him with kid gloves and the voters didn’t pay much attention to him. The reality is that Fortenberry compiled an extreme voting record before 2017 but it was barely noticed. Fortenberry’s extremism wasn’t really noticed by most voters until after January 20, 2017.
After Trump was inaugurated, Fortenberry began to face real scrutiny from the voters for the first time in his career after years of flying below the radar screen. Protesters gathered at his office and place of business. In the 2018 cycle, Jessica McClure carried Lancaster County and picked up 40% of the vote even though she was out spent by a margin of $645,000 to $77,000. It was the best showing for a Democratic nominee in CD01 since 2006.
In 2017, voters began to notice that Fortenberry has a pattern of talking moderate in Nebraska and voting with his party bosses and the radical right when he is in Washington. The long time CD01’s long time strategy can be found in these excerpts from the vapid June 5 Fort report: “The cruel, senseless death of George Floyd has caused a great deal of national trauma…Let’s be clear about several truths: Racism is wrong; Police brutality is wrong; Violence in the name of protests is also wrong…As we move forward in the coming weeks and months to address these issues, we should work to achieve a delicate balance between safety and compassion in communities…Congress may choose to legislatively address issues raised by recent events, but the ultimate solution lies in creating nurturing, vibrant, safe communities rooted in human dignity, in which each person matters. This will help to foster authentic relationships between citizens and law enforcement.”
Now let’s unpack this statement and look at Fortenberry’s record on key issues that impact racial equality — and equality in general. You can see from the Fort report that the CD01 House member does a good job of expressing empathy for George Floyd but he promises to do nothing about it.
Fortenberry’s record in Congress indicates that he is indifferent to the plight of African-Americans and working families in general. Instead, Fortenberry has adhered to the belief that rich people don’t have enough money and that the poor and middle class have it too easy.
Perhaps Fortenberry’s most important vote on these issues is when he voted against the Voting Rights Advancement Act in December 2019. This bill would reverse the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to gut the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Since the Shelby County decision in 2013, 14 states have passed hyper-partisan voter I.D. or suppression laws. (That’s in addition to the 20 states that already had these kinds of regressive laws.) In this year’s election, the GOP plans to rely upon mass voter suppression in an attempt to steal the election and thwart the clear will of the voters who want to oust the GOP.
Fortenberry doesn’t only oppose voting rights for African-Americans, he has also consistently voted against giving them a pay raise. In 2007, Fortenberry voted against raising the minimum wage from $5.25 per hour to $7.25 per hour even though it passed the House by an overwhelming 3–1 margin and was signed into law by George W. Bush.
In 2019, Fortenberry didn’t even bother to show up to vote when the House voted to increase the federal minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. The Louisiana native was too cowardly to go on the record in opposition (again) to an increase in the minimum wage. If Fortenberry had his way, the federal minimum wage would still be a miserly $5.25 per hour.
Fortenberry’s record on health care is every bit as bad as his record on voting rights and the minimum wage. The CD01 Congressman has voted over 60 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have taken away insurance from 20 million Americans and eliminated pre-existing condition protections. If Fortenberry had gotten his way on health care, it would have had a devastating effect on African-Americans.
State Senator Kate Bolz will support voting rights, an increase in the minimum wage and will expand and protect our health care security. Kate is a lifelong resident of CD01 and will put her constituents first — not the well heeled special interests.
The 2018 election results are evidence of Fortenberry fatigue in CD01. The long time Congressman simply obeys Trump and his party bosses in D.C. I expect 2020 to be a good cycle for the Democrats. Trump is an historically unpopular president and the failed policies of Trump and Fortenberry have devastated the people of Nebraska CD01. We simply can no longer afford Fortenberry.
This is our time! Let’s repeal and replace Fortenberry! Let’s send Kate Bolz to Washington!