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Nebraska Congressional District One.

Kate Bolz Has Thrown Her Hat In The Ring!

Nebraska CD01 has long been a Republican stronghold. No Democrat has held the seat since Claire Callan was elected as part of the Johnson landslide of 1964. Callan wasn’t re-elected in 1966 when the Republicans made a big comeback due to a backlash over civil rights, inflation and Vietnam. To the best of my knowledge, the only real close race in CD01 was in 1974 when Hess Dyess nearly knocked off GOP incumbent Charles Thone.

The numbers in CD01 are daunting for any Democratic challenger. Approximately 50% of the registered voters are Republican, 33% are Democrats and the rest are non-partisan. Approximately half of the voters reside in Lancaster County — which is purple and trending blue. The rest of the congressional district is deep red.

Long time GOP incumbent Jeff Fortenberry has parlayed that partisan advantage into securing a firm grip on the seat since he was first elected in 2004. However, that firm grip has caused Fortenberry to become arrogant and out of touch with the struggles of his constituents. When Jeff Fortenberry voted in 2013 to shut down the government in a failed attempt to repeal Obama Care without a replacement plan, he said: “I’m thankful that as a federal worker I have had access to good health care and a subsidy, and I pay a certain amount for it. Those have been very beneficial to me. I recognize that not everybody has that out there.”

The eight term GOP incumbent recently termed his constituents’ struggles to be “borrring.” Moreover, Fortenberry has gone so far as to sic the Lincoln Police Department on his opponents and tried to get one of his critics fired from his job at UNL. Fortenberry’s lengthy service in Washington has caused him to become a thin skinned bully.

Since the former TV reality star has occupied the Oval Office, the voters in Nebraska CD01 began to notice that Fortenberry has an extreme voting record. Fortenberry’s 2017 vote to take away insurance from 23 million Americans and gut pre-existing condition protections was a wake up call for many voters. The 2018 election results indicated that there is Fortenberry fatigue in CD01. Jessica McClure carried Lancaster County and received 40% of the vote. It was the best showing for a Democratic CD01 nominee since Maxine Moul in 2006.

State Senator Kate Bolz plans to capitalize on this dissatisfaction with Fortenberry in her recently announced bid for Congress. Bolz is the most formidable challenger that Fortenberry has faced since the 2006 cycle when he defeated former lieutenant governor Maxine Moul. In a recent interview with the Huffington Post, Bolz said: “There are lots of reasons that we really believe we can run and win…Nebraskans are independent minded.” In her speech at her well attended campaign kickoff event, Bolz emphasized health care and the disastrous Fortenberry/Trump trade war which has cost Nebraska farmers $2 billion. The LD29 State Senator correctly labeled her opponent: “the invisible man” due to his status as a back bencher who has no real accomplishments.

Let me tell why you I’m for Kate. First, let me give you a little background. My brother is intellectually disabled and has lived at the Beatrice State Development Center since 1975. In 2017, the Ricketts Administration proposed budget cuts to that facility. Kate called me herself and gave me a heads up about this proposal and the hearing at the Appropriations Committee on the matter. Several guardians for residents at BSDC and I testified against Ricketts’ proposed cuts. Senator Bolz (and Senator Anna Wishart) came through and stopped these cuts.

Kate is opposed in the Democratic primary by Barbara Ramsey. I’ve met Babs and I’m very impressed with her. She has done a very good job of presenting her platform and articulating what she stands for. A positive primary between Kate and Babs will only strengthen the eventual nominee.

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. His vengeful response to his opposition in the 2018 cycle indicates he is genuinely afraid of losing his seat. I expect 2020 to be a good cycle for the Democrats. Trump is an historically unpopular president and the Trump/Fortenberry trade war has devastated Nebraska farmers. This is our time! Let’s repeal and replace Fortenberry! Let’s send Kate Bolz to Washington!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

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