Primary challenge for Fortenberry?

We area hearing word (that has been swirling around the capitol for a while now), that state Senator Chris Langemeier is seriously considering challenging Representative Jeff Fortenberry for the GOP nomination in Nebraska’s new 1st district.

We were, at first, perplexed as to why he would dive into this race. We have heard others suggest that Langemeier would definitely want to run for Congress if Fort ran for Senate (more likely under the “Nelson doesn’t run” scenario). But why challenge Fortenberry in a primary?

Well, we really don’t know about his positioning on the issues. We do know that Fortenberry was very recently listed as the 11th most independent member of the House — most likely to go against his party’s leadership. And then there was Fort’s compliments the other day for President Obama’s Mideast speech, where POTUS suggested that Israel move back to the 1967 borders. Fort didn’t’ comment on that particular issue — but his silence has made some question where he stands on it.

On the other hand, Fortenberry is generally considered a reliable Republican, has a conservative record, and is generally well liked by the Israeli lobby folks.

So, if Langemeier is really planning to run, maybe it isn’t just philosophical, but a political gamble.

Langemeier, from Schuyler (Colfax County), has (reportedly) been working to strengthen the (his) GOP base outside of Lincoln. And then there is the fact there will be plenty of GOP voters in the new 1st District — particularly in places like Bellevue and Columbus — who have never voted for Fortenberry.

Langemeier may figure that their votes are up for grabs, and this is is best chance to win a Congressional race before Fortenberry becomes completely entrenched.

And if Langemeier does get in, and could succeed at taking down Fort, would that encourage an electable Democrat to get into the 1st District race? The mind boggles!

At this point, we don’t know whether Langemeier is gung-ho, for sure, or not.

But a surprising run by him could shake the Nebraska GOP to it’s core for a few months — with a divisive GOP Senate primary building up as well. Campaigners at the ready!

We don’t suppose you commenters have any thoughts…


A response from Chris Langemeier to Leavenworth Street:

Thank you for the question and for your interest in my political future.  With every election cycle comes speculation about who may or may not have political ambitions.  It truly has been a pleasure to serve the citizens of Nebraska by representing the 23rd Legislative District, and I look forward to serving in the final year of my term.

I was grateful for my colleagues’ confidence in my abilities when they voted to make me the chairperson of the Natural Resources Committee, and this session, the chairperson of the Redistricting Committee.  Each role has given me the opportunity to work on some of the state’s toughest issues, and it has been a privilege to lead in those positions.

To serve in Congress would take a great deal of support from my family and the citizens of the 1st Congressional District.  I am humbled by the thought that anyone would want me to serve in Congress, representing this state that is so dear to me and my entire family.  Again, thank you for asking about my future, but I am focused and looking forward to finishing the term for which I have been elected.

Wait, was that a “no”?


  1. Em says:

    I’m anti-Fort after learning about some of his antics from former staff members. I think a lot of folks would support an R who isn’t Fort…

  2. Em says:

    Something more….like making a staff member change their name because he couldn’t have two staff members with the same name working for him.

  3. Platte says:

    Fort is legendary for his antics around the R circles. Sure, staffers sign up for horrible pay and long hours – but they don’t sign up for consistent phone calls after midnight, being yelled at if they don’t answer or return immediately, They don’t signup to be treated like slaves, or to be belittled. In “Fort World”, no one can ever do anything right and staff are nothing but expendable.

    These stories from former staffers are not the exception, but the rule that has been confirmed by multiple sources. I’ve voted for him in the past because we’ve never had anyone better, but I would seriously consider a primary challenger.

  4. Whiners says:

    Congressman Fortenberry is a demanding boss. But so is Governor Heineman, and so is any company in the private sector that has to be profitable. His office certainly isn’t the government-union-worker mindset but tales of after midnight calls are just rumors run wild. Rumors by ‘former staffers,’ maybe who didn’t expect to have to work so hard. And a good group of his staff has been with him since he first took office, and a number of them are hold-overs from Bereuter.

  5. Please says:

    So, we wouldn’t have to endure Fort’s long, monotone, boring and self indulgent speechs at NEGOP CC meetings anymore? OK…I’m on board!

  6. Lincoln says:

    Who cares how he treats his staff? Congressman Fortenberry is doing an outstanding job representing the first congressional district and the State of Nebraska as a whole. That is what he was elected to do. If the worst the Congressman’s opponents can say is that he treats his staff poorly then they are going to have little hope of defeating him.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Obama did not suggest that Israel move back to the 1967 borders. He suggested that those borders be used as the starting point for land swap negotiations as part of a broader peace deal. That is a very important distinction that has been largely (and intentionally) omitted in the coverage offered by a news network that shall remain nameless.

  8. MHuskerFn says:

    This is all rumors and insinuations without any basis in reality. Langemeier would have thought about it if Fortenberry had run for Senate, but without it – it is not even serious to think that he would have a chance against someone who gets elected with 71% of the vote.

  9. Nate says:

    Anon 3:49:

    Evidently the Senate Dems don’t see much of a distinction, either. According to, they’re expected to sign on to a resolution rebuking Obama’s statement on the 1967 borders. And Harry Reid and Steny Hoyer already publicly did so in addresses to AIPAC this week.

  10. BibiN says:

    So, about this 1967 Israel borders thing – in the context of Fortenberry’s statement – I read it and didn’t see him saying anything on it – one way or the other. His comments were analytical and focused on the Arab Spring and the opportunity that could be realized to assert American leadership and pass American values around the world. I commend Fortenberry for that. However, voting record wise – as much as I don’t like it – Fortenberry is in Israel’s pockets just like the vast majority of the rest of the politicians in the US.

  11. Anonymous says:

    So republicans, medicare bites you in the ass in New York. Soon to bite you in the ass nation wide and in Nebraska. Boo hoo for you. Think all the good Obama will do the nation with the House and the Senate on his side. With enough real democrats that he does not need wishy washy blue dogs. America might actually get some things done for a change.

  12. what? says:

    fort owns lincoln more than any other republican ever has – and that’s where the votes are. He also dominates the other big block of conservative votes in northeast NE. outside of walt and his merry band of sycophant lobbyists in the capitol building and maybe the town of schuyler, nobody knows who langemeier is and likely would not care to learn. this would be a suicide mission.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I wanted to see what it was like to be an ANONYMOUS poster so I could make ridiculous and unsubstantiated claims like others. Here goes:

    “Elvis is still alive living with aliens on a UFO powered by ‘carbon credits’ he exchanged from Al Gore”.

    “Medicare is going to be a wedge issue for DEMs and Obama to control both Houses of Congress”.

    “Obama really didn’t ‘mean’ it when he said Israel should go back to their 1967 borders even though he gave a major policy speech on it. He just waited until AFTER Netanyanhu’s visit to capitulate (I mean clarify)”.

    That was fun!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Idiiot at 5:48, I know that nuance is hard for you righties to understand, but read EXACTLY what Obama said. 1967 boundaries should be a starting point, not “go back to”. However I can understand your confusion if your only news source is Fox. Their raison d’etre is to confuse gullible people like yourself.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Lincoln – “who cares how he treats his staff??”…you have no problem with the hypocrisy of claiming to be a Christian and in the business of helping people, while treating the people whose lives you do actually have a material affect on in a condescending, belittling, often cruel manner. The rumors about what goes on in his office are not just rumors, but no one close to anyone who works there wants to risk their family or friend’s job by recounting actual details of what goes on.
    This is not a man who should be representing his fellow citizens; he represents the worst of what America has to offer.

  16. RWP says:

    (1) What Obama apparently meant by the ‘1967 borders’ are the borders after the 1949 armistice. I don’t think Bibi has any problem with the July 1967 borders, except they have already given the Sinai back to Egypt. People forget that.
    But who knows what Obama meant. He just signed the Westminster Abbey visitors’ book “24 May 2008”. He seems to have a certain difficulty with concepts of time.

    (2) Land swaps working off the 1949 borders would mean that lands that have been part of Israel since its foundation would be given to a Palestinian state. Israel will never agree to this. As Bibi pointed out, from 1949-1967, Israel was 9 miles wide.

  17. Bob Johnson says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Anonymous. In all my time on the hill, I’ve met many “demanding bosses;” that is not an appropriate description of this man. There is no excuse for his behavior and the way he treats his colleagues. Name another congressman who is on his sixth chief of staff in six years. Maybe he could spend a little more time working for the people if he spent a little less time replacing them.

  18. Mike C says:

    The way things work in the real world – if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. If anyone seems to have problems with Fortenberry’s personal style, they can find someone else to work for. Judging the performance of a Representative should be based on his votes, his principles, and the way people are served by his office. I’ve heard the rumors about bad treatment of staffers before, but I have never heard anyone complaining that he did not do a good job standing up for the right things – especially for the rights of the unborn. For my money – he is doing as fine a job as anyone who is stands for something.

  19. Don Q says:

    So – is this a NO from Langemeier? Couldn’t he have just said it straight forward? It has to be a NO, because otherwise, I totally agree with what? 5:39 that it would be a suicide mission to take on the Fort in a primary.

  20. Em says:

    People tend to underestimate the importance of good, hard-working staff in a Congressional office. Fort’s antics drive them away. This is not to imply that the current staffers are not as described above (I don’t know very many of them) but that they do not stick around long enough to gain the type of knowledge of Nebraska or Congressional issues they need. A Congressman is better served if they have staff who has a broad rage of knowledge of “how things work” in DC and Fort is losing out.

  21. Fortenberry / Langemeier Match-up says:

    From a voter turnout perspective, let’s look at the realm of possibility for this hypothetical match up.
    Let’s take all the “new” parts of CD1 and give Langemeier the number of votes equal to which was greater between Bromm / Ruehle’s support there in 2004 Primary, assuming Fortenberry won’t do worse in a primary than he did in his first and that Langemeier won’t do better than the best of Fort’s opponents in that precinct. Fortenberry would win 54% to 46%.

    Now since he’s getting some of CD1, let’s look at the vote history there. In Lee Terry’s 1998 Primary he received 39.6% of the vote and his 4 opponents received the rest – 60.4%. For the counties of Sarpy, Platte, and Polk (new counties or counties with new areas for CD2) let’s assign Fortenberry 39.6% of the vote and Langemeier 60.4% (as absurd as that is).

    You can use turnout percentages from either the 2010 primary(32.3%) or the 2008 primary (26.7%), and either way Fortenberry gets 52% to Langemeier’s 48%.

    Even in this statistically improbable scenario Fortenberry still wins comfortably –short of a major scandal (have you met him? that is not happening) or wedge issue (and him being an independent vote in Congress is not that) there does not exist a scenario whereby anybody beats Fortenberry – even in this primary in the new CD1.

    Hopefully- this will actually “humble” Langemeier so he’ll stop sending Sweeper self-congratulatory emails. Good heavens.

  22. Koxie Comie says:

    Those in government, the state party, and those who know Jeff Fortenberry realize that his arrogance is surpassed only by his unreasonable approach.

    The disrespect Fortenberry shows to his staff and others is real, and relevant to his relationship with constituents. He puts on a good mask, but is truthfully only concerned with himself. His appreciation for constituents is an artificial interest based on selfish desires. He frequently degrades others, but few have ever heard him utter an apology. He is not merely a ‘tough boss.’ Rather, he is sanctimonious man who feeds on the dignity of others. But I, like many others, keep voting for him. There’s no doubt Langemeier would be a great alternative. Moreover, he didn’t say no.

    All that said, it would be an uphill battle for Langemeier, who would face an incumbent Republican. But it wouldn’t be impossible. After all, with a little luck and a platform of apple pie and strong national defense, Fortenberry—a city councilman from Louisiana—took out Bromm, Ruehle, and a few others back in ’04. Even then, it was a low-point win. He only climbed up to 70% after being the only Republican around for a few years. Maybe the stars (or district lines), are lining up once again.

  23. Get out of the Rotunda says:

    Langemeier apparently has confused his delusional desire to serve in Congress with the notion that other people want him to serve in Congress. Last session I sat through several Natural Resource Committee hearings – and it wasn’t Langemeier running those, it was one Deb Fischer. Langemeier called on people to speak, but she asked the questions and drove the discussion. I don’t know who’s drilling down on the issues now that she’s not on the committee. Jane Kleeb maybe.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Fortenberry has ingratiated himself to the NDC by throwing moderate votes their way, thus the least likely to vote party line designation for him. This has served a purpose. If you will note, the Dems in this State save their venom for Terry and Smith. Rarely do they attack Fortenberry. He has cleverly positioned himself so he is the last person the Dems would try to knock out of office. They tolerate him because he appears the most moderate of the GOP congressional delegation. You would think his praise for Obama would lose him votes but this is a guy who landed on his feet the moment he came from Louisiana as a carpet bagger with no ties to the State and got elected to local office.

  25. Nebraska's Dentist says:

    The most egregious story I’ve heard to date is one where Congressman Fortenberry made a non-Catholic aide say the Rosary while on duty. His relationship with his fellow Nebraska congressional delegation member is not good–he’s pompous, arrogant, egotistical, and sanctimonious. He was the only Nebraska House member who didn’t get his requested Committee slot in 2011 because everyone knows what a douche bag the guy is. It’s a longshot for Langemeier, but once there is an airing of Fortenberry’s real record, and given that Fortenberry doesn’t know a good portion of his new district, there’s a slight chance.

  26. sam says:

    Fort has sewn up an impressive and unique voting bloc of cultural conservatives and Lincoln Independents/moderates that well reflects his eastern Nebraska constituents. Langemeier is a largely unknown, nondescript state senator from a sparsely populated area. Ask Matt Connealy how that formula worked for him.

  27. Eight is Enough says:

    @ SS
    Don’t know why you would write “…at first, perplexed as to why he (Chris Langemeier) would dive into this race…but why challenge Fortenberry in a primary.”

    Why not? This is America, Street Sweeper. It’s called “The Democratic Process.” Democracy!

    Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who is from Louisiana, does not own the 1st Congressional District seat.

    Hello….the U.S.A. fought a revolutionary war to make certain that Kings (of Carpetbagging) do not believe themselves to be entitled to elevated offices in egalitarian America.

    Although I am ideologically on the opposite end of the spectrum from Senator Langemeier, I applaud and encourage him to run against “The Fort.” Go Chris Go.

    Any bona fide Cornhusker is more deserving of the seat than a politically ambitious Cajun-faux-Kennedy-wanna-be – who was working in politics in Washington, D.C. – before he “discovered” Lincoln, Nebraska and just “happened” to move here to “take” a job with the always-eager-to-please-the-national-GOP-corporate-titan: Mr. CEO of Sandhills Publishing.

    “The Fort” is the quintessential definition of a carpetbagger. He came to Cornhusker country for one reason – and one reason only – to get elected to Congress which he couldn’t do from Baton Rouge because there were too many Ragin Cajuns ahead of him.

    The days of “owning” a seat for three decades as the great Rep. Doug Bereuter did are over. Fini. Done.

    Senator Langemeier: I think I can speak for thousands of actual Nebraskans when I say: don’t worry about “The Fort” running for the Senate. Not gonna happen. Wouldn’t be prudent.

    Rep. Fortenberry’s – whose FEC reports shows a back & forth between a Cajun “image” consultant named Smith from Louisiana – Cornhusker Congressional “coup” still stuns him so he won’t dare run for higher office although he’s no doubt frothing at the bit to drive A.G. Bruning out of the race.

    Trust me, “The Fort” still exhibits characteristics of “imposter syndrome”; he knows he’s one of the luckiest pols in America that Nebraskans didn’t send him packing in 2004 and elect a Nebraska – of either party – who had earned the seat.

    Please. Give “The Fort” a challenge. Four “Terms of Nowhere-Near-Endearment” are enough. Read these postings. He is not well-liked.

  28. translation says:

    Sen. Langemeier: “Eight is Enough” is Ivy Harper. Her rambling incoherence and obsessive fixation tendencies give it away. She wants you to run and win because she thinks you would be easier to defeat in a general election than the incumbent (“The Fort”), who shellacked her by more than 40 percentage points in the last election.

  29. Anonymous says:

    “The great Doug Bereuter”? There’s an oxymoron. Otherwise, agree with the above long and rattling post that Fort planted himself in the Lincoln conservative Catholic Diocese after seeking out a district where he might win, even as a carpetbagger. Neither he nor his wife had any ties to Nebraska yet here they landed and a few short years later he claimed a congressional seat, just like that. Not so hard if you have been planning all your life to run for high elective office. He worked his plan and still is and as long as 1st Dist voters want to believe his phony schtick, he will be their rep.

  30. Check it says:

    Hey Eight is Enough – the Louisiana Image Consultant Smith is his MOTHER. Joy Smith. You ass clown.

    Hey Anon 9:03 – Anti-Catholic much? Jeff and Celeste moved here because he got a job at Sandhills Publishing. They had five kids here- and they raise them HERE IN LINCOLN NEBRASKA, not in Virginia or DC. All of this nonsense about carpet-bagging and life-long planning for Congress is making my head hurt- a young couple moved here for an economic opportunity and stayed because they had a good community to raise a family and eventually Jeff got involved in public service. How do you spin that into some massive conspiracy theory? Get a job.

  31. Booooring says:

    @ Eight is Enough (Ivy Harper) -seriously lady – I am worried about you – there is help out there (counseling, medication) – take advantage of it. While I find your “conspiracy theories” slightly amusing – especially the ones you are trying to peddle against the University of Nebraska and old man Harvey – your ramblings about carpet-begging and “bona fide Cornhuskerism” are utterly boring and retarded – and what’s actually relevant – is that campaign message has been tried and failed miserably time after time. Oh, yeah – the Louisiana image consultant conspiracy theory topped them all – his mother (uuuu, how sinister).

    Anon 9:03 – read up on history of America dude – and in particular the history of Nebraska’s First Congressional District and see how many of the fine people who have represented it have actually been born in Nebraska – including perhaps the greatest one of them William Jennings Bryan. And I don’t see the argument – accidents of birth determine your future and destiny. This is America, Jack – one can make something out of themselves wherever they choose – in fact Fortenberry’s story is a great testament to that – as well as to the type of community that Lincoln is – where a young couple from wherever can set roots, have a beautiful family, and make a tremendous contribution to their environment.

    While it is not true that Jeff had “planned” all his life to be a Congressman from Nebraska – wow, if he had and actually made it happen without selling his soul, standing firmly for what is right (especially the lives of unborn babies), and making it happen – that’s the type of leaders that I want to have – visionaries standing for the right issues. (As opposed to some others who have the ambition to “some day be somebody” but stand for whatever is convenient at the particular moment that would get them higher).

  32. Anonymous says:

    As long as Langemier gets Fort to talk he can win. Fort while intelligent is extremely boring. Oh and Fort is notorious for being unable to make a decision. Fort also has to answer to his backing of DC abortions being publicly funded. I’m sure there will be plenty of inside dirt put out of the Fort house for the citizens of CD1 to review.

    Now down the road it will be very interesting with the depopulation of Nebraska continuing, the 1st will be gobbled up by the 3rd and 2nd in the next census. See ~1.7M divided by two is….. ~850K, and all of Douglas and Sarpy is ~700K. The 2nd will need to pick up 150K, so all of Sarpy, Washington, Cass, and Dodge maybe. Then old Lincoln will be in the “Greater Nebraska’s” new 1st CD. Hmm won’t work to well for whomever is in office, but Langemier might just beat Adrian in the 3rd when the merger takes place.

    It will be intersting either way.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Fortenberry voted wrong on an abortion bill? Why hasn’t this been all over the news? His base would surely not look the other way on it. They didn’t with Ben and Fortenberry ought to be held to the same standard.

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