NE-02 Leaning Republican
It is widely known that General Don Bacon was the only Republican challenger to defeat an incumbent Democrat in a House race last year. This was no small feat.
Now, despite organized “resistance” movements on the left claiming NE-02 will be moving into the blue column in 2018, Roll Call has released their Top 10 Most Vulnerable list… and Rep Bacon isn’t on it. In fact, Roll Call and other national publications now have this district as “leaning Republican.”
The 2016 race, characterized as a toss-up by most pollsters, was clear evidence of how Brad Ashford’s constituents felt about him. If that lesson wasn’t clear enough after the loss, it should be now based on Ashford’s dismal fundraising efforts – when your fundraising is compared to Omaha’s panhandling, you know there’s a problem.
Now, voters are starting to get a realistic view of the 2018 race, and it does not bode well for Democrats: Ashford’s constant pandering and flip-flopping on positions, his inability to raise money, and the result of the Mayor’s race earlier this year mean the Democrat Establishment’s favored candidate is going to have a rough time. As a former member of Congress, Brad should have easily been able to reach $225k in Q3, and coming in at a paltry $125k says more about his support and chances than he likely realizes.
Other issues from Ashford’s past are in the news again lately… The streetcar project that forced out Ashford now seems to be gaining momentum; Brad’s past support of cutting corporate tax rates and eliminating the estate tax are a stark contrast to the views of many Democrats; and for his 68th birthday (Nov 10), his devoted wife Ann has been running a social media blitz in an apparent attempt to “humanize” him to the district and ask for money.
One possible bright spot for the Democrats this cycle is Kara Eastman, who has done relatively well with grassroots support thus far. While the national party has seemingly abandoned her in favor of Ashford (Bernie all over again), she claims to have the backing of local Democrats, unions, and other groups that could propel her past Ashford’s PAC money. It remains unknown whether she is truly ready for a Congressional campaign, but by remaining true to her principles she offers Democrats something Ashford seemingly does not.
Regardless, Rep Bacon’s “energizer bunny” style of governing is earning him strong support in the community, especially among veterans and college-aged political newcomers. With one year to go until election day, it is becoming abundantly clear why national publications are removing Bacon and NE02 from their list of vulnerable incumbents.