Omaha, NE—Intentionally or not—most likely not—Nebraska Democrats are taking the advice of one of their biggest critics.
For years former Gov. Dave Heineman made the case that among the GOP’s best election weapons were hard-fought May primaries with the battle-tested winner, far more often than not, going on to whip their Democratic opponent in the fall.
So this week-end when former Congressman Brad Ashford announced he was running for Congress, a Democratic primary fight was put in motion.
At the very least it’s a two-person primary and maybe more.
With Ashford eager to “go back to work for you” he joins Kara Eastman in the race. Eastman—a member of the Metropolitan Community College board who is little known to most voters—jumped in last month and by most accounts starts well behind Ashford.
But in an earlier interview with News Channel Nebraska, Eastman wasn’t shying away from a then-possible Ashford candidacy.
NCN: The fact that you are getting in shows you feel you are more equipped for Congress than others that might run. What makes you more equipped than former Congressman Ashford?
Eastman: I think I am the best candidate for this position because of my experience and because of my passion and because of my desire to help people and work with people, so I think somebody like me—somebody who has been working in and with the community for years really understands what we need to win a race like this.
NCN: You don’t think Ashford has done that?
Eastman: I think we’ve had other candidates who have stepped forward before and I think that it’s time for something new.
In his announcement Ashford touted three accomplishments from his two-year, one term, tour of duty on Capitol Hill before his 2016 Election Day loss to Republican Don Bacon.
Ashford citing his bipartisan statesmanship—4th best when he was there— in bringing a “new, internationally vital, National Ebola Training and Education Center to Omaha…a new VA facility to Omaha…funding for repairs for the runway at Offutt Air Force Base.”
One potential sticking point between Eastman and Ashford is the Keystone XL pipeline. After backing the pipeline for several years, Ashford recently turned against it. Eastman told NCN last month that working in the environmental health field for the last 11 years she has always opposed the pipeline worried about “things that are going to continue to contaminate our environment.”
At least one other name mentioned in the Democratic race for Congress is former State Sen. Heath Mello, who is just coming off an unsuccessful run for the Omaha mayor’s office. Mello is expected to be in or out of the Congressional race by Labor Day.