Omaha. NE.—The feud between two top Democratic officials, first reported by News Channel Nebraska, is now bleeding into an early voting controversy with threats of potentially dire Election Day consequences for Democrats up and down the ballot, most significantly Congressional hopeful Kara Eastman.
In an email to her party’s candidates in Douglas County, Democratic County Chair Crystal Rhoades accuses Democratic State Chair Jane Kleeb of “jeopardizing every single candidate in this county.”
The email, obtained by News Channel Nebraska, refers specifically to a highly sophisticated national Democratic Party voter database used for among other things critical get-out the vote and early voting efforts. Rhoades says Kleeb has stepped in and is “refusing to release” key information—such as voter addresses and phone numbers— to the Douglas County Democratic Party and Eastman’s campaign. Eastman’s campaign has not been available for comment.
This bubbles up at a time when Douglas County Republicans have gained the upper-hand in the vitally important vote-by-mail battle—both parties want to bank as many pre-Election Day votes as possible in order to avoid last minute decisions by voters who opt to stay home.
After falling well behind Democrats in both 2014 and 2016, the Omaha GOP goes into the final weeks of the 2018 campaign with a substantial early voting lead.
As of Thursday 16,642 registered Republican voters in the county had requested mail-in ballots compared to 12,328 Democrats and 3,388 independents. That’s a 14-point (57-43) GOP lead over the Democrats, who had enjoyed a 34-point (67-33) advantage in 2014 and a 14-point (57-43) margin in 2016.
Kleeb tells News Channel Nebraska she is not going to “go back and forth” in the news media with Rhoades. This, in effect, no comment follows News Channel Nebraska’s exclusive report which found Rhoades and Kleeb in a fight with charges and counter-charges of racism.
But Kleeb has fired off her own email telling party members Rhoades’ email is lined with “incorrect information.” Kleeb says no candidate (including Eastman) is blocked from the database, which for the first time ever is available for free. “I am doing my best to make sure folks know what the (Nebraska Democratic Party) is doing right now to help all Dems win.”
Rhoades’ email warns that if the voter information is not released by Kleeb “we have no hope of catching up to the Republicans on Vote By Mail and we have no chance of an effective GOTV (Get Out The Vote).”
Finally Rhoades ends her email with this PS: “I fully expect (Kleeb) will deny this. I’m happy to forward any and all email exchanges supporting these claims.”