Three candidates running in Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District’s first contested Republican primary since 2014

Incumbent Jeff Fortenberry, Mike Flood, and John Weaver are running in the Republican primary for Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District on May 10, 2022. This is the first contested Republican primary in the district since 2014 and the first for Fortenberry after a 2021 federal indictment stemming from a 2016 campaign finance investigation.

A federal grand jury indicted Fortenberry on Oct. 19, 2021, after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California alleged he lied to investigators during a 2016 investigation concerning illegal contributions made to his re-election campaign. Fortenberry said he was unaware that said contributions had been made and that he had cooperated with investigators. He pleaded not guilty on Oct. 20, 2021. The trial is slated to begin in March.

Media attention in the race has focused on Fortenberry and Flood, with the Lincoln Journal Star‘s Don Walton describing the matchup as “the first bigtime GOP contest in the eastern Nebraska congressional district since … 2004.”

Fortenberry was first elected to the 1st District in 2004 and, before that, was a member of the Lincoln City Council from 1997 to 2001. He has campaigned on his legislative history, saying he had and would continue to deliver results “to strengthen our national security, stop devastating healthcare costs, and build a new vision for jobs, our environment, and our communities.”

Flood is a member of the Nebraska State Senate. He first served in the chamber from 2005 to 2013 and was elected again in 2020. He was speaker of the Senate from 2007 to 2013. Flood highlighted Fortenberry’s indictment in his campaign announcement, saying, “If our nominee has to focus on beating felony criminal charges instead of defeating a serious Democrat opponent, we risk defeat in November.”

Fortenberry received an endorsement from former Omaha Mayor and 2nd District Representative Hal Daub (R). Flood received endorsements from current and former Govs. Pete Ricketts (R) and Dave Heineman (R).

The 1st District is located in eastern Nebraska surrounding the outskirts of Omaha and including population centers like Lincoln, Norfolk, and Columbus. While district lines have changed, Republicans have represented the 1st District continuously since 1967. From 2006 to 2020, Fortenberry won re-election to the district by an average margin of victory of 32 percentage points each cycle.

The filing deadline for this race was Feb. 15, meaning the final candidate list may change as election officials validate ballot requirements.