With 76% of the vote, state Sen. Mike Flood defeated four other candidates on May 10 to win the Republican nomination for Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District. This was the first contested Republican primary in the district since 2014 and the first after former incumbent Jeff Fortenberry (R) was found guilty in a federal campaign finance investigation.
When Flood entered the race, Fortenberry was the district’s incumbent seeking re-election to a ninth term while awaiting trial for the federal charges. On March 24, Fortenberry was found guilty and on March 31, he resigned from Congress. Since the deadline had passed to withdraw from the primary, Fortenberry’s name remained on the ballot, and he placed second with 8% of the vote.
Before Fortenberry’s conviction, the Lincoln Journal Star‘s Don Walton described the primary as “the first bigtime GOP primary battle in the eastern Nebraska district since … 2004.”
During the primary, Flood highlighted the charges against Fortenberry, saying, “If our nominee has to focus on beating felony criminal charges instead of defeating a serious Democrat opponent, we risk defeat in November.” Flood also promoted endorsements he received from Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) and former Gov. Dave Heineman (R).
Fortenberry’s resignation created a vacancy that will be filled in a June 28 special election to serve out the remainder of the term. Flood is the Republican nominee in that race against state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks (D). The two will then face off again in the November 8 general election for a full term.
Race forecasters rate the general election contest in the Lincoln-area district as Solid or Safe Republican.