Tagnebraska

Stories about Nebraska

Nebraska enacts congressional and state legislative district maps

On Sept. 30, the Nebraska State Legislature approved new congressional and state legislative district maps. Shortly after the legislature’s approval, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) signed the maps into law.

The congressional map was approved by a 35-11 vote, with all dissenting votes coming from Democratic members of the legislature. All Republicans in attendance voted in favor of the map, along with four Democrats. 

The state legislative map was approved by a 37-7 vote. Twenty-nine Republicans and eight Democrats voted in favor of the map. Five Democrats and two Republicans voted against it.

Following the approval of the maps, Sen. Justin Wayne (D) said: “It was a very frustrating process, but we got to a good result.” Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (R), chairwoman of the redistricting committee, expressed approval of the maps and said she was “constantly reminded how capable Sen. Wayne is” during the negotiations.

These maps will take effect for the 2022 congressional and state legislative elections.



Jean Stothert wins re-election to third term as mayor of Omaha, Nebraska

Incumbent Jean Stothert (R) defeated RJ Neary (D) in the nonpartisan mayoral general election in Omaha, Nebraska, Tuesday, winning election to a third term.

Unofficial results showed Stothert received 67% of the vote to Neary’s 33% at the time of his concession.

Stothert described her campaign for re-election as an effort to continue projects that had begun during her tenure such as the development of the city’s waterfront spaces along the Missouri River. Stothert also emphasized her expansion of the city’s police force and the passage of a bond package to fund road repairs.

Neary, a commercial real estate developer and former member of the Omaha Planning Board, called Omaha “a great city but one that struggles with racial inequities,” adding that he “envisions a more equal Omaha, with more and better affordable housing, and a more sustainable transportation system.”

Stothert is one of 25 Republican mayors among the country’s 100 largest cities. She was first elected in 2013 after defeating incumbent Jim Suttle (D) 57% to 43% and won re-election to a second term in 2017 with 53% of the vote.

If Stothert serves a full four-year term as mayor, she will become the longest-serving mayor in Omaha’s history. No mayor has served for more than nine consecutive years. Stothert has already served eight years as mayor.

To learn more about the mayoral election in Omaha, click here: Mayoral election in Omaha, Nebraska (2021)



Incumbents sweep school board election in Lincoln, Nebraska

Four incumbents were re-elected to the Lincoln Public Schools school board in Nebraska in the nonpartisan general election on May 4. Kathy Danek (District 1), Barbara Beier (District 3), Lanny Boswell (District 5), and Don Mayhew (District 7) each won new four-year terms on the seven-member board.

Baier and Boswell ran unopposed in the general election as well as in the primary that was held on April 6. Danek advanced from the primary alongside opponent Christina Campbell and won the general election with 56% of the vote. Mayhew advanced from the primary alongside opponent Michael Patestas and won the general election with 60% of the vote.

The city of Lincoln, Nebraska, also held nonpartisan general elections on May 4 for three at-large seats on the city council and two at-large seats on the Lincoln Airport Authority. Six candidates, including three incumbents, competed for the city council seats. All six advanced from the April 6 primary after defeating four other candidates. Incumbents Sändra Washington and Bennie Shobe were re-elected to the city council in the general election, and newcomer Tom Beckius won his first term on the board. John Olsson and Nicki Behmer won the airport authority seats.

Lincoln Public Schools served 41,737 students during the 2017-2018 school year. Lincoln is the second-largest city in Nebraska and the 71st-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Additional reading: 



Omaha, Nebraska, voters to decide mayoral, city council races on May 11

The nonpartisan general election for Omaha, Neb., will be held on May 11. The top-two primary was held on April 6. Candidates will be competing for mayor and seven city council seats. On election day, the polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In the mayoral race, incumbent Jean Stothert and RJ Neary are facing off in the general election. Stothert is one of 26 Republican mayors across the country’s 100 largest cities. She was first elected in 2013, following Democratic control of the mayorship since 2001, and won re-election in 2017. She is Omaha’s longest-serving Republican mayor since 1906.

Neary is the chairman of Investors Realty, a commercial real estate investment company, and the former chairman of the Omaha Planning Board. During the primary, he received endorsements from the city’s three most recent Democratic mayors: Mike Fahey, Jim Suttle, and Mike Boyle.

Seven city council seats will also be on the May 11 ballot. District 3 incumbent Chris Jerram was the only city council member to not file for re-election in 2021. Five incumbents advanced past the primary election and will appear on the general election ballot. District 5 incumbent Colleen Brennan lost her re-election bid after placing fifth in the primary election.

*District 1: Incumbent Pete Festersen and Sarah Johnson are facing off in the general election. Festersen has served on the city council since 2009.

*District 2: Incumbent Ben Gray and Juanita Johnson will face off in the general election. Gray has represented District 2 since 2009.

*District 3: Danny Begley and Cammy Watkins are competing for this open seat. Incumbent Jerram announced in August 2020 that he would not seek a fourth term in 2021. He has represented District 3 on the city council since 2009.

*District 4: Incumbent Vinny Palermo and Rebecca Barrientos-Patlan will face off in the general election. Palermo has served on the city council since 2017.

*District 5: Patrick Leahy and Don Rowe will face off in the general election. Incumbent Colleen Brennan was appointed to the seat in December 2020. She placed fifth in the April 6 primary election and did not advance to the general election.

*District 6: Incumbent Brinker Harding and Naomi Hattaway will face off in the general election. Harding has represented District 6 on the city council since 2017.

*District 7: Incumbent Aimee Melton and Sara Kohen are facing off in the general election. Melton has served on the city council since 2013.

Omaha is the 42nd largest city by population in the United States. In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections in 22 counties and 71 cities, including 43 mayoral elections.

Additional Reading:



Lincoln voters to decide city council, school board, and Airport Authority races on May 4

The nonpartisan general election for Lincoln, Neb., will be held on May 4. The primary was held on April 6. Three city council seats, two seats on the Lincoln Airport Authority, and four seats on the Lincoln Public Schools school board will be on the ballot.

Incumbent Roy Christensen, incumbent Bennie Shobe, incumbent Sändra Washington, Tom Beckius, Eric Burling, and Mary Hilton are running in the city council election. The three candidates who receive the most votes will each earn a four-year term.

Although city council elections in Lincoln are officially nonpartisan, candidates can file with a party affiliation. Incumbent Christensen has served on the city council since 2013 and identifies with the Republican Party. In addition to Christensen, Burling and Hilton identify with the Republican Party. Incumbent Shobe was elected in 2017 and identifies as a member of the Democratic Party. Incumbent Washington was appointed to the council in 2019 and identifies with the Democratic Party. In addition to Shobe and Washington, Beckius identifies with the Democratic Party.

Nicki Behmer, Jason Krueger, John Olsson, and Tracy Refior are running in the Lincoln Airport Authority election. The two candidates who receive the most votes will each earn a six-year term.

District 3 incumbent Barbara Baier and District 5 incumbent Lanny Boswell are unopposed in their bids for re-election on the school board. Incumbent Kathy Danek and Christina Campbell will face off in the District 1 general election. In the District 7 election, incumbent Don Mayhew will face off against Michael Patestas. The winners of the four races will earn four-year terms.

Lincoln is the 71st largest city by population in the United States. In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections in 22 counties and 71 cities, including 43 mayoral elections.



Stothert and Neary advance to the general election for mayor of Omaha

Incumbent Jean Stothert (R) and RJ Neary (D) advanced from the top-two mayoral primary in Omaha, Nebraska, held on April 6, 2021. The two will advance to the general election on May 8, 2021.

According to unofficial results, Stothert received 57% of the vote followed by Neary with 16%. The remaining candidates, Jasmine Harris (D), Kimara Snipes (D), Mark Gudgel (D), and Jerome Wallace Sr. (D) received 14%, 9%, 5%, and 0.1% of the vote, respectively.

Stothert is one of 26 Republican mayors across the country’s 100 largest cities. She was first elected in 2013, following Democratic control of the mayorship since 2001, and won re-election in 2017. She is Omaha’s longest-serving Republican mayor since 1906. According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, Stothert had $380,301 on hand.

Neary is the chairman of Investors Realty, a commercial real estate investment company, and the former chairman of the Omaha Planning Board. During the primary, he received endorsements from the city’s three most recent Democratic mayors: Mike Fahey, Jim Suttle, and Mike Boyle. According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, Neary had $73,960 on hand.

Omaha is located primarily in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. During the 2020 presidential election, the district voted for Joe Biden (D) after voting for Republicans Mitt Romney (R) and Donald Trump (R) in 2012 and 2016, respectively. Over that time, the presidential election margin in the district shifted 13.7 percentage points from Republicans to Democrats. Romney won by 7.1 points, which decreased to a 2.2-point victory for Trump. Biden won by 6.6 percentage points in 2020.

For more information on the primary and the candidates, click here:

Mayoral election in Omaha, Nebraska (2021)



Nebraska Department of Insurance Director Bruce Ramge retires

Bruce Ramge, the longest-serving Nebraska Department of Insurance director, retired on April 9. Former Gov. Dave Heineman (R) appointed him director in November 2010.

According to a press release from Gov. Pete Ricketts’ (R) office, Ramge served the department for 36 years, first joining in 1984 as an employee of the Market Conduct Division. He was then promoted to chief of market regulation in 1999, which was later followed by his appointments to deputy director and director in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

According to Nebraska’s constitution, Gov. Ricketts is responsible for appointing Ramge’s replacement with the consent of a majority of the state legislature. According to the Lincoln Journal Star, Ricketts appointed Eric Dunning to the position on April 2, with an effective start date of April 19.

The insurance commissioner is a state-level position in all 50 states. The duties of the position vary from state to state, but their general role is as a consumer protection advocate and insurance regulator. The position is elected in 11 states and appointed in 39. The office is nonpartisan in 38 states. The 12 states in which the position is partisan include the 11 states where the insurance commissioner is elected, as well as Ohio. Of the 12 states where the insurance commissioner has a partisan affiliation, the office is held by a Democrat in three and a Republican in nine.

Additional Reading:



Mayor and city council recall effort underway in Lincoln, Nebraska

An effort is underway in Lincoln, Nebraska, to recall Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and city council members James Michael Bowers, Richard Meginnis, Jane Raybould, and Tammy Ward. Petitions were filed with the Lancaster County election commissioner on October 26. Each official is given 20 days to submit a statement of defense, after which the election commissioner has five days to approve the petitions for circulation. Recall organizers will then have 30 days to gather signatures.

The recall effort is organized by a group called LNK Recall in response to the appointment of Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Director Pat Lopez on August 17, 2020. The Lincoln City Council suspended city charter rules that give the public an opportunity to weigh in on the appointment, allowing for an immediate vote to appoint Lopez as health director.

Petition language against Baird states, “Mayor Baird sought out and obtained open-ended authoritarian control and used it to attack our liberty, usurp legislative authority, silence our voices, misuse our police, destroy our small businesses, sow discord in our community and allowed vandalism in our city. We the people do hereby intend to stop her assault on the citizens and Good Life of Lincoln.”

Petition language against the council members states, “City Council ignored them (Lincoln citizens) and voted to suspend councils own rules anyway, in order to cancel the remaining required hearing and vote immediately, silencing the voice of Lincoln citizens.”

In response to the recall effort, Baird said, “I am focused every minute on doing the job that the people of Lincoln elected me to do. Right now, that includes working with the City Council and our Health Department to lead the city through an unprecedented global pandemic. I am not going to be distracted by a small group of people who want to divide our community.”

The number of valid signatures required to force a recall election is 35% of the total votes cast for the office in the last general election. To put the recall elections on the ballot, petitioners would need 21,652 valid signatures against Baird, 4,864 valid signatures against Bowers, 8,009 valid signatures against Meginnis, 5,362 valid signatures against Raybould, and 2,495 valid signatures against Ward.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading:



The two battleground House races with electoral votes at stake

In addition to electing their next representative on Nov. 3, two battleground U.S. House districts will also decide which presidential candidate gets one of their state’s Electoral College votes.

While 48 states give all their electoral votes to the statewide winner of the presidential contest, Maine and Nebraska distribute some of their electoral votes to the winners of each congressional district. Each state awards two of its electoral votes to the statewide presidential election winner. Maine distributes its two remaining electoral votes to the winner(s) of its two congressional districts. And Nebraska distributes its three remaining electoral votes to the winner(s) of its three congressional districts.

Maine’s 2nd and Nebraska’s 2nd are two of the 41 battleground U.S. House races Ballotpedia is following.

Maine’s 2nd

Incumbent Jared Golden (D), Dale Crafts (R), and write-in candidates Daniel Fowler (D) and Timothy Hernandez (D) are running. 

Golden was first elected in 2018. He defeated incumbent Bruce Poliquin (R) 50.6% to 49.4%. That was the first general election in Maine for which ranked-choice voting was law. It was also the first congressional election in U.S. history to use ranked-choice voting to decide the winner.

The 2nd District is one of 30 Democratic-held U.S. House districts that Donald Trump (R) won in the 2016 presidential election. 

• Trump defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 51% to 41% in the 2nd District. Poliquin won the House race 55% to 45% that year.

• Barack Obama (D) won the district in the 2012 and 2008 presidential elections with 53% and 55%, respectively. Mike Michaud (D) won the House elections those years.

Three independent election forecasters rate the 2020 House race Likely or Solid Democratic.

Nebraska’s 2nd

Incumbent Don Bacon (R), Kara Eastman (D), and Tyler Schaeffer (L) are running. The race is one of 56 U.S. House rematches from 2018. In 2018, Bacon defeated Eastman 51% to 49%. Bacon defeated incumbent Brad Ashford (D) in 2016, 49% to 48%.

Presidential election results in recent cycles were as follows:

• Trump defeated Clinton 48% to 46% in the 2nd District in 2016.

• In 2012, Mitt Romney (R) defeated Obama 53% to 46% in this district. In 2008, Obama defeated John McCain (R) 50% to 49%. Lee Terry (R) won the House elections both years.

Three election forecasters rate the 2020 House race a Toss-up.

All 435 seats in the House are up for election. Democrats currently have a 232 to 198 majority over Republicans in the chamber.

Additional reading:



Former incumbent Ashford (D) endorses Bacon (R) in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District

Brad Ashford (D), the former representative of Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, endorsed incumbent Don Bacon (R) on October 7. Bacon defeated Ashford for the seat in 2016. Ashford said Bacon “demonstrated time and again … that he will put people above party to find bipartisan solutions.”

Ashford ran again in 2018, losing to Kara Eastman in the Democratic primary. Ashford previously ran for the district in the 1994 Republican primary. He was elected in 2014 as a Democrat. Ashford served in the nonpartisan Nebraska Unicameral legislature from 1987 to 1995 and again from 2007 to 2015. In 2011, he announced having changed his registration from Republican to independent.

Bacon, Eastman, and Tyler Schaeffer (L) are running for the 2nd District this year. Eastman defeated Ann Ashford, wife of Brad, in the 2020 Democratic primary.

State Sen. John McCollister (R) endorsed Eastman on October 9. McCollister has been critical of President Donald Trump and said Bacon had voted in favor of the president’s policies more than 90% of the time. He said Bacon was not independent and that Eastman wouldn’t “buckle under any pressure from the Democrat Party.”

On October 7, Roll Call named Bacon the most vulnerable House member of the 2020 election cycle, citing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s 7-point lead among district voters in a recent poll and spending by national Democrats. As of October 8, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Campaign Committee had each spent $1.2 million in the 2nd District.

Biden endorsed Eastman in the race.

In 2018, Bacon defeated Eastman 51% to 49%. Bacon won the 2016 election against Ashford 49% to 48%.

Additional reading: