Campaign: Ewing in “striking distance” of Terry

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August 23rd, 2012

Omaha, NE – The race for Nebraska’s Second Congressional District is becoming increasingly heated, as Democrat John Ewing’s campaign says he is in striking distance of his opponent, Republican Congressman Lee Terry. Robyn Wisch checked in with Nebraska Watchdog’s Joe Jordan for the latest on the race.

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Robyn Wisch: Joe, thanks for joining us.

Joe Jordan: Hi Robyn, how are you?

RW: Good. So the Ewing campaign has released a new poll, conducted by We Ask America, which shows Congressman Terry leading by just six points. We’re still two months out from the November elections, but what does that poll show us at this point in the race?

JJ: Well, it’s a little eye opening. First of all, We Ask America is a usually conservative-leaning organization. Their polls usually turn out to be more favorable to Republicans than Democrats. And so with Terry having a 46-40 lead over Ewing in this poll, my guess is Democrats are going to take a lot of heart in that. And Terry’s campaign, although publicly they’re saying all is fine, I would think that must bother them a little bit. If for no other reason, incumbents always get concerned when they’re not at or above 50 percent in the polls. Ewing would be in a position that most Democrats haven’t been in against Lee Terry in quite some time, which is mid-August in a somewhat close race.

John Ewing, Douglas County Treasurer, is six points behind Congressman Lee Terry, according to a poll released by We Ask America. (Photo by Brandon McDermott)

RW: The issues of the race are taking an interesting turn in light of Missouri Congressman Todd Akin’s comments on “legitimate rape.” This is happening around the country, where Democrats are trying to link their Republican opponents in House races to Congressman Akin, and drive the conversation to these hot-button topics. And the Ewing campaign is doing the same thing, trying to link Terry’s support of a bill that mentioned “forcible rape” to Congressman Akin’s comments. Can you sort through that issue for us, and does it have any traction?

JJ:I think it has some traction. How long it’s going to last and where it’s going to wind up, I think those are the questions. But first of all, it’s important to note, that both John Ewing and Congressman Terry have called on Todd Akin from Missouri to get out of the race in light of his comments.

Congressman Lee Terry is running for his eighth term in the U.S. House. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

But that wasn’t good enough for Ewing, when he looked at Terry’s record on this. Congressman Terry co-sponsored a piece of legislation that was co-sponsored by 200-plus other Republican members of the House of Representatives, including Congressman Akin, and that legislation would have classified rape as “forcible rape.” And according to John Ewing, who is a former deputy police chief in the city of Omaha, who says he’s worked with rape victims over his years in the police department, his quote was “Forcible rape? As if there is some other form of rape?” So he’s trying to take Congressman Terry to task for sort of splitting hairs over the definition of rape. I think after that, Terry’s campaign, and maybe the Congressman himself, commented ‘rape is rape, and the word “forcible” didn’t really matter in the legislation because ‘rape is rape.’

But it does cloud the issue a bit…The Republicans want to talk about the economy failing under Democratic leadership in the White House. And if nothing else, this takes the argument, for the moment, away from the GOP, and forces them to talk about social issues that in general don’t usually help Republican candidates … especially in swing districts or in the country in general.

RW: Finally, there’s another issue that has come up in this race. Apparently, there was an incident where a racial slur was spray painted on a homeowner’s garage door in northwest Omaha. And it’s believed that was targeting John Ewing. Can you tell us what you know about what happened here?

JJ: Well, it was the “n-word” which was spray painted on a garage door. Apparently, the individual who owned the garage, owned the property, in the May primary that individual had put up a John Ewing for Congress yard sign, took it down after the May 15th primary. Then apparently in early August, the n-word, telling the individual don’t put up any more of those signs was spray painted on the home owner’s garage.

In the last 24 hours or less, police made an arrest of a 78-year-old woman who lived in that neighborhood, and she was technically cited for misdemeanor destruction of property. That’s what we know at the moment. Nebraska Watchdog has been unable to reach the woman, so we’re not releasing her name just yet. That may come out at a later date. Both the Ewing campaign and the Terry campaign consider it an isolated incident. But it does tell you that race is always an issue in American politics, even here in 2012.

RW: Well, thanks Joe. We appreciate your time. Thanks for joining us today.

JJ: Okay, Robyn.

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