State Races: Chambers returns to Legislature


November 6th, 2012

Omaha, NE – In the hotly-contested race for the North Omaha-based District 11, former State Sen. Ernie Chambers took on incumbent Sen. Brenda Council, who succeeded Chambers after he was termed out in 2008. Chambers easily won the race with over 67% of the vote.

Former State Senator Ernie Chambers, pictured here with his poodle Nichole, has a long history in North Omaha and is well-known in his community. (Photo courtesy Omaha Public Schools)

Chambers served for 38 years in the Nebraska Legislature, the longest tenure in state history. He was an outspoken member of the Unicameral and a master of the legislative process. He often worked to block legislation he didn’t favor and challenged lawmakers’ knowledge of their own bills. Chambers said term limit legislation was a deliberate attempt by his fellow senators to remove him from office, as he continued to be popular in his district.

Sen. Brenda Council was elected to succeed Chambers in 2008. Council is a former labor lawyer, who garnered the support of a majority of community leaders in her district. Council’s campaign faltered earlier this year after she was charged with illegally gambling campaign funds. Facing calls for her withdrawal, Council vowed to remain in the race and sought counseling for what she said was a gambling addiction problem.

Several newcomers also vied for a seat in the Nebraska Legislature Tuesday, after newly-imposed term limits forced some incumbents out of office.

Sen. Brenda Council, pictured here at a press conference flanked by other North Omaha leaders. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

Other Omaha-Area Legislative Races:

Sen. Heath Mello ran unopposed in South Omaha’s District 5, while incumbent Jeremy Nordquist, a Democrat, faced challenger Christopher Geary, running as a non-partisan, in the neighborhood’s District 7. Nordquist returned to the Senate by a handy margin of 70-29%.

In north Omaha’s District 13, incumbent Tanya Cook faced challenger and fellow Democrat Timothy Ashford. Ashford is an Omaha attorney who represented Mondo we Langa, formerly David Rice, in 2010 when he sought a new trial for his conviction in the killing of an Omaha policeman in 1970. Cook won a comfortable re-election by a margin of 60-40%.

Democrat Sara Howard sought to replace her mother, Gwen Howard, in midtown Omaha’s District 9. Howard faced Republican Erica Fish in the race, and turned Fish back by a margin of 66-34%.

In west Omaha, former principal of Millard West High School Rick Kolowksi, a Democrat, faced Republican Acela Turco in the race for District 31. The two sought to replace former Sen. Rich Pahls. That race had not yet been called. Kolowski was leading by a slim margin of 51.05% to 48.95% with 91% of precincts reporting.

Also in west Omaha, incumbent Republican Beau McCoy faced Democrat Judy Domina, who has served as the executive director of the Nebraska Family Support Network, which provides support services to families navigating the child welfare system. The two were vying for the District 39 seat. McCoy won handily by a margin of 61-39%.

In Sarpy County, incumbent Scott Price, a Republican, beat challenger Suzanne McNamara, a Democrat, in the District 3 race by a margin of 56-44%, while Districts 45 and 49 saw incumbents Abbie Cornett and LeRoy Louden departing the Legislature. Republican Richard Carter was in a tight race with Democrat Sue Crawford for Cornett’s seat. Crawford led by 50.97% to Carter’s 49.03% with 91% of precincts reporting. Fellow Republicans John Murante and Frank Wellenstein competed for Louden’s. Murante won by 66-34%.

University of Nebraska Board of Regents:

In Douglas County, Larry Bradley challenged incumbent Bob Whitehouse in District 4. Whitehouse won re-election by a margin of 56-44%. Former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub faced Ann Ferlic Ashford, the wife of State Sen. Brad Ashford, in the race for District 8, currently occupied by Randolph Ferlic, who is not seeking re-election. Daub led by 52.43% to Ashford’s 47.57% with 93% of precincts reporting.

In Lancaster County’s District 5, Lavon Heidemann and Mike Jones sought to replace retiring Chairman Jim McClurg. HEidemann led by 52.87% to Jones’ 47.13% with 93% of precincts reporting. In northeast Nebraska’s District 3, David Copple faced Jim Pillen to replace Chuck Hassebrook who left office to run for Nebraska’s Senate seat. Pillen won handily by a margin of 64-36%.


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