Brad Ashford, Don Bacon Clash Over Bid for Congress


November 9th, 2016

Rep. Brad Ashford talk to the media. (Photo by Brandon McDermott)

Rep. Brad Ashford talk to the media. (Photo by Brandon McDermott)

The 2016 race for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District turned out to be very contentious between incumbent Congressman Brad Ashford and Ret. Brig. Gen. Don Bacon. KVNO’s Brandon McDermott attended Ashford’s campaign event last night and filed this report.

Omaha, NE – Leading up to Election Day, the polls for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District indicated that Democratic Congressman Brad Ashford and his opponent Republican Don Bacon were locked in a tight race.

The early voting results last evening showed Bacon first taking a large lead, but those figures began to change as more votes rolled in. But by the end of the night the race was too close to call. Ashford’s wife told a crowd at 11:30 p.m. that counting of votes would go on far into the morning. Bacon also addressed his crowd, around midnight, but was more upbeat.

“It’s too early to call, unfortunately,” Bacon said. “We’re going to have to do this tomorrow morning. But we’re in a very good spot.“
Bacon’s crowd cheered loudly when they heard the news.

“The reason we’re in a good spot is because of you,” Bacon said. “You guys have been the best team to be around and I’ve been part of teams ever since I was 21 years old flying and working with the Air Force.”

Recent ads against Bacon have claimed that he would like to raise the age to receive Social Security benefits and cut even Medicare. Bacon has said this was simply untrue. Bacon’s campaign did tout repealing Obamacare, creating a simpler, flatter tax code and strengthening the military. Bacon called himself a political outsider and recently reached out to independent and undecided voters in an attempt to unseat the Ashford.

Ashford outspent the Bacon campaign by $1.1 million. There was a surge in overall contributions to the Bacon campaign in the final quarter before Election Day, in which contributions to his campaign totaled more than $500,000. I spoke to Ashford before the polls closed yesterday and he was cautiously optimistic.

“I feel comfortable about it because I feel like we’ve produced for them. We’ve produced for the community. That’s what I set out to when I started running a little over two years ago.”

Ashford pointed to his being bi-partisan when it came to issues and working with members of Congress. He ranked 34-out-of-438 members of the House of Representatives on the Luger Center bipartisan Index, which ranks how often each member of Congress works across party lines. He said he will continue to be a member of the House which isn’t focused as much on party as he is on people and issues. Ashford said he didn’t think either campaigns were contentious, but pointed to his record.

“I don’t look at it that way,” Ashford said. “I look upon it and it’s kind of differently. Twenty months ago when I took office, I said I’d work across the aisle nonpartisan way with projects done from off the runway that were making the Veterans Administration Medical Center happen. The Infectious Disease Center at UNMC has happened.”

When it comes to endorsements for the candidates, Ashford was endorsed by the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Nebraska State Education Association and the Human Rights Campaign. Omaha Mayor Gene Stohtert endorsed Bacon, though she said both men running were “fine candidates.” Other Bacon endorsements included Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Bacon defeated Ashford 49 percent to 47 percent.

Ashford is the first Nebraska congressman serving the 2nd district to lose a re-election bid after one term since Eugene D. O’Sullivan lost to Howard Buffet in 1951.

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