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Fortenberry, Flood trade jabs in Nebraska congressional race

January 28, 2022 GMT

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry went on the offensive Friday against his Republican primary challenger, accusing state Sen. Mike Flood of “betraying conservative values” on immigration with his support of a 2012 health care law that divided Nebraska Republicans.

Fortenberry slammed Flood for his push to override the veto of then-Gov. Dave Heineman, a fellow Republican who opposed the measure in the Legislature. Heineman and current Gov. Pete Ricketts endorsed Flood last week.

Flood, of Norfolk, announced plans recently to challenge Fortenberry, who faces federal criminal charges alleging that he lied to investigators who were investigating an illegal contribution to his campaign from a foreign national. Fortenberry has pleaded not guilty.

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“Over the course of this campaign, we will highlight Mike Flood’s history of betraying conservative values and the America First Agenda, squishy votes, and caving to the whims of liberal activists,” Fortenberry’s campaign said in a statement.

Fortenberry’s campaign released an ad that singles out the 2012 health care law, which allowed pregnant women who are in the country illegally to qualify for state-funded prenatal care. The ad also attempts to connect Flood with President Joe Biden, citing last year’s increase in U.S. southern border crossings that happened while Biden was in office.

Some Nebraska lawmakers, including Flood, deemed the health care measure a “pro-life” matter and argued that unborn children don’t have an immigration status and should receive care. But others viewed it as a taxpayer-funded giveaway to people in the country illegally.

“Mike prioritized his pro-life principles on a difficult bill,” said Ryan Kopsa, Flood’s campaign manager. “For Jeff Fortenberry to attack that pro-life vote and lie about it is evidence of just how desperate Fortenberry is in the face of federal criminal prosecution.”

Fortenberry also faces a Democratic challenger, state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, of Lincoln. Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District is heavily Republican and hasn’t elected a Democrat since 1964. Fortenberry was first elected in 2004 and is seeking a 10th term.

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