AP NEWS

The Latest: Vote in Nebraska 2nd District too close to call

November 9, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Latest on the Nebraska general election (all times local):

2 a.m.

Nebraska’s Omaha-centric 2nd District congressional race is again coming down to the wire for the two candidates.

The race was still too close to call early Wednesday morning with election officials determining that Republican challenger Don Bacon held a slight edge over incumbent Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford with only about 70 percent of the vote counted.

Under Nebraska law, a recount is triggered when the vote margin between candidates is 1 percent or less of the winner’s vote total.

Ashford, a former state lawmaker from Omaha who has touted himself as a champion of bipartisanship in a gridlocked Congress. Bacon, a retired Air Force brigadier general, has painted himself as a Washington outsider.

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12:50 a.m.

Republican Donald Trump has won Nebraska’s electoral vote tied to its Omaha-centered 2nd District.

Trump easily won Nebraska’s four other electoral votes Tuesday, but the outcome of the 2nd congressional district remained unclear until well after midnight.

Democrat Barack Obama won the district in 2008 — the first time the state’s electoral votes had ever been split under a state law that allows the division of its five Electoral College votes. Nebraska and Maine are the only states where it’s possible to divide electoral votes between presidential candidates.

Clinton had hoped to become the second presidential candidate to shave off an electoral vote in the heavily conservative Nebraska, visiting Omaha in August and appearing with billionaire Warren Buffett.

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11:30 p.m.

Republicans have easily preserved their majority in Nebraska’s nonpartisan Legislature.

GOP candidates prevailed in enough races Tuesday to remain the dominant party even though senators aren’t controlled by formal party leadership.

New senators are expected to fill 11 seats that were open because of term limits, plus one where a GOP incumbent was ousted in the May primary. Another 11 incumbent senators faced challengers, including several moderate Republicans who were targeted by conservatives endorsed by Gov. Pete Ricketts. Three incumbent Republicans ran for re-election unopposed.

Nebraska’s Legislature has been comprised of 35 Republicans, 12 Democrats, one left-leaning independent and one Libertarian. Some Republican incumbents who weren’t up for election are known to break ranks.

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10:40 p.m.

Nebraska voters have reinstated the death penalty, reversing the Legislature’s decision last year to repeal capital punishment.

The vote Tuesday overturns the Legislature’s action from May 2015, when lawmakers abolished the death penalty and overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.

In response, Ricketts helped finance a signature-gathering campaign that put a measure on the ballot to restore the death penalty.

Nebraska hasn’t executed an inmate since 1997, when it used an electric chair. It has never carried one out with its current lethal injection protocol. Ten men currently sit on death row.

Nebraska had been the first conservative state to abolish the death penalty since North Dakota in 1973. Ricketts argued that lawmakers who supported the repeal were out of touch with their constituents.

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8:35 p.m.

Republican Jeff Fortenberry has been re-elected to a seventh term representing Nebraska’s 1st U.S. House district.

Voters Tuesday chose Fortenberry over Democrat and political newcomer Daniel Wik, a Norfolk pain-management doctor.

Fortenberry’s re-election campaign wasn’t without controversy. In early October, he was among several Republican congressional members to call on GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump to step aside following the release of a 2005 recording of Trump talking about kissing and grabbing women. Fortenberry later reversed course and said he would vote for Trump.

In the end, the controversy mattered little. A Democrat has not been elected in Nebraska’s 1st District since 1964.

Fortenberry was first elected to Congress in 2004

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8:05 p.m.

Nebraska voters have backed Republican Donald Trump, but it was unclear whether he will win all of the state’s five electoral college votes.

The victory by Trump on Tuesday continued a 52-year string of Republican presidential victories in Nebraska, where a Democrat hasn’t won the state since 1964.

However, it wasn’t clear whether Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton will win in the Omaha-centered 2nd Congressional District.

Under Nebraska’s unusual system, the state awards three of its Electoral College votes to the winner of individual districts. So if Clinton wins the 2nd district, she would win one vote and Trump would win four. That would repeat an achievement that Democrat Barack Obama managed in 2008.

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8 p.m.

Even some of the state’s Democrats are pulling for a return to the death penalty in the heavily conservative Nebraska.

Jillian Heywood, of Omaha, is a registered Democrat who voted Tuesday to reinstate Nebraska’s death penalty. The 24-year-old Heywood says she believes execution should be an option for those criminals who commit the most heinous crimes.

Ashley Brunz, a self-described moderate Democrat from Fremont, says she voted to keep the death penalty because she grew up with several close family members in law enforcement.

The 28-year-old Brunz says “it’s the way I was brought up — that the death penalty is a good thing.”

Earlier this year, Nebraska lawmakers abolished the death penalty and overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.

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7:25 p.m.

Lancaster County Election Commissioner Dave Shively says voter turnout in Nebraska’s second-largest county appears to be on par with his earlier prediction of about 70 percent.

Shively says he expects roughly 133,000 registered voters to cast a ballot in Tuesday’s election, up from nearly 129,000 in the 2012 presidential race.

Shively says polling station workers have reported only minor issues, such as missing signs. A few workers reported campaign volunteers who were standing too close to polling sites, but Shively says those issues were resolved without incident.

Shively says county election officials have stayed busy all day but the number of voters has been manageable.

Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale has said he’s hopeful voters will break previous turnout records.

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12:40 p.m.

A 32-year-old mother of three little girls says she voted for Donald Trump because Hillary Clinton “would be a lot worse.”

Kimber Barney said Tuesday in Omaha that the prospect of a woman becoming U.S. president didn’t move her from her Republican affiliation. Barney says she thinks women can do anything men can do, “but I don’t see that as a factor in electing a president. You need the best person for the job.”

Barney also voted to reinstate Nebraska’s death penalty. She says that, as a Christian, she thinks murder “is an unforgivable sin. I don’t do the eye-for-an-eye mentality, but there are people out there who don’t deserve a chance for parole.”

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12:25 p.m.

A lifelong Nebraska Republican says choosing to support Donald Trump was difficult.

Omaha resident Steve Palzer (PAWL’-zur) said Tuesday that he’d been going “round and round” and “couldn’t decide who was the lesser of two evils”: Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The 41-year-old Palzer has three daughters and he says Trump’s comments about some women bothered him. But some of the decisions Clinton and the Democrats have made also bothered him, especially the way Clinton handled the 2012 attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya.

Palzer says he looked for someone “I can be proud of as president.”

He says he supported Republican Don Bacon for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District seat because the Democratic incumbent, Brad Ashford, has put his party ahead of Nebraska too often in the past two years.

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10:55 a.m.

A 75-year-old immigrant who says he’s been a U.S. citizen for more than 20 years has voted for the first time, choosing Democrat Hillary Clinton on Election Day in Omaha.

Pedro Cruz wanted to demonstrate his support for Clinton because he likes her and not her Republican foe, Donald Trump.

Cruz said Tuesday that he was bothered by Trump’s campaign remarks associating immigrants with the drug trade and other crimes. Cruz says he’s never stolen anything from anyone and never brought drugs into the country.

Cruz also says Trump “is a bad person for all the Spanish people, and this country is for immigrants.”

Cruz and his wife rode along with Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett on a trolley that Buffett hired to help people reach the polls.

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10:20 a.m.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett is devoting part of Election Day to riding on a trolley he hired to drive voters to their Omaha polling places.

The Democrat pledged at a Hillary Clinton rally in August to help people get to the polls.

Buffett is chairman and CEO of Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway. The 86-year-old also is a longtime supporter of Clinton, but he declined Tuesday to talk about that. Instead he just wanted to encourage everyone to vote, regardless of party affiliation.

After voting at a church a few blocks from his Omaha home, Buffett noted, “I’ve been voting since 1952, and every Election Day is exciting.”

More than 1,000 people volunteered to help Buffett in his effort to boost turnout. He says “everybody that wants a ride gets a ride.”

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8 a.m.

Polls have opened for Election Day voting in Nebraska.

They’ll close at 8 p.m. Central in most of Nebraska and at 7 p.m. Mountain time in the western third of the state.

Republican Donald Trump is expected to win the state, but Democrats are hoping Hillary Clinton can snag one of Nebraska’s five Electoral College votes by winning in the 2nd Congressional District.

That could help the district’s first-term Democratic U.S. representative, Brad Ashford, who is running against Republican Don Bacon, a retired Air Force brigadier general. Republicans should easily win in Nebraska’s other two congressional districts.

Also on the ballot are the death penalty and legislative contests.

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12:10 a.m.

Republicans dominate politics in Nebraska, but there still will be plenty of uncertainty as voters go to the polls on Election Day.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, except for a slice of western Nebraska in the Mountain time zone where voting will begin and end an hour earlier.

Although Republican Donald Trump is expected to win in Nebraska, Democrats are hopeful Hillary Clinton could snag one of the state’s five Electoral College votes by finishing first in the 2nd Congressional District.

Clinton’s effort could help first-term Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford, who is running in the 2nd District against Republican Don Bacon. Republicans should easily win in Nebraska’s other two congressional districts.

Voters also will decide legislative races and whether to retain Nebraska’s death penalty.