The Latest: Eastman wins 2nd District Democratic primary

May 16, 2018
FILE - In this April 5, 2018, photo, Kara Eastman and Brad Ashford, two Democrats vying to challenge 2nd District House incumbent Don Bacon, R-Neb., pose for a photo in Omaha, Neb. Democratic and independent voters will pick one as the party's nominee in the Tuesday, May 15, primary election. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Latest on the Nebraska primary (all times local):

12:18 a.m.

Nonprofit director and political newcomer Kara Eastman has won the Democratic nomination for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.

Eastman narrowly defeated former Rep. Brad Ashford in Tuesday’s primary election with a campaign that cast her as a champion of progressive ideals, including supporting a single-payer health care system.

Eastman contrasted herself against Ashford, a centrist and former Republican who focused on his legislative experience and willingness to work with conservatives.

She will now face Rep. Don Bacon, a first-term Republican who defeated Ashford in the 2016 election.

Ashford had been the first Democrat in two decades to win the district, which encompasses much of the Omaha metro area. Although Omaha’s strong Democratic core is balanced out by more conservative suburbs, the district gives Democrats a fighting chance of capturing a congressional seat in a state that is otherwise overwhelmingly Republican.


10:30 p.m.

Nebraska state Sen. John Murante has secured the Republican nomination for state treasurer and is all but certain to win the office in November.

Murante’s victory in Tuesday’s primary sets him on the path to replace current State Treasurer Don Stenberg, who is ineligible to run because of term limits. No Democratic or third-party candidates have filed to run.

Murante defeated financial adviser Taylor Royal, a former Omaha mayoral candidate who highlighted his experience in accounting.

Murante, of Gretna, was first elected to the Legislature in 2012 and was re-elected without a challenger in 2016. He has touted himself as a staunch conservative with endorsements from most of Nebraska’s top Republican officials, including Stenberg.


10:20 p.m.

Former lab chemist Jessica McClure has won the Democratic nomination to run in Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District.

McClure defeated Lincoln attorney Dennis Crawford in Tuesday’s primary election. She now faces incumbent U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who is seeking an eighth term and enjoys a significant fundraising advantage. Republicans have represented the district since 1966.

McClure started her career as a lab chemist and specialist who helps companies comply with federal regulations but resigned so she could campaign full-time. She says she decided to run because her daughter kept getting sick and Fortenberry voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. She says also was distraught with the results of the 2016 election.


10:10 p.m.

Lincoln attorney Bob Evnen has won the Republican nomination to replace outgoing Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale.

Evnen’s victory on Tuesday sets him up to face Democrat Spencer Danner, an underdog in GOP-dominated Nebraska. Gale is not seeking re-election.

Evnen defeated fellow Republican Debra Perrell, an administrative assistant from Hershey who hasn’t raised enough money to trigger state reporting requirements. Evnen enters the general election with nearly $113,000 in cash on hand as of last month.

Evnen has pitched himself as a conservative who supports voter identification laws, which lawmakers have not passed.

Evnen spent eight years on the Nebraska State Board of Education and was actively involved in the campaign to reinstate the death penalty after lawmakers abolished the punishment in 2015.


9:55 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith has won the Republican nomination to seek a seventh term in Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District, an overwhelmingly rural area that covers most of the state.

Smith fended off three GOP challengers on Tuesday to claim the nomination. He now will face Democrat Paul Theobald, a hog farmer, historian and former administrator at Wayne State College who ran unopposed for his party’s nomination. The district is heavily Republican.

Smith defeated Republican candidates Kirk Penner, an Aurora small business executive; Larry Lee Scott Bolinger, a property manager and author from Alliance; and Grand Island farmer Arron Kowalski.

Smith has pledged to focus on economic growth if re-elected and touted his support for the recent tax law passed by the GOP-controlled Congress.


9 p.m.

Nebraska state Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha has won the Democratic nomination to run for the seat held by incumbent Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Krist defeated two other Democratic candidates in Tuesday’s primary election. The veteran state lawmaker campaigned on promises that he would take a less partisan approach to state government than Ricketts.

Krist had been a Republican but switched his affiliation to nonpartisan in September when announcing his bid for governor. He reregistered as a Democrat in February due to legal barriers in his bid to qualify for the ballot as an independent.

The two other Democrats who ran were Vanessa Ward, a pastor and community activist from Omaha, and Tyler Davis, a University of Nebraska at Omaha instructor.


8:50 p.m.

Lincoln city councilwoman and grocery store executive Jane Raybould has won the Democratic nomination for Senate in Nebraska.

Raybould defeated three Democratic challengers in Tuesday’s primary race for the seat held by Republican Sen. Deb Fischer, who is running for re-election. Raybould faces an uphill general election battle in GOP-dominated Nebraska.

Fischer won election in 2012 by nearly 16 percentage points.

Raybould has served on the Lincoln City Council since 2015 and helps run her family’s grocery store chain. She ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2014 as part of Democrat Chuck Hassebrook’s gubernatorial campaign.

The other Democratic hopefuls who ran were retired farmer, attorney and judge Frank Svoboda of Lincoln; retired Fremont real estate broker Larry Marvin; and Chris Janicek, the owner of an Omaha specialty cake business.


8:40 p.m.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has easily won the Republican nomination to seek a second term in November.

Ricketts enters the general election with more than $1.3 million in campaign cash at his disposal for the general election, far outpacing all other gubernatorial candidates. His only GOP challenger in Tuesday’s primary didn’t raise or spend enough to trigger a reporting requirement.

Ricketts defeated Krystal Gabel of Omaha, a technical writer who advocates for medical marijuana and industrial hemp. Gabel previously volunteered for the Nebraska Green Party and the Legal Cannabis Now Party.

Ricketts has already started airing television ads to tout his previous efforts to lower property taxes.


8:30 p.m.

Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska has won the Republican nomination in her bid for a second term in office.

Fischer defeated four GOP challengers in Tuesday’s primary election and will be the strong favorite to win re-election in deep-red Nebraska.

Some of Fischer’s primary opponents had argued she wasn’t conservative enough, but Fischer received endorsements from a majority of the state’s elected Republican officials, as well as major farm and business groups. Before being elected to the Senate, she was a rancher and state legislator.

In the GOP primary, Fischer defeated retired Omaha math professor Jack Heidel; writer and retired air conditioning technician Dennis Frank Macek; former finance manager Jeffrey Lynn Stein; and Lincoln businessman Todd Watson.


8:05 p.m.

The polls have closed in a Nebraska primary election that will set up races for U.S. Senate, governor and the U.S. House.

Polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, ending a day of voting that election officials say was fairly light.

There were plenty of contests, topped by contested nomination races in both parties as Gov. Pete Ricketts and U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer sought second terms.

In congressional elections, attention was focused on the Omaha-based 2nd District, where Democrats Brad Ashford and Kara Eastman were competing for a chance to face Republican incumbent Rep. Don Bacon.

Other statewide races included state treasurer and legislative seats.


4 p.m.

He hasn’t won the primary yet, but Nebraska Democrat Bob Krist is already preparing a general election campaign for governor against Republican incumbent Pete Ricketts.

Krist announced Tuesday that he will embark on a 10-city, three-day tour across Nebraska with his running mate and fellow state senator, Lynne Walz.

Krist, a pilot and Air Force veteran, will fly himself and his campaign from Omaha to Scottsbluff, with stops in Sioux City and Grand Island. He also will stop in Bridgeport, a western Nebraska town where property taxes have skyrocketed by an average of 140 percent since 2007.

Krist, of Omaha, is seeking the Democratic nomination against University of Nebraska at Omaha instructor Tyler Davis and Omaha community activist Vanessa Ward.

Ricketts faces one challenger for the Republican nomination.


3:35 p.m.

Bill Kohler is a Democrat, but don’t look for him to support candidates from his party.

Kohler, of Lincoln, says his top concern for the election is to elect Nebraskans who will cooperate with President Donald Trump.

The 65-year-old retired cable technician said Tuesday after voting in the primary election that he supports incumbent Gov. Pete Ricketts and U.S. Rep. Deb Fischer. Kohler says he likes that Ricketts want to lower taxes and supports the National Rifle Association. He says he strongly supports Trump and appreciates that both candidates work well with the administration.

Kohler is registered as a Democrat but says he has become more conservative in recent years and plans to change his voter registration before the next election. He only voted for nonpartisan or independent candidates during the primary because he does not support the Democratic candidates


3:20 p.m.

Voter turnout appears to be light so far in two Omaha-area counties that will decide the winner of a competitive Democratic primary in the 2nd Congressional District.

The Douglas and Sarpy County election commissioners say turnout is on pace to meet their predictions that roughly 20 percent of registered voters will cast a ballot. They say neither county has experienced any major problems so far.

Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse says early voting continues to play a major role. He says he hopes to have final, unofficial results by 11 p.m.

Sarpy County Election Commissioner Michelle Andahl says turnout could pick up after voters get off work this evening.

Democrats Brad Ashford and Kara Eastman are vying for the chance to face incumbent U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican.


1 p.m.

Jason Brown rode his bike to vote in central Omaha at Lifegate Church’s midtown campus.

Brown said he voted for Kara Eastman in the Democratic primary for a congressional seat that is expected to be competitive in November, because he likes her more liberal views.

The 47-year-old Brown said: “I believe her more progressive views align with my beliefs better.”

Eastman is running the 2nd Congressional District, where Democrats believe they have a shot at unseating incumbent Republican Rep. Don Bacon. But most establishment Democrats have lined up behind Brad Ashford — who held the seat for one term until he was defeated by Bacon in 2016.

Brown said he respects Ashford and wouldn’t be disappointed if he wins the primary but he prefers Eastman’s liberal approach to Ashford’s centrist views.


12:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is tweeting his support of Nebraska Republican Sen. Deb Fischer as primary voters head to the polls.

Trump on Tuesday afternoon tweeted, “Nebraska - make sure you get out to the polls and VOTE for Deb Fischer today!”

Fischer is seeking a second term but first must overcome a challenge from four fellow Republicans for the GOP nomination.

Four Democrats also are seeking their party’s nomination to run for Senate.


8:15 a.m.

The polls have opened in Nebraska for the 2018 primary.

Secretary of State John Gale has predicted a statewide turnout of 28 percent, or about 336,000 of the nearly 1.2 million registered voters.

About 28 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the 2014 statewide primary.


12:20 a.m.

Omaha-area voters are set to pick a Democratic nominee who will challenge U.S. Rep. Don Bacon after the Republican claimed the seat from Democrats two years ago.

The 2nd Congressional District race is the most high-profile contest among the Tuesday primaries in Nebraska and a potential bright spot for Democrats who are heavily outnumbered throughout the state.

Former U.S. Rep. Brad Ashford hopes to win back his seat after Bacon defeated him in 2016, but political newcomer Kara Eastman has presented herself as a progressive alternative to the centrist Ashford.

Voters will also consider candidates in primary races for U.S. Senate, governor, state treasurer and legislative and congressional races.

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