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Nebraska Primary: Lee Terry’s Close Call

Terry, seen here in 2012, is seeking a ninth term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Terry, seen here in 2012, is seeking a ninth term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:35 p.m. | Republican Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska faced an unexpectedly close primary contest Tuesday night but prevailed to claim the GOP nod for re-election in the Cornhusker State.  

Just after 11:30 p.m. the Associated Press called the race for Terry, who represents Nebraska’s 2nd District, over businessman Dan Frei. Terry had 19,823 votes, or 54 percent, and Frei had 17,088, or 46 percent.

For most of the night Terry led Frei by just more than 2,300 votes in spite of a huge cash advantage. According to pre-primary reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Frei had just less than $4,000 in cash on hand. Terry had slightly more than $600,000. The congressman issued a statement about winning the race after the Omaha World Herald tweeted he was the victor.

“Tonight, I am extremely humbled and grateful that the people of Omaha have continued to respond to my message of holding Barack Obama’s Washington accountable,” he said. “The reality is we still have a lot of work to do and a lot of fighting to do. ObamaCare needs to be repealed and replaced. The Keystone XL Pipeline needs to be approved. Washington needs to be held accountable. There is a lot to fight against, but there is also a lot to fight for and until we have the government we deserve, I will not stop fighting for the people of Omaha.”  

The incumbent’s spending in this race dwarfed his challenger’s spending: Terry spent $900,000, according to FEC filings. Frei spent just $45,000.  

Terry is no stranger to close races. In 2012, he narrowly defeated Democratic John Ewing 51 percent to 49 percent in the general election. He has faced several primary challengers over the years who questioned his conservative credentials.  

Come November Terry will face Democrat Brad Ashford.  

The race is rated Favored Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

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