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Democrat Brad Ashford Falls in Nebraska’s 2nd District

Seat was seen as rare pickup opportunity for Republicans this cycle

Don Bacon is the projected winner for the House seat representing the Omaha area. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Don Bacon is the projected winner for the House seat representing the Omaha area. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nebraska Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford has lost his re-election bid.

He was one of just three Democratic incumbents that Republicans were believed to have a chance of knocking off this year, and The Associated Press projected Wednesday morning that Republican challenger Don Bacon has done just that, picking up the Cornhusker State’s 2nd District seat in the House.

Running in a district Mitt Romney carried in 2012, Ashford tried to distance himself from his party. Asked if he was a Republican at a parade this summer, he replied: “Aw, I don’t know. Whatever you want me to be.”

[Election Results 2016]

Nebraska’s 2nd District is centered in Omaha, the largest city in the state. Holding the seat was important to Democratic efforts to erode the Republican majority elsewhere. Coming into Election Day, the race was rated Tilts Democratic by The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.

Ashford beat GOP Rep. Lee Terry by 3 points in 2014, a result that Republicans had argued was more about voters rejecting Terry than embracing the Democratic nominee.

[Internal Poll: Nebraska’s Brad Ashford Leads in GOP District]

This has been a swing seat at the presidential level. President Barack Obama carried the district by 1 point in 2008 and Mitt Romney carried it by 7 points in 2012. 

Ashford has been the first Democrat to represent the district since 1995. But his efforts to win the seat go back to 1994, when he ran in the Republican primary, losing to Jon Christensen who went on to serve two terms.

Bacon, a first-time candidate and a retired Air Force brigadier general who once commanded Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, said in an interview that although the base itself is not in his district, many of its personnel live in the district.

He has said he wants to build up Offutt’s cyberwarfare and intelligence operations at a time when the Air Force is trying to consolidate or close bases.

He has expressed interest in serving on the Armed Services Committee, citing his ability to discuss weapons systems, strategy and Pentagon organization with an easy familiarity thanks to his years in the Air Force.

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