US House Races/Nebraska

Report by Bruce Driver from Indivisible North Boulder

Nebraska District 02:
Candidates are Don Bacon (incumbent R) and Kara Eastman (D).

Bacon is a first-term incumbent. He grew up on a farm in Illinois and spent his career until 2015 in the U.S. Air Force. He has voted with Trump 97% of the time. His core interest is national defense. He voted for the tax bill, concealed-carry reciprocity, for the AHCA and for the Pain-Capable Child Protection Act. He is a standard Republican in the age of Trump, but he does not appear overly ideological, having joined the House Climate Solutions Caucus, and he opposes the deportation of DACA recipients. His narrow 2% victory in 2016 may explain this. NFIB (small business org.) has endorsed him.

Kara Eastman scored a remarkable primary victory on 5/15, beating former D Rep. Brad Ashford, supported by the DCCC, by about 3%. She is a 46-year old non-profit director in Omaha and started the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance. She has a Masters in Social Work from Loyola Univ. of Chicago. She says her top priorities include: (1) Medicare for all; (2) campaign finance reform; (3) the environment; and (4) access to education. In her mind, the greatest challenges for the U.S. over the next decade are dealing with climate change and income equality. She’s endorsed by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Moms Demand Action and numerous labor unions. This is her first political campaign.

Description of district: This is Omaha and surrounding suburbs. It’s 98% urban, and mostly white but 10% black, 11% Hispanic + Warren Buffet (will he endorse someone?). It is the home of many insurance companies, raising an orange flag for Eastman and her Medicare-for-All proposal. Obama won in 2008 and Romney in 2012. Trump won by only 2% in 2016. Cook rates the race as a toss-up, but this was before the primary. Cook also rates this district as 4% more Republican than the average district nationally. As an incumbent, Bacon has far more money than Eastman as the race begins.

Summary: This is definitely a winnable race by Eastman, a solid progressive candidate. Financial support for Eastman will undoubtedly jump now that she won the primary, but she needs a lot of help.