Nebraska Republicans brace against “blue wave” in November

August 21, 2018

LINCOLN - Nebraska Republicans look to keep any “blue wave” from rocking a traditionally red state.

This is the first of a two-part series.

Every political leader has worries, including leaders of states which seem secure.

Nebraska Republican Party Executive Director Kenny Zoeller says Republicans face some difficulties in 2018, even in Nebraska.

“Well, you know, Democrats are energized. They are absolutely energized. There’s no doubt about that,” Zoeller tells Nebraska Radio Network. “So, what we have to do is match that energy.”

Republicans hold all of Nebraska’s major political posts with Gov. Pete Ricketts and U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer seeking re-election, along with all three Congressmen: Jeff Fortenberry, Don Bacon, and Adrian Smith.

Republicans nationally have faced some tough opposition since 2018 ushered in President Donald Trump in a close race with Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. While Republicans have been able to retain most of their seats up for special election, the margins have been close in each race, uncomfortably close for the GOP.

No race illustrates that better than the special election in Ohio, where Republican Troy Balderson clings to a 15-hundred vote lead over Democrat Danny O’Connor in race not officially called as provisional ballots are counted and a re-count looms likely. Republicans have held the seat since 1982 with Trump winning the district by 11 points.

Zoeller isn’t sure how to read Republican difficulties during special elections in other states.

“At the end of the day, special elections are just that, they’re special elections,” Zoeller says. “While the energy, obviously, in some of these special elections is on the Democratic side, we don’t know what that’s going to mean for November.”

Zoeller sees two keys for Nebraska Republicans to maintain their grip on the state: not take anything for granted and get out and tell their success stories. Success stories, according to Zoeller, include Gov. Ricketts’ efforts to deal with declining state revenue without raising taxes and the federal tax cuts enacted by Congress.

Zoeller says Republicans lose in Nebraska when they fail to get their message out.

Tomorrow, we explore the seats Republicans hope to defend this November.

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