Nebraska's GOP Has Dumped All Republican Incumbents

There's quite a fracture between Trump loyalists and the old guard
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 14, 2024 2:23 PM CDT
Nebraska's GOP Has Dumped All Republican Incumbents
US Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., a Republican moderate, speaks at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023. In one of the most closely watched congressional races of the year, Bacon is looking to defeat a fellow Republican in the primary.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In one of the most closely watched congressional races this year, US Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska is looking to defeat a fellow Republican in Tuesday's primary election in his quest for reelection. He'll have to do it without the support of the state Republican Party, which has endorsed his primary challenger, reports the AP. Bacon, whose district includes the state's largest city of Omaha, isn't the only one being snubbed. The Nebraska GOP, which was taken over by Donald Trump loyalists during a contentious state convention in 2022, has refused to endorse any of the Republican incumbents who hold all five of the state's congressional seats.

The state party has endorsed primary challengers to US Sen. Pete Ricketts and Rep. Adrian Smith, who represents the state's vast rural 3rd Congressional District. And it has declined to issue endorsements in the races of US Sen. Deb Fischer and Rep. Mike Flood, who represents the 1st Congressional District. Both Fischer and Flood face challengers who entered those races after the state GOP announced its endorsement decision in January. It lays bare the bitter divide between Trump loyalists who control the Nebraska GOP, as well as several county Republican parties, and the establishment Republicans previously at the helm, says John Hibbing, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln political science professor. "It's not a good look," Hibbing says. "You'd like the faces of your party, who would be your elected representatives, and the state party leaders to be on the same page."

It's even more perplexing when considering the voting records and campaign rhetoric of the incumbents, he said. "I think they're probably wondering: 'What else can we do?'" Hibbing said. "These are solidly conservative individuals." The state party said in an email Monday it didn't endorse any of the Republican incumbents because they didn't ask. But Bacon said Monday that incumbents didn't have to request the party for endorsements in years past. "These folks were hostile to all of us, and they changed the rules," Bacon said. Todd Watson, political director of the state GOP, denied that the move was solely about Trump, but he said most Nebraska Republicans are fed up with what they see as attacks on Trump, the state party's new direction, and "our way of life. What we believe in is the Constitution, conservative principles, and God."

(More Nebraska stories.)

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