Mike Moser


After being declared the winner of the District 22 Legislative race early Wednesday, Mike Moser didn’t spend his morning doing anything too elaborate.

In fact, he simply went right to work, backtracking his steps from months of campaigning by removing pro-Moser signs from various locations around town.

“I spent a lot of the morning just picking up signs and answering the phone,” the former three-term Columbus mayor said Wednesday afternoon. “I have my truck filled with signs, and I still have to go out and get more."

Putting out the signs – and now retrieving them - is all part of the process that’s required to make it into the Nebraska Unicameral. There are a lot of moving parts that must mesh for success to be attainable.

“The process of running for office is like a puzzle, with all of these little pieces that have to fit together,” the Republican said. “And the better you are able to do it, the better the outcome will be.”

Just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, just under 97 percent of Platte County’s vote – 31 of 32 precincts – was recorded. Throughout District 22, comprised of all of Platte, most of Stanton and the northwest corner of Colfax County, Moser garnered the vast majority of the vote by collecting 7,850 (64.3 percent) in comparison to 4,353 (35.7 percent) by his opponent, Republican Doug Oertwich.

Platte County, which comprises the largest portion of the Legislative District, overwhelmingly supported Moser with 7,024 votes (68.2 percent) cast in his favor compared to Oertwich’s 3,237 (31.4 percent). Colfax County also supported Moser with 287 votes (54.6 percent) to his opponent’s 239 (45.4.)

Oertwich, a Pilger farmer and small business owner, did end the election with a sizable victory in his home county of Stanton, receiving 877 votes to Moser’s 539.

“I think it was a fantastic experience, and a lot of people have called and wished me luck and congratulated me on what I was able to get done,” Oertwich said during a Wednesday interview with The Telegram. “The amount of votes we garnered with me only doing this (campaigning) a year-and-a-half versus a (former) mayor who has been doing this for years is a real accomplishment.”

Oertwich added though the race didn’t turn out as he hoped, he will remain active in several capacities, including serving on the Stanton County Planning Commission; serving his second six-year term as an elected official with Stanton County Public Power; working as a statewide director for the Nebraska Rural Electric Association and serving as a member of the Costco/Lincoln Premium Poultry advisory board.

The 56-year-old man said moving forward he just wants the unicameral to act upon the needs of those in District 22.

“I called Mike this morning and wished him luck,” Oertwich said.

With Moser preparing to be sworn into office in January, he said that he will be spending some time preparing for the colossal task at hand.

“I am looking forward to the challenge, and I think it’s going to be an interesting challenge representing our district,” Moser said. “I talked to Sen. (Paul) Schumacher last night, and he offered to help with the transition and give me some information on the issues that are being worked out in the Legislature … I am grateful for his help."

Schumacher, who has manned the District 22 seat for the past eight years and is stepping away because of term limits, said that he has known Moser for many years. The duo went to college together and have remained in contact since then.

Offering his endorsement while Moser was on the campaign trail, the Columbus lawyer and businessman said he believes Moser is the right person for the job. It certainly won’t be easy, though, Schumacher added.

“It’s certainly a big job and the state’s finances are really stressed right now and the state’s cash reserves have all been bled down,” Schumacher said. “And we’ve got a great deal of stress on the system for demands for K-12 education, mental health, covering the prison mess, maintaining the roads and above all, problems associated with a huge number of aging baby boomers who don’t have the savings to take care of themselves in their old age.

“He has a very, very difficult job ahead of him. And all the while, people are looking for ways to have their taxes cut,” he added with a laugh.

Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley, who defeated Moser during the 2016 city mayoral race, expressed his support for Moser after his victory appeared clear.

“I am extremely excited that Mike Moser was able to pull through and make this happen,” said Bulkley, who previously endorsed Moser. “I think he will be a great representative – he did a super job as mayor. I think the people of District 22 will be very happy with him as our representative. He certainly knows what’s important for our area and will continue to move that forward and really help us in Lincoln."

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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