Republicans showed their political dominance across Nebraska on Tuesday night in several key races, and Platte County residents were overwhelmingly in favor of it.
Gov. Pete Ricketts, Sen. Deb Fischer, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (all Republicans) won their respective re-election bids. They were also heavily favored by Platte County voters.
Jason Beiermann, chairman of the Platte County Republican Party, said the wins were something he expected.
“Obviously, Nebraska traditionally leans in the Republican direction, so nothing was too surprising there,” he said Wednesday. “And that’s the Party, of course, I would prefer to have winning those races.”
Ricketts and running mate Lt. Gov. Mike Foley defeated challengers Bob Krist and Lynne M. Walz by a vote of 404,537 (59.42 percent) to 276,234 (40.58 percent), according to unofficial election results posted shortly after noon Wednesday that showed all 1,389 precincts reported. Ricketts-Foley also had a particularly strong showing in Platte County, picking up 8,510 votes (77.62 percent) to their challengers’ 2,453 (22.38 percent).
“I appreciate the support of the people across the state of Nebraska and the people of Platte County," Ricketts told The Telegram over the phone Tuesday night.
The governor over the phone cited property tax relief as one of his biggest priorities entering his second term, adding there is “still plenty of work” to be done.
Ricketts, a former executive at TD Ameritrade, has governed with fiscal restraint and repeatedly spoke against any sort of tax increase. During his governorship, the rate of growth in state spending has plummeted by more than 90 percent.
Beiermann, who noted he knows and has interacted with Ricketts in the past, said he was happy to see the governor win out.
“He’s been in town a number of times both for campaigning and also some of the industrial and business things happening in town,” he said. “He did well in his first term, and I think that’s why he was re-elected.”
U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer also had the support of Platte County, capturing 8,315 local votes (75.92 percent) to Democrat Jane Raybould’s 2,324 votes (21.22 percent) and Libertarian Jim Schultz’s 314 (2.87 percent). All in all, Fischer obtained 395,996 votes (58.14 percent) across the state compared to Raybould’s 260,534 (38.25 percent) and Schultz’s 24,606 (3.61 percent).
Fischer, the Valentine rancher and former state senator, upended Raybould to secure her second six-year term.
"I promised you six years ago that I was going to go to Washington and I was going to develop relationships with Republicans and with Democrats and we were going to get results for this state and I kept my word," Fischer told a victory party in Lincoln, as reported by the Lincoln Journal Star, a sister paper of The Columbus Telegram.
Fortenberry (NE-01) earned his eighth term to represent Nebraska’s First Congressional District, coming away with 140,248 votes (60.54 percent) compared to Democratic challenger Jessica McClure, who received 91,426 votes (39.46 percent.) Fortenberry took Platte County with ease, earning a commanding 8,834 votes (80.87 percent) to McClure’s 2,090 (19.13 percent).
“It’s really kind of the same thing,” Beiermann said, comparing Fortenberry’s race to Fischer’s. “I’m not surprised Congressman Fortenberry won re-election.”
All in all, Nebraskans seemed to prove true to being part of a red state. Fortenberry’s fellow congressmen, Republicans Don Bacon (NE-02) and Adrian Smith (NE-03) also captured wins.
In other statewide races, Republicans Bob Evnen, John Murante, Doug Petersen and Charlie Janssen won out in the secretary of state, state treasurer, attorney general and auditor of public accounts races, respectively. Murante and Peterson both ran uncontested, picking up 100 percent of the votes in their respective races.
Evnen defeated Democrat Spencer Danner with 399,482 (61.09 percent) votes to the latter’s 254,480 (38.91 percent). Evnen was the favorite in Platte County, too, earning 8,120 votes (78.06 percent). He’ll follow in the footsteps of current Secretary of State John Gale, who is stepping down from the position after nearly two decades worth of service.
Janssen, who earlier this year came under fire over his hours and long lunches after an Omaha World-Herald article was published, retained his seat with 373,849 votes (57.99 percent) to Democrat Jane Skinner’s 270,797 (42.01 percent). Platte County also voted in favor of Janssen, as he picked up 7,705 votes (75.12 percent) locally to Skinner’s 2,552 (24.88 percent).
Beiermann reiterated he felt Republicans’ success in this and past elections have to do with the Party.
“Smaller government and fiscal responsibility and common sense are where a lot of Nebraskans are, and I think a lot of Nebraskan values can be found in the Republican Party,” he said. “And I think that’s why they have done well and have been re-elected.”
Beiermann said he didn’t have any specific expectations about what would happen at the state government level moving forward.
“At the state level, it’s going to be a continuance of Republican leadership that we’ve had here,” he said.
Despite the enormous support for Republicans in the election, Nebraskans on Tuesday did pass Measure 427 with a little over 53 percent of the vote -- the measure expands Medicaid coverage.
“That will be an interesting situation to observe going forward as to how it will be implemented,” Beiermann said, noting he’s curious to see how the state budget will be balanced and how the expansion will be funded."
The majority of Platte County residents voted against the measure, though. Of 10,319 total votes in the county, 6,114 (59.25 percent) were against, while 4,205 (40.75 percent) were in favor.
Lee Newspapers contributed to this story.
Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.