Obama, Ashford, and the Omaha-area seat in Congress

Rep. Brad Ashford and President Barack Obama seen arriving on Air Force One (Photo by Dennis Kellogg, NET News)
January 13, 2016 - 9:40pm

Sometimes Nebraska Democrats keep their distance from more liberal national politicians in their party. Not so for Omaha-area Congressman Brad Ashford, who flew in with President Obama on Air Force One.


In his speech, Obama didn’t draw a link with Ashford on current issues. Instead, he talked about how Ashford’s Swedish grandfather Otto Swanson founded the Omaha chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

“On the flight over here, Brad was telling me about his grandfather,” Obama said. “He was telling me about how his grandfather helped to set up an organization that was critical in fighting anti-Semitism, and helping to bring Jews who were escaping Hitler and Nazi Germany.”

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Don Bacon (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

Ashford said he was proud the president came, but professed no idea what the political effect would be.

“It’s a celebration, it’s an honor for Nebraska. I’ve no idea what it does for me politically. What it does for me is make me very proud to see all these people here. That’s what it does for me. Who knows who they’re going to vote for?" Ashford said, laughing.

Chip Maxwell (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Interviewed before Obama spoke, Republican congressional candidate Don Bacon tied Ashford to Obama’s policies, including preserving the Affordable Care Act.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise that Congressman Ashford is flying in with him (Obama),” Bacon said. “He’s (Ashford’s)  voted, very supportive of his policies. I think the State of the Union address last night shows that there’s a false reality out there, that the average American people are not seeing what the president is seeing or what Brad Ashford is seeing.”

Another Republican candidate, Chip Maxwell, said Obama’s appearance shows how important the seat is to Democrats. Republicans held it for 20 years before Ashford beat Republican incumbent Lee Terry in 2014. Besides Bacon and Maxwell, Libertarians Jeffrey Lynn Stein and Andy Shambaugh are running, and another possible Republican candidate, Cory Scott Van Blarcom, has  registered with the Federal Election Commission.

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