Janicek will challenge Sasse; most incumbents lead legislative races

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May 12, 2020 - 11:28pm

Omaha businessman Chris Janicek won the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican U.S. Senator Ben Sasse in November. And most incumbents led in their races to hold onto seats in the Nebraska Legislature.


Janicek, who runs bakery businesses and invests in property in Omaha, outpolled six other Democrats to win his party’s nomination. Meanwhile, Sasse easily outdistanced challenger Matt Innis to win renomination for a second term. In an interview Tuesday night, Janicek said health care will be his number one issue.

“Our current representatives have voted over and over and, I’m going to say it one more time, over, to take healthcare away from people, including people that have healthcare through their employer with preexisting condition protections. And there’s no replacement in sight – they just want to do away with it and return it to the for-profit market that it currently is. And that’s got to stop. We have to come up with a single-payer plan to provide universal healthcare for everyone in this country,” Janicek said.

Janicek also said he’ll work to end tariffs that he said are hurting U.S. farmers.

Sasse, running for reelection, was not available for an interview. In a video released by his campaign, he stayed away from specific issues, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

“On a night like this, politics is not the center of things. It’s the way neighbor helps neighbor, and the way people come together to love those who are the least fortunate and suffering among us. So I just want to say ‘Nebraska, thank you.’ It has been an honor to represent you  the last five and a half years. And my pledge to you is that I’m going to keep trying to be the same independent-minded, conservative straight-shooter that Nebraska deserves, and I look forward to the next six months back out on the campaign trail continuing to listen to and learn from you,” Sasse said.

Meanwhile, in races for the Nebraska Legislature, in nearly every instance incumbents were leading challengers. That included one senator appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts, Julie Slama of Peru. But another Ricketts appointee, Andrew LaGrone of Gretna, trailed challenger Jen Day.

There are six seats opened up by term limits forcing out incumbents; of those races, it appears only three will have a registered Democrat running against a registered Republican in the fall. That reduced the chances of a significant change in party registrations in the officially nonpartisan Legislature, which currently has 31 Republicans, 17 Democrats, and one independent.

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