Rival candidates call for Janicek to step down in favor of Shelton

Alisha Shelton, left, and Angie Philips, right, at Omaha news conference (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)
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June 17, 2020 - 6:12pm

The second- and third-place finishers in Nebraska’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary joined a chorus of voices asking first-place finisher Chris Janicek to give up the nomination following disclosure of a sexual harassment complaint against him.


At an Omaha news conference, Angie Philips, the second-place finisher, called on Janicek to step down following revelation of sexually explicit group text messages he sent about a campaign staff member.

“He embarrassed himself. He embarrassed the Democratic Party, and the state of Nebraska. His behavior has no place in our government, and his name has no place on our ballot,” Philips said.

Philips said she and the third place finisher, Alisha Shelton, won a combined total of roughly 46 percent of the vote, compared to Janicek’s 31 percent. And even though she finished about one percentage point ahead of Shelton, Philips said she was endorsing Shelton because of the moment created by the Black Lives Matter movement. Philips is white; Shelton is black.

Janicek said following the revelation that he would not step down. Shelton was asked what she could do if he continued to refuse. She predicted she, Philips and supporters would change his mind.

“When women work together we do amazing things, such as women’s suffrage and the right to vote, such as creating humans, such as raising people, such as standing up against gun violence, etc. And so when women work together, I believe that Chris Janicek will do the right thing and step down,” Shelton said.

Janicek repeated Wednesday afternoon, following the news conference, that he would not step down. He has said he apologized to the woman referred to in his texts. But Shelton said that’s not enough.

“I don’t believe an apology is just that you say ‘Sorry,’ right? If you say ‘Sorry if I spilled milk,’ I should also clean it up if I’m sorry for really spilling milk,” she said.

And Philips predicted people won’t stand for a choice between Janicek and Sen. Ben Sasse, the Republican candidate, whom she criticized for his vote to confirm now Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. In his confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh faced allegations of sexual assault, accusations which he denied.

Philips and Shelton’s call for Janicek to step down follow a similar call from the Nebraska Democratic Party, which said Tuesday it would not provide him any campaign help. Meanwhile, the Douglas County Republican Party called on Janicek to contribute at least $10,000 to a women’s shelter, and the Nebraska State Education Association also called on him to withdraw. The deadline to withdraw his name from the ballot is August 3.

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