Ashford ousts Terry in second district in narrow decision

Republican congressman Lee Terry addresses supporters in Omaha. (Photo by Robyn Murry, NET News)
Listen to this story: 

November 5, 2014 - 3:00am

UPDATE 11/5/14 - Lee Terry conceded the 2nd District race Tuesday afternoon after Democrat Brad Ashford built on his lead from election night. Ashford will be the first Democrat to represent the second district since Peter Hoagland who was in Congress from 1989-1995.

The 2nd Congressional District was the closest of the major races on Election Day. In the end, Democratic challenger Brad Ashford won with 49 percent of the vote. Republican incumbent Lee Terry had 46 percent.

Libertarian candidate Steven Laird may have played a factor, earning about 5 percent of the vote.

Along with the back and forth results as poll numbers came in, there was some vote counting confusion.

The race started with Republican Lee Terry in the lead. But as more numbers came in, Democrat Brad Ashford moved two to three points ahead and stayed there.

Close to midnight, Terry addressed supporters in what at first appeared to be a concession speech. But instead, he said he was “frustrated, if not angry” at the Douglas County Election Commission. That was after a TV news station tweeted the commission was going to count another 7,500 ballots before calling it a night.

“We don’t know how secure these ballots are, what can happen to those from west Omaha that haven’t been counted on yet that we were relying on to overcome the gap,” Terry said. “So I have a feeling that this election may last days or weeks now because of our Douglas County Election Commissioner’s office.”

Terry called it “as bizarre an electoral situation” as he’d seen in Nebraska in his lifetime. But that rumor about the ballots turned out to be false.

About a half-hour later, after Terry had left the building and his supporters had trickled out, his campaign manager said he’d spoken with the Election Commissioner and all ballots would be counted that night apart from the provisional and absentee ballots, but those are always counted later.

“It was being reported in a variety of media outlets that was the situation,” said Terry campaign manager Kent Grisham. “So we were accepting that on face value and since we couldn’t get any communication out of the election commission’s office we assumed it was accurate.”

Grisham added Terry would make no further statement until the numbers are final and the campaign has ensured all ballots were counted and the process was “clean.”

Meanwhile, the party was still going on at Democratic headquarters in Omaha where supporters of challenger Brad Ashford were in a celebratory mood. The mood was so celebratory in fact that some supporters were getting upset they couldn’t hear what little news there was. Around 1:30 a.m. Ashford emerged to say he was confident in a win.

“We’re winning this race,” Ashford said. “We have an over 3,000 vote lead now. We do not believe that Mr. Terry can win this race. There are still some absentee ballots to count but it is our belief that this race is almost done. Let me just put it this way, it’s all going to be fine.”

And it may all be fine. But a strange night brought no concession from the incumbent. So it’s still not clear who’ll be going to Washington.



blog comments powered by Disqus