Mitts off in 1st District GOP congressional race with new attack ads

By: - February 2, 2022 5:29 pm

(Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Republican candidates in Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District primary race traded sharp political attacks in new campaign ads launched Wednesday.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry charged in a radio ad that his main rival, State Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk, shares the same views on immigration as President Joe Biden, a Democrat the ad blames for a “flood of immigrants” at the border.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry talking to reporters in US Capitol
U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-NE, in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

“Flood supported giving taxpayer funded benefits to illegal immigrants, and Flood tried to raise our gas taxes by 30 cents a gallon,” said Fortenberry’s ad.

Flood, in a new television ad, features a rural sheriff, Todd Volk of Madison County, saying that Fortenberry has “lied” about the state senator’s record on immigration and law and order.

“The truth? Mike is a law and order conservative,” Volk said. “He opposed instate tuition for illegal immigrants.”

  Flood’s recent announcement that he will challenge Fortenberry has ramped up the race in the eastern Nebraska district. 

State Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk
State Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk
(Courtesy of Flood for Congress)

Fortenberry, who has represented the district since 2005, is fighting for his political life after being charged with three felony counts alleging that he misled federal investigators probing illegal campaign contributions from a foreigner.

Flood’s new ad leads by reminding voters of the criminal indictments. The state senator, as well as Gov. Pete Ricketts and former Gov. Dave Heineman, have said Republicans risk losing the 1st District seat if Fortenberry is the nominee.

Fortenberry, meanwhile, has denied the prosecutors’ allegation and has insisted that he continues to “fight” for his issues, despite temporarily stepping down from committee work in the House.

The congressman has attacked Flood for leading the effort, and siding with liberal groups, to override the 2012 veto by Heineman of a bill that provided state-paid prenatal care for immigrants. Their children become U.S. citizens upon birth. 

Flood argued it was a pro-life imperative to provide the care because it would prevent costly birth defects. He added  that his effort was backed by Nebraska’s leading right-to-life organizations.

In a related development, federal prosecutors just filed an objection to a request by Fortenberry’s lawyers to move his trial out of California and to Nebraska, where COVID-19 restrictions have not shut down trials.

Prosecutors, in a brief filed Tuesday, said Fortenberry has relied on “unsupported generalizations” in arguing that he wouldn’t get a fair trial before a “heavily Democratic” California jury.


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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. He started his career reporting for the Omaha Sun and later, editing the Papillion Times group in suburban Omaha. He joined the Lincoln Journal-Star as a sports enterprise reporter, and then a roving reporter covering southeast Nebraska. In 1990, he was hired by the Omaha World-Herald as a legislative reporter. Later, for 15 years, he roamed the state covering all kinds of news and feature stories. In the past decade, he served as chief of the Lincoln Bureau and enterprise reporter. Paul has won awards for reporting from Great Plains Journalism, the Associated Press, Nebraska Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.