Nebraska GOP picks Flood to face Pansing Brooks in June 28 special election

Winner will represent 1st Congressional District for remainder of former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s term

By: - April 9, 2022 11:44 am

State Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk speaks during the news conference announcing him as the Nebraska Republican Party’s nominee for the June 28 special election to fill out the remainder of former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s term. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — This June’s special election to finish out the last six months of former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s term has a Republican nominee: former Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood.

The executive committee of the Nebraska Republican Party, about 30 Republicans from across the state, chose Flood Saturday to take on fellow State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, a Democrat.

Flood handily beat Air Force retiree John Glen Weaver, 24-5.

Flood, in a letter and a brief speech to the committee members, watching in person and online, said the focus needs to be firing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat.

He highlighted his business experience and his work in the Legislature cutting taxes and fighting abortion, which he said is closer now to being made illegal than it has been in decades.

“It is urgent that we nominate a Republican candidate who can win the upcoming special election, win in May and November and help Republicans take back the House,” Flood wrote.

In a news conference after securing the nomination, Flood said Nebraskans want Congress to focus on inflation, border security, strengthening the military and protecting families.

Weaver wrote to committee members, as well, saying Nebraska Republicans want a “political outsider” to face “a strong Democratic challenger.”

Weaver told the committee Nebraska needs “a new, fresh perspective.” He said Republicans would win the seat no matter who they pick, so conservatives should pick who they like best.

Flood, of Norfolk, returned to the Legislature in 2020 after serving two terms from 2005-2013. Pansing Brooks is serving her second term since joining the Legislature in 2015.

Flood challenged Fortenberry after federal prosecutors charged the nine-term GOP congressman with lying to the FBI about illegal foreign campaign funds raised for his campaign.

Fortenberry was convicted of three felonies in March, including trying to hide the donations. His sentencing is scheduled for June 28, the same day Nebraska holds its special election for his replacement.

J.L. Spray, a Lincoln lawyer and national GOP committee member, said the special election is important because it could give the winner an edge in seniority over all other first-term House members in 2023. Seniority matters in congressional committees, creating a pecking order toward leadership of subcommittees and committees.

Nebraska GOP Chairman Dan Welch said he expects Flood to beat Pansing Brooks, describing her as too liberal for the state. Pansing Brooks has said Nebraskans deserve more than the politics of division and fear.

Voters in Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District, which includes Lincoln, Bellevue and much of eastern Nebraska outside Omaha, are presented with three elections this year:

  • The May 10 primary will decide which candidates move on to the traditional November general election.
  • The June 28 special election will decide who finishes out Fortenberry’s term, which ends in January.
  • The Nov. 8 general election will decide which candidate serves a two-year term in the House of Representatives starting next year.

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Aaron Sanderford
Aaron Sanderford

Political reporter Aaron Sanderford has tackled various news roles in his 20-plus year career. He has reported on politics, crime, courts, government and business for the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal-Star. He also worked as an assignment editor and editorial writer. He was an investigative reporter at KMTV.