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State Sen. Dan Watermeier and Christa Yoakum will go head-to-head for the District 1 seat on the Nebraska Public Service Commission in November after easily outdistancing their respective fields in Tuesday's primary.

Watermeier, the Republican winner of Tuesday's primary, more than doubled up the vote totals of his opponents, Ron Nolte of Plattsmouth and Scott Smathers of Lincoln, capturing 59 percent of the vote.

On the Democratic side, Yoakum led in the vote count from the time the polls closed, easily gaining more than three out of every four votes cast over John Atkeison of Lincoln.

The winner in November's general election will represent Lancaster, Gage, Cass, Otoe, Johnson, Nemaha, Pawnee and Richardson counties on the five-member Public Service Commission for a six-year term.

While the commission regulates telecommunications carriers, natural gas utilities, major oil pipelines and railroad safety among other issues, the Keystone XL pipeline emerged as a hot-button issue during the campaign.

Watermeier, a farmer from Syracuse who cast himself as the conservative candidate for the commission during the campaign, declined to say if he supported the pipeline, saying it could come before the board once again.

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Yoakum, a program coordinator at Nebraska Appleseed, opposed the pipeline along with the alternate route proposed by the PSC last year.

In District 3, Republican Tim Schram and Democrat Mike Forsythe, both of whom ran unopposed, will advance to the general election.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS.

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Higher education reporter

Chris Dunker covers higher education, state government and the intersection of both.

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