Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing entered the 2nd District House race Monday, presenting the latest Democratic challenge to Republican Rep. Lee Terry.

"We need Congress to cut spending significantly, and we need a tax system that doesn't put the special interests first," Ewing said in announcing his candidacy for the 2012 Democratic nomination.

Members of Congress are placing "petty partisanship, ideology and their own personal agendas ahead of the taxpayers," he said.

Terry, he said, has failed to provide any leadership in the House or on behalf of his metropolitan Omaha district.

"Lee Terry's voice is silent," Ewing said. "I want to be part of the discussion that helps shape the future instead of following everyone else."

Dave Boomer, Terry's campaign manager, said Ewing "wants to repeal the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that provide tax relief to virtually every segment of society," thus raising the tax load on individuals and families."

But Ewing said that is not his position, despite a published report to the contrary.

"My thought is that, while there certainly is room for some negotiation, those tax cuts should be repealed only for millionaires, those making over $1 million a year," he said in a telephone interview.

Boomer said: "Raising taxes is exactly the wrong thing to do right now and could throw our economy back into recession. Lee Terry wants to address the debt problem by cutting federal spending; Mr. Ewing wants to do it by raising our taxes."

Ewing said both parties in Congress "should be working to reduce the budget deficit because it is one of the biggest threats to America.

"So stop the partisan politics," he said, "and get it done." 

Ewing, 50, enters the race as a twice-elected Douglas County officeholder -- the district also includes portions of Sarpy County -- and as an African-American who is likely to be running on a ticket headed by President Barack Obama, who won the 2nd District presidential electoral vote in 2008.

Obama benefited from a surge of young voters, first-time and occasional voters, and voters of color.

Ewing was an officer in the Omaha Police Department for more than 24 years, rising to the rank of deputy police chief. He was elected county treasurer in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.

Terry, who won re-election handily last year, will be seeking his eighth term in a district whose boundaries were changed by the Legislature this year in response to 2010 census figures. The new district will be slightly more Republican.

Reach Don Walton at 402-473-7248 or at dwalton@journalstar.com.

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