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Campbell, Bostar advance in Lincoln legislative contest
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Campbell, Bostar advance in Lincoln legislative contest

Legislative districts, Lancaster County, Lincoln

A higher than usual primary election voter turnout saw incumbents carry the day in most races for the Nebraska Legislature on Tuesday, with tight races among challengers in some districts.  

It was a bizarre campaign season in which candidates had to retreat indoors because of the coronavirus. And at least two Lincoln races saw candidates have to suspend their personal campaigning because one, Joseph Couch in District 21, had his National Guard unit called into active duty, and another, Michael Connely, in District 29, got quarantined in a foreign country. 

Jacob Campbell

Jacob Campbell, District 29 legislative candidate.

Eliot Bostar

Eliot Bostar, District 29 legislative candidate.

In the District 29 race, which had six candidates trying to advance to the general election to replace Sen. Kate Bolz, who was term-limited, Jacob Campbell was the front-runner and will advance with Eliot Bostar. 

Campbell, 29, a registered Republican in the nonpartisan legislative race, is a military veteran, owner of a property management business and legislative aide for Sen. Ben Hansen. He is the conservative choice in this race. 

Campbell said he announced his candidacy a year ago and as such was able to get to a lot of doors to connect with voters in the district before most candidates had to resort to telephone calls and other means of campaigning. 

Voters in the southeast Lincoln district will have the choice of two candidates for the general election who have great differences.  

"I think it means people are very passionate and very focused on the things that are meaningful to them," Campbell said. 

And so he will make it a point to listen to those voters who chose other candidates in the primary to find out the best way to represent them, as well, he said. 

Bostar, 33, said he and Campbell will give District 29 voters a clear choice. He is a Democrat, and executive director of Conservation Nebraska and Nebraska Conservation Voters, and backed by environmental funders. 

He said he cares about all views among voters in the district, and is committed to listening and bringing people together. 

"You can't get anything done by yourself," he said. "I think we've been working really hard to do that since we started this campaign about a year ago. And we're going to continue to do that."

Bostar eclipsed all other candidates in fundraising for the primary campaign, collecting $170,000 and spending about $113,000. 

Mike Hilgers

State Sen. Mike Hilgers

Brodey Weber

Brodey Weber, District 21 legislative candidate.

In District 21, incumbent Mike Hilgers got the majority of votes, followed by Brodey Weber, who got the second-highest vote total among the three candidates to advance to the general election. 

Hilgers, 41, who is a registered Republican, was elected to serve District 21 in 2016 and is the chairman of the Executive Board, which oversees the operations of the Legislature. He previously was chairman of the Rules Committee.

He's an attorney and founded Hilgers Graben PLLC.

Weber, 22, who is a registered Democrat, is vice president of client relations for Mid America Casing Supply in Air Park, and a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in communications studies.

Weber said it made a difference in his campaign to be able to adapt well after the virus forced a change from reaching out to voters personally, transitioning from door knocking to phone calls and social media. 

He was able to succeed in the primary, he said, even with a smaller campaign, joined by family and friends. And he now has the backing of the teachers and labor unions, he said, which will help carry him in the general election. 

Julie Slama

State Sen. Julie Slama of Peru

Janet Palmtag

Janet Palmtag, District 1 legislative candidate.

In southeast Nebraska's District 1 Julie Slama of Peru, 23, advanced to seek a full four-year term after being appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts to fill a vacancy in the district in December 2018. She gained a large majority of the vote Tuesday to help carry her into the general election. 

She will be opposed by challenger Janet Palmtag in the district that includes Otoe, Johnson, Nemaha, Pawnee and Richardson counties. Palmtag edged out Dennis Schaardt in the District 1 race. 

Palmtag has said the district would be better served by someone with more experience in business and life. She is a longtime real estate agent from Nebraska City who has run two companies, raised a family and understands the issues the state faces for education and strengthening our rural communities, she said.

In other Lincoln area races, incumbents Suzanne Geist in District 25 and Anna Wishart in District 27 gained the majority of votes with what looked like more than 70% of the vote. Geist will oppose Stephany Pleasant in the general election and Wishart's opponent will be Brenda Bickford. 

Election coverage: Key legislative races could alter balance of power
Legislative challenger Palmtag answers attacks by her own party

Election results

Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or

On Twitter @LJSLegislature


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