Incumbent Sen. Laura Ebke ran second in her District 32 bid to return to the Nebraska Legislature. She said Tuesday night she expects a tussle in the next few months leading up to the general election.
Jefferson County farmer Tom Brandt led the pack of three candidates in that district by a good margin and will challenge Ebke in November. District 32 encompasses five counties and includes the southwest corner of Lancaster County.
Gov. Pete Ricketts' pick, Al Riskowski, finished last and will not advance. He felt good about running a clean race, he said, even though all three District 32 candidates said they had to contend with negative ads, some of them funded by out-of-state groups, with messages that had nothing to do with the election.
Brandt, who said he's a rural Republican, a centrist and independent thinker, has been active in community improvement in his hometown of Plymouth. He said voters want someone who will truly represent farmers and small towns.
People in his district are fed up with what's going on in the Legislature, the growing partisanship and nothing of substance getting done, he said.
Ebke, a Libertarian who is from Crete, stressed her four years of experience in the Legislature.
"I think that the hit pieces had a real weakening effect on me," she said.
She lost some of the rural vote she needed, she said. "Now it's up to me to go and get them back."
In the District 30 race Myron Dorn of Adams and Don Schuller of Wymore will advance. In the general election, they said, they will continue to talk to voters about their concerns over high property taxes and fair funding for schools.
Dorn earlier this month had addressed negative ads against him that claimed he’d voted twice to give himself a raise on the Gage County Board and that he’d paid his property taxes late on multiple occasions. He said those claims were untrue.
Dorn, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, a farmer and Republican, said he had good name recognition from his public service and people recognized his leadership and ability to get things done.
Schuller, a Democrat, farms and runs a small conservation survey and design business. He said he thinks the voters in the district are ready for a strong, independent leader who will fight for working families. His message will not change, he said.
"What I believe in is our independent Legislature, and that we work together to do what's best for Nebraskans," Schuller said.
Joe Murray finished third in District 30 and will not advance to the general election.