Skip to comments.Rep. Lee Terry faces challenge early
Posted on 07/27/2009 6:08:29 AM PDT by stan_sipple
Rep. Lee Terry hardly had time to return to his Washington office after winning his sixth term in November before being confronted with challengers for 2010.
With that election a year and a half out, the Nebraska Republican is already finding himself a target of Democrats hoping to gain control of his 2nd Congressional District seat.
Democratic state Sen. Tom White of Omaha announced earlier this month that he is forming an exploratory committee to consider a run against Terry.
Also this summer, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aired a radio ad critical of Terry's vote against a $106 billion emergency war bill under the Obama administration. The ad noted Terry had supported funding for troops under George W. Bush's presidency and that Republicans had been quick to criticize anyone who voted against the troop-funding supplementals.
"Barack Obama did win the district," said DCCC spokeswoman Gabby Adler. "The demographics of this city are changing. The voting preference of this city is changing."
University of Nebraska at Omaha political science professor Randall Adkins said that both parties will perceive Terry as vulnerable.
"So while the Democrats may come after him, Republicans will be more likely to support him," he added.
Indeed, Republicans have already responded. The National Republican Congressional Committee has added Terry to its incumbent retention effort, giving him an opportunity to participate in a fall fundraiser that could add to his war chest. A similar fundraiser in June brought in nearly $100,000 in contributions for each of the program's 10 participants.
"Lee Terry is taking his re-election seriously and is building an effective campaign to help him do it," said the RNCC's Paul Lindsay.
Dave Boomer, campaign spokesman for Terry, said that by next year's election, Republicans will have had time to distance themselves from an unpopular GOP president and many of the nation's woes will be "owned" by a new Democratic president.
"We've already shown we can get hit with the best and survive," Boomer said. "If they really, really target us, we're ready for them."
Nevertheless, the GOP has challenges to overcome. President Obama's popularity could carry into next year, and the Democrats will still hold control of Congress. And last fall, for the first time in 14 years, more Democrats than Republicans registered to vote in Douglas County, which is home to Omaha and makes up a large chunk of the district.
Nebraska's two other House seats are also held by Republicans. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who holds the Lincoln-based 1st District seat, so far faces no serious challenge for 2010. Rep. Adrian Smith, whose vast 3rd District covers the central and western part of the state, faces a challenge from Democrat Rebekah Davis of Alliance, a political unknown. That race has drawn little national attention.
Terry has faced increasingly formidable challenges in his last two elections. Democrat Jim Esch gave Terry a fright in 2006, initially leading in polls before eventually losing by about 9 percentage points. Esch launched a rematch in 2008, and came within 4 percentage points of knocking the incumbent off.
Anyone who wins by less than 5 percentage points is perceived nationally as being vulnerable, Adkins said.
"So what it means is, we can expect at least in the next election cycle or two to see some competition here."
And Democrats aren't the only ones getting in on the act. Republican businessman Matt Sakalosky announced earlier this year that he'll run against Terry in the 2010 primary election. Sakalosky said he is disappointed with some of Terry's votes, including one for Bush's $700 billion bank bailout last year.
Still, Adkins said Terry has a number of factors working in his favor. One is that Esch's challenges forced the incumbent to improve his campaign organization.
Adkins noted that Terry also is no longer "saddled with Bush," whose approval ratings hovered around 25 percent during last year's election. Also, Republicans still outnumber Democrats among the district's registered voters by about 7,000.
"I think the negatives he's had to deal with in recent election cycles are gone. Now the issue is: There aren't any positives for him to pick up on," Adkins said. "He can't ride Barack Obama's popularity to office. Being in the minority party, he can't claim credit for legislation that the Democrats are passing. His position becomes that of: He's there to help stop the Democrats from doing things that voters in the district do not think is a good idea."
Rep. Terry needs to fight hard and dirty to keep his seat.
Since Maobama is our first “post-racial” president, why didnt he campaign harder in the 3rd district?
“President Obamas coatails will destroy the Crats in 2010.
There is a big difference in dynamics between a presidential election year and a mid-term election. The fact that Obama won the district and the rep still won by 4 points should be discouraging to the Dems, not the reverse. Since the rep won by 9 points in the last mid-term, and Obama’s “high level of popularity” is declining, I think re-election is highly likely. Good to see the national committee might help, though...
This idea comes from the result of the last election where BO received just enough votes in Sarpy county that it can be said that the county went for the democrats. I’m a bit suspicious of the count anyway considering all of the illegals who have pushed in lately. It could also be from the nitwits who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for McCain and so they sat out the vote, giving it over to BO. I know a few and thanks to them all. The dems are a little too giddy and figure their lies about Terry will sway the large retired military population here. My advice to his potential opponent; stay away from my door because you’ll get a less cordial reception than you are used to. That said, he needs to get out there early and pound sand up the dems arse as often as possible.
We, the people of Nebraska, need to work hard to make sure Lee Terry is re-elected. I know that I will be!!!
im a 1st district voter and did not give my vote away to mccain, straight gop vote otherwise
Frankly, I’d like to see Terry primaried.
“Matt Sakolosky is the Right man for District 2”
Indeed he is. Lee Terry is a two-faced weasel and we’d be better off without him.
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