Terry re-elected to House in close race

­By Breanna Warren

U.S. Rep. Lee Terry was re-elected to represent Nebraska’s 2nd district in the House of Representatives for his eighth term this week.

In a race that was closely contested by Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing Jr., the Republican incumbent won with 128,307 votes, or 51 percent, to the Democratic challenger’s 122,452 votes, or 49 percent. 

More than 200 people joined Terry throughout the evening Tuesday to celebrate election night at the German American Society, 3717 S. 120 St., beginning at 6:30 p.m. and continuing well past 10 p.m.

Throughout the evening, attendees surrounded TV sets in the main hall showing national and local election news coverage, waiting in anticipation as the results trickled in throughout the night. A band loft above the hall floor featured music by a local jazz band, Lunch With Mike, while children tossed balloons over the heads of attendees.

When the results came in at 11 p.m. projecting Terry ahead with 52 percent of the vote, the remaining attendees cheered alongside a smiling Terry as he gave his acceptance speech. 

“I do want to say now, at this point, that John Ewing did a really good job in this campaign,” Terry said. “He worked pretty hard these last couple months. John and I went to high school together. We were acquaintances then, and hopefully our friendship can be rekindled here in the next few days now with the race over.” 

Terry and Ewing both graduated from Omaha Northwest High School.

A Terry supporter said the race was about more than personalities.

“I support (Terry) over Ewing because fiscal conservatism is my biggest issue,” said Vernon Joseph, 33. “The federal government needs to cut spending and reduce the deficit because it’s going to be our kids’ future that’s going to pay for that, and Lee Terry is the guy who can help. He’s been doing that the last 14 years, and he’s going to keep doing that.”

Terry, 50, was first elected to the House in 1998 after serving several years on the Omaha City Council. He is the vice chair of the subcommittee of communications and technology. Terry also serves on the House committee on energy and commerce, the subcommittee of energy and power and the subcommittee of oversight and investigation.

Nebraska’s two other members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Adrian Smith and Jeff Fortenberry, were also re-elected. Both are Republican.

Chambers wins a return to legislature

By Brianna Ebel

Term limits kept Ernie Chambers out of the Nebraska Legislature for the past four years

after serving 38 years representing north Omaha’s District 11. However, that’s no longer the case.

He’s headed back to Lincoln.

Chambers, a nonpartisan, won over incumbent state senator Brenda Council in a landslide Tuesday. Chambers bested Council, who was backed by the state Democratic Party, 67 percent to 33 percent, a 2-1 margin.

“Council is an excellent candidate, who’s done a good job, is well-known and well liked,” said Paul Landow, a Political Science professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. But Landow went on to say that Chambers had the edge because of his popularity throughout the district.

He said it was a tough race and campaign for both candidates.

The May primary election showed Chambers won, but only by a slim margin. In September, Council was convicted of two misdemeanors for misspending campaign funds at casinos and filing false documents.

Chambers spoke to people from District 11 on Saturday at a campaign rally. He said that by charging her with just a misdemeanor instead of a felony, Council was able to stay in office and remain in the race.

“People were more concerned about keeping me out of office, then getting her out of office,” said Chambers.

Council released political print ads at the end of October which said, “I’ve done more for North Omaha in four years, than he’s done in 38 years.”

Tekle Agbala Ali Johnson, of the Cultural Preservation Committee, said it’s hypocritical of Council to say that when Chambers helped pass legislation during his time as senator that helped her political career flourish. The legislation obtained district elections for school board, city council and county board, resulting in the elections of African-Americans for the first time.

“You don’t stand on the head of your ancestors. You stand on their shoulders,” said Johnson.

Landow said that even as the incumbent Council had an uphill climb.

“You would have to go some to convince the residents of that legislative district that that was the truth,” said Landow about Council’s advertisement. “Sen. Chambers was widely respected, well-liked, highly regarded for many, many years.”

Landow went on to say that this set the bar very high for Council to get over. Council said at her election night party that she ran the campaign she wanted to run and focused of the issues of the district. Even though she doesn’t have the platform of the legislature, she said she’s going to continue to work with groups in the neighborhood, such as the Empowerment Network, to reduce poverty, create jobs and bring businesses to her community.

Chambers said at his rally that this election was a battle for the heart and soul of his community.

“I treat people the way I want to be treated,” Chamber said. “Nobody can treat me better than I would treat them. And I will not back off or bite my tongue to get along with anybody if there’s something that I feel I’m supposed to say and something I’m supposed to do.”

Fischer soundly defeats Kerrey

By Nate Tenopir

In an election where the establishment on both sides fought for Nebraska’s

empty seat in the U.S. Senate, it was the long-shot rancher from Valentine that ruled the day. Nine months after Deb Fischer was barely a part of the race, she earned a clear victory against Bob Kerrey and became the next senator from Nebraska.

With 97 percent of precincts reporting late Tuesday night, Fischer was declared the victor by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin, defeating Nebraska’s former governor and U.S. senator, by more than 122,000 votes.

“I look around this room, and I see so many volunteers from the very beginning,” Fischer said at her victory party at the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln. “You folks were here for me when we weren’t given much of a chance at all. Well, we formed a great grassroots organization. We worked hard, and hey, we’re here today.”

Fischer’s campaign got a boost after the primary with support of U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns and Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman.

“She won because she stood for the right things,” Heineman said. “What me and Deb did in this state is a balanced budget, lowering taxes, controlling spending…all the things we care about. And she ran a positive campaign.”

Johanns echoed the same sentiment.

“What an incredible campaign she ran from the primary right up to the general election,” Johanns said. “The thing that I’m most proud of though is that Deb ran a positive campaign. Everyone here tonight and across this state can stand with Deb tonight and say ‘Deb, we’re proud of the campaign you ran.’”

Immediately after Fischer won the Republican primary and the opportunity to face Kerrey in the general election, Rasmussen Reports had Fischer ahead by 18 points. But newer polls by the Omaha World Herald and local TV channel KHAS in Kearney days before the election put the race within three to five points, and within the margin of error.

 “She carried herself with such dignity,” former governor of Nebraska Kay Orr said. “She made us very, very proud because she taught the people of this state that you can win by taking the high road.”

And those were the ideas that filled Fischer’s victory speech. Fischer told a packed room of enthusiastic voters that the prosperity of the nation must be based on principles. She called those principles the principles that are held by all Nebraskans – liberty, freedom and justice. Fischer also highlighted personal responsibility, hard work, community and a renewed respect for the life for all Americans.

“The dignity of that young mother in Grand Island, working to raise to her family while her husband is off fighting for us,” Fischer said. “The dignity of grandparents in McCook, who have settled down and invested in their community.

“The dignity of the entrepreneur in Omaha, using his or her unique gifts, hard work and willingness to take risks in creating new jobs for all Nebraskans. The dignity of that beginning farmer in Aurora, bringing new life from the land.”

Fischer said her belief in those first principles rise from the recognition that we’re all in this together as Nebraskans and Americans.

“Nebraska is truly a special place, and Nebraskans are truly a special people,” Fischer said. “We expect our local officials that are elected to higher public office to share the same experiences that we share.

“We expect our elected officials to listen and to vote for us in Washington the way they talk to us at home. We expect our elected officials to be one of us. I stand with you here tonight and I will stand for you and fight for you in Washington.”

Along the way to victory, Fischer defied the odds at every turn. Few, if any, gave her a chance when Fischer announced her campaign more than a year ago.

She began as a relative unknown next to Nebraska Attorney General John Bruning and State Treasurer Don Stenberg. When Public Policy Polling released its numbers in March, Fischer was a distant third, polling at just 12 percent.

At the time, 60 percent of Nebraskans said they didn’t know enough about Fischer to form an opinion on her campaign. The Republican establishment in Nebraska spent almost $3 million in favor of Bruning, and Stenberg received nearly the same amount from the conservative groups in Washington, D.C.

But Fischer jumped past Stenberg into second place, and an endorsement by Republican favorite Sarah Palin followed. Then the money came.

The weekend before the May primary, Ending Spending Action Fund pumped $200,000 into ad buys in favor of Fischer. When primary election night came Fischer was announced as the winner with 41 percent to Bruning’s 36 percent and Stenberg’s 19.

Now, heading to Washington, Fischer said she and others who will be in Washington have their work cut out for them.

 “These are serious times,” Fischer said. “We can and we must tackle the serious issues before us. Americans are exceptional people. We have the talents, the resources and the knowledge to deal with these serious issues that are before us. We’ve faced tough challenges before and we’ve conquered them. We’ll do it again.“

Kerrey, family gracious in defeat

By Katherine Leszczynski
On Tuesday night, many people who hoped they would get to witness Bob Kerrey’s triumphant
homecoming waited nervously instead for final election results.

Around 10 p.m., they came to grips with the harsh reality – Kerrey lost his bid to re-enter the senate to Republican Deb Fischer.

Kerrey’s election night party, held at Papillion-La Vista Embassy Suites, was filled by 8 p.m. with supporters of all ages watching a big screen and waiting for the election results. They cheered when Democrats were elected to an office and booed when news stations cut to Deb Fischer’s party.

Kerrey’s press secretary, Chris Triebsch, was positive about the eventual outcome of the night.

“We feel really good about what we were able to accomplish,” Triebsch said. “We all have the
momentum going into tonight. We like where we are at right now.”

Triebsch believes Kerrey set himself apart from Fischer in the best way.

“Kerrey brings the bipartisan push we need in Washington,” he said.

But as the night wore on and results started arriving, supporters became a little more nervous.
Campaign workers ran around the ballroom checking results on their smart phones,
laptops and tablet devices.

While some started to face reality, others stayed positive.

Sandra Wilberding, a longtime Kerrey supporter, hadn’t given up hope.

“I’ve been with Bob all this time,” Wilberding said.

She volunteered for his previous campaigns and believes he has what it takes to lead Nebraska.

“I think he is a true blue Nebraskan,” she said. “I’ll be real sad if he loses.”

When Deb Fischer appeared on the big screen to make her victory speech, Kerrey supporters were forced to face the victorious competition.

Moments later, Kerrey, his family, friends and supporters took to the stage and gracefully admitted defeat.

“I know that many of you are, hopefully, disappointed,” Kerrey said, receiving laughs from the
crowd. “I know that losing is not easy. It’s never easy.”

Although Kerrey lost, he still called his opponent on the phone to congratulate her.
He told the crowd, which had people crying over his loss, not to feel hatred toward Fischer and
her supporters, but rather, love.

“Whatever personal animosity you have towards Deb Fischer is a consequence of fighting hard
in this campaign,” he said. “Please try and conquer it. The only behavior you and I can control is our own.”

Kerrey’s 11-year-old son, Henry, seemed particularly sad that his father had lost. He leaned on
Kerrey and looked admiringly at his father throughout the speech, and offered supportive words.

“I want to thank you all for supporting my dad,” Henry said. “Even if Deb Fischer won, it’s okay.”

The crowd cheered at Henry’s positive attitude, and Henry seemed to think that this might not be his father’s last bid for office.

“He can always try again,” Henry said. “When you’re playing a video game, you don’t die
automatically. You get at least three lives.”

While Kerrey did not hint at any future political plans, his son reminded the crowd that he has at least two more lives – whether or not he uses them is up to him.

Hundreds celebrate with Terry

ImageBy Breanna Warren

Shortly after 11 p.m. today, U.S. Rep. Lee Terry was projected as the winner of a re-election bid that was closely contested by Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing Jr.

More than 200 people joined Terry Tuesday night to celebrate election night at the German American Society, 3717 S. 120 St., beginning at 6:30 p.m. and continuing past 10 p.m.

With three TVs showing national and local election news coverage, attendees waited in excitement as results trickled in throughout the night. Children tossed balloons around the hall while the band, Lunch With Mike, played songs throughout the evening.

Terry is running for an eighth term against Democrat John Ewing Jr., the Douglas County Treasurer and as of 10 p.m., had a 4 percent lead over Ewing, 52 percent to 48 percent.

More information on this race can be seen later on Wednesday.

UNO School of Communication students reporting on election

By Jonathan Chandler Heida

I don’t know about you, but when I hear election night I do not picture a bunch of students sitting around dedicating hours of their week night to follow the elections.

Stereo-typical students would be sitting at home waiting to hear about the results of the election tomorrow.

However, UNO’s journalism students are not. These students are combining to provide news to a much greater following than the rest of the UNO community. Their efforts include a live broadcast on NET2 (Cox channel 16), radio broadcasts from KVNO and the blog posts (one of which you are reading now). You can watch the live broadcast from UNO’s campus here http://www.netnebraska.org/interactivemultimedia/news/omaha-news-election-special.

The College of Public Affairs and Community Service (CPACS) is home to many different courses of study and community groups. Tonight it is also home to the School of Communication’s Election Night coverage. Spread throughout the building are close to 100 students, practicing what they have learned in class.

These students represent a diverse group. Journalism, broadcasting, and news editing students are just some of the students dedicating their time to this event. Several faculty are guiding the event, but the vast majority of what you will see is being produced, edited and published by UNO students.

Check out this article, also written edited and published by students about the evening’s activities. http://www.unogateway.com/news/students-to-cover-election-night-news-1.2945009#.UJm4EsXA_u1

Two different TV news room sets are buzzing with activity. From touching up the anchor’s makeup to prompters making sure that scripts are correctly posted, everybody has something to do. Of  the two TV news rooms, one is very production based and the other is being used for reporters to gather stories and updates.

The 20 or so people in the secondary studio are hard at work preparing topics for discussion on both TV sets, and the production/editing efforts are being handled in the primary studio downstairs.

KVNO is also busy preparing for the night’s events. News Director Robyn Wisch has been preparing scripts for the night, which is especially difficult because some of the news has not been made yet. These are more or less scripts to explain what is happening in certain states and why these things are important.

And last but not least, there is a commons room with close to 30 students all writing about different things concerning the night’s events. The room could house just over 100, but there is an element of chaos and discussion that makes the room feel fuller.

There are two projectors at the front of the commons room, each approximately 14 feet, playing audio and video coverage from two different news stations simultaneously—CNN and NBC News—which also adds to the large amount of activity.Image

First-time voters excited for ‘privilege’

By Brittany Redden

For some, the ability to vote comes with a recent 18th birthday celebration. For others, it is the result of long, hard work to prove their worth of being a United States citizen.

As first-time voters take to the polls, they are exercising their newly bestowed right to democracy, and for many it is a long-awaited privilege.

Natalie Tjaden, a 21-year-old first-time voter from Omaha, has had her hand in the 2012 election more than most college students can say. As a volunteer for senators in Nebraska and Missouri, an advocate of Rock the Vote, a voter registration volunteer and poll worker, Tjaden is excited to participate as a voter for the first time in this election.

Some first-time voters question the impact of their individual vote, but Tjaden realizes the importance of letting her voice be heard through democracy.

“If you’re upset about the way the country is, you have the opportunity to change it with your vote,” Tjaden said.

The preparation it takes to be an informed voter can appear daunting, but Tjaden has done all she can to learn about the candidates.

“I make it my goal to read as many news sources as I can and talk to many people with different views,” Tjaden said. “I try to be as informed as possible and try to be objective so I know I am making the right decision for what I believe in.”

For Omaha resident Kevin Holohan, 19, preparation means frustration at the lack of attention from the media given to third party candidates.

“There are a lot of great candidates out there who aren’t millionaires, so they can’t get their message out,” Holohan said. “It’s a shame because I feel like a lot of people would agree with them if they would just listen.”

His views, which are extraneous from the bipartisan norm, make information gathering from classic sources difficult.

“I am a registered libertarian, so the debates didn’t really matter to me,” Holohan said. “But even though I’m not mainstream in my political views, I still am bombarded with the same information as everyone else. It’s exhausting.”

These new voters simply had to wait for their 18th birthday to be granted the right to vote. However for some, voting privileges do not come so easily. Caroline Taylor, 38, came to the United States from Oldham, United Kingdom in 1993.

“I was 19 when I came to the states, however just about a year ago became a proper naturalized U.S. citizen,” Taylor said.

For non-native born Americans such as Taylor, voting is a privilege not to be taken lightly.

“I am lucky to have come from a peaceful country,” Taylor said. “But there are so many out there who would, and have, died for the right to do what I am now able to do.”

The importance of participating in the voting process is not lost on 19-year-old first-time voter Erich Nickman either. “I think about how people in our country’s past fought for the right to vote, which reminds me of how important it is,” Nickman said.

Natalie Tjaden is a strong advocate for exercising one’s right to vote in this and future elections.

“If you care about your life and lifestyle, why wouldn’t you vote?  You vote because you want a change,” Tjaden said. “You vote because there is a cause you are passionate about. You vote because you care about the future of your nation and the life you’re living now.”