John Ewing Jr. isn't letting the electoral fate of the last Democrat to run against Republican U.S. Rep. Lee Terry deter him from a congressional bid.
Ewing, the Douglas County treasurer, believes he has the résumé to unseat Terry, a seven-term congressman who won his last re-election race with 61 percent of the vote.
"My executive experience and proven fiscal responsibility is something that will resonate with voters," said Ewing, 50, a high-ranking officer with the Omaha Police Department before entering politics in 2006.
Ewing plans to officially unveil his campaign for the Omaha-based 2nd Congressional District on Monday. He says he will run as an independent-minded Democrat who wants to reduce the budget deficit by cutting spending and pushing for the repeal of former President George W. Bush's tax cuts.
Ewing is the first Democrat into the race, and he is widely perceived as having the backing of the Nebraska Democratic Party. His entry comes after the last Democrat to challenge Terry, former state Sen. Tom White, was trounced at the polls despite some early success raising money and attacking Terry.
Terry already has begun to restock his war chest for an eighth run for Congress. He raised $358,000 in the second quarter of this year, ending June with $212,000 in the bank.
Ewing will not be Terry's only opponent. Financial adviser and fellow Republican Brett Lindstrom, 30, of Omaha announced last month that he would try to unseat Terry in the primary.
Ewing plans to put his experience as a police officer and county official at the fore of his campaign.
Ewing served 24 years on the city's police force, retiring in 2006 at the rank of deputy chief. He then made his first bid for public office, mounting a successful run against GOP County Treasurer Julie Haney.
On the police force, Ewing says he worked in the financial department.
During his years as county treasurer, Ewing says he has worked to make it easier for taxpayers to register their vehicles and renew their driver's license via the Internet. He also says he has had to reduce his budget by 4 percent in each of the past two years in response to tight economic times.
His ability to cut spending will come in handy in Washington, said Ewing.
Ewing staked out some clear political differences with Terry, notably on the budget and Social Security.
Ewing said he believes the nation's budget deficit should be reduced through a combination of spending cuts and increases in revenue, notably by rolling back Bush's tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which were due to expire at the end of 2010.
Terry supported the extension of those tax cuts and has said he opposes any tax increases to balance the budget.
Ewing said the Bush tax cuts "significantly" contributed to the nation's deficit by reducing revenue without corresponding cuts in spending.
He also said he objected strongly to a budget-cutting plan backed by Terry and his fellow House Republicans. The plan put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would have changed Medicare into a voucher-like system while cutting other programs.
Terry supported the Ryan plan. Ewing said he would have opposed it.
"The Ryan budget plan ... would have balanced the budget on the backs of our elderly and our middle class," said Ewing.
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