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Lee Terry is going back to Washington for his eighth U.S. House term, but you wouldn't have known it at his election party Tuesday night.
He wasn't happy about how close the election was against Democrat John Ewing.
Election night was longer and more nerve-wracking than Terry would have liked.
He trailed in Douglas County in unofficial returns, so it took a Republican firewall in Sarpy County to bail him out in the Omaha-based 2nd Congressional District.
Both candidates stumbled at key moments in the campaign.
Terry maintained a 4-to-1 fundraising advantage, which allowed him to aggressively reach out to voters through television ads, mailers and phone calls.
It also helped insulate the congressman from his mistakes, most notably an ad that inaccurately quoted a nonprofit advocacy group in one of his TV ads.
“I think we're going to take a hard look at this campaign,” he said Tuesday night.
Terry, 50, was elected in 1998 after serving several years on the Omaha City Council.
Voters have consistently sent him back, but his campaigns have become increasingly competitive.
Ewing came about as close to toppling Terry as Jim Esch did in 2008 — and Esch received national help from the Democratic Party.
If Ewing, 51, runs again, national and local donors are more likely to pour money into his campaign.
But he didn't seem excited about the possibility Tuesday night.
“My initial thought is no, to be perfectly honest,” Ewing said. “But I don't know if I can give you a complete answer on that.”
Ewing, the Douglas County treasurer, was expected to be a serious challenger for Terry, but the Democrat's campaign faltered several times.
Perhaps the race's defining moment came after the May primary.
Ewing beat State Sen. Gwen Howard and — instead of capitalizing on that victory — promptly took a break from fundraising.
He started up again at the end of June, but by the end of the fundraising quarter he'd only raised $300,000 to Terry's $1.3 million.
After that, Ewing didn't gain much traction.
With his victory, Terry will become the longest-serving Omaha congressman.
Though he's been through many elections, this was a special one for Terry.
His son Nolan turned 18 this year. And after watching his father legislate for almost his whole life, Nolan got a chance to vote for him this year.
Terry's relatives and supporters gathered at the German-American Society to watch election results.
But the party had thinned considerably by the time Terry took the stage.
He said he's looking forward to working with Republican Sen.-elect Deb Fischer.
“We need to quit spending money we don't have,” he said. “We need to balance our budget, or at least have a darn plan to balance our budget.”
Terry serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and he's looking forward to chairing a subcommittee.
He also hopes to work more on issues like the so-called fiscal cliff, which could threaten many Americans' jobs.
“There's too many families out there that are hurting, that really need those jobs,” he said.
Terry will tie, with Virginia Smith, for the honor of being the third longest-serving congressman in the history of Nebraska.
He'd be behind Doug Bereuter of the 1st District, who served for 25 years before retiring in 2004, and the former 6th District's Moses Kinkaid, who served 19 years until he died in 1922.
Had Ewing won, he would have been the district's first black congressman.
“This has been an awesome journey,” Ewing said. “I've grown tremendously. We were a small and mighty team. We fought hard for you.”
Among Ewing's supporters was his old grade school principal, Warren Taylor.
The 86-year-old Taylor said he was thrilled to get to vote for his former charge. Ewing, he said, was among a cadre of inner city kids who went onto have successful careers.
Nebraska's two other Republican House representatives, Adrian Smith and Jeff Fortenberry, won re-election handily.
LEE TERRY'S ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES
BREAKING DOWN THE VOTE
Click on the precincts below to see results.