U.S. Rep. Don Bacon has been named to a list of most vulnerable House Republican incumbents, a signal that Nebraska’s 2nd District will once again be a political battleground.
The special Republican effort, called the “Patriot Program,” asks party donors to direct funds to incumbent campaigns. The congressmen also get additional staff and support for more extensive advertising campaigns from the National Republican Congressional Committee, the GOP’s House campaign arm. Bacon is one of 10 people named to the list.
Of the others on the list, four are from Texas. Josh Blank, the manager of polling at the nonpartisan Texas Politics Project, said Republicans are playing defense in suburban districts that are seeing a big influx of younger, more diverse voters who can’t afford to live in increasingly popular and expensive city centers.
“It’s that type of growth that is making Democrats more competitive in the suburbs,” Blank said.
Nebraska’s 2nd District somewhat fits that profile.
Bacon, who won his first reelection bid last year in a close race against political newcomer Kara Eastman, noted in a statement from his campaign that the district is historically one of the closest in the country.
“Don has a strong record of accomplishment, energetic support in the community and has proven he can be pragmatic and work across the aisle,” said political director Kyle Clark.
Bacon won by less than 2 percentage points in a district that encompasses Douglas and western Sarpy Counties. With those numbers, the larger political climate and particularly the presidential election, enough voters could be swayed to show up — or stay home — to shift the outcome.
On the Democratic side, Eastman wants another shot at challenging Bacon. She’s aiming to be the progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Nebraska. And Ann Ashford, a lawyer whose husband previously held the seat, is running on a platform of working together. Two others have said they intend to run and more announcements could still be coming.
Eastman said she’s not surprised that the NRCC would consider Bacon to be vulnerable but said she’s focused on 2nd District voters.
“In 2020, we expect that our paying attention to issues that matter in the district like health care access and Social Security will help us win,” she said. “We are taking no votes for granted.”
Ashford said she expects national Democrats to support the nominee as they have in previous years.
“They want the best person to win,” she said, and added: “I am that person.”
This report contains material from McClatchy.