Brad Ashford debate

Brad Ashford participates in a 2nd Congressional District debate in 2018.

Former 2nd District Rep. Brad Ashford was hospitalized last week for a backup of fluid that was caused by blood clots in his lungs.

Ashford, 69, is out of the hospital now and is being monitored.

His brief stay also led to a dust-up between his wife, who is running for his former seat, and a Republican official.

Ashford said he had been struggling with the blood clot problem for about a year and a half. Last year he got some medications that he thought had fixed the blood clot, he said.

But the avid runner had continued to struggle — he’d been unable to run while this issue went on.

Ann Ashford mug

Ann Ashford

Around Easter the issue flared up again. Last Tuesday, his wife, Ann Ferlic Ashford, found him on the ground too dizzy to get up. She called an ambulance.

Doctors told him that his heart wasn’t beating properly, which was causing fluid to back up, and that was affecting his organs, Ashford said — all caused by the blood clots.

He returned home Saturday and is on new medication for the blood clots.

A friend asked if the incident was a wake-up call.

“I said it’s more a realization how important your health is to you, and it’s so easy to just waltz through life and think whatever you have’s gonna get better and not rely on health care professionals,” he said.

Ashford, a Democrat, represented the metro area in Congress for one term in 2015 and 2016 and ran unsuccessfully for his former seat in 2018. He’s also a former state senator.

Ann Ashford is now running in the Democratic primary for Ashford’s old seat. Last year’s nominee, Kara Eastman, is also running to retake the seat, along with a handful of other candidates. The winner will most likely face Republican Rep. Don Bacon.

Ashford’s convalescence also led to a brief dust-up between his wife and the chairman of the Omaha Young Republicans.

Derek Oden tweeted from the Omaha Young Republicans account about Saturday’s Cinco de Mayo parade: “It’s a shame to not see (Eastman) or (Ann Ashford) at the Cinco De Mayo Parade .... are you guys even running for Congress?”

The tweet was retweeted by the Nebraska GOP.

Ann Ashford replied: “Not that it’s your business but I am at Nebraska Medicine with my husband awaiting his discharge. Careful about snarkiness without knowing what happens in another’s life.”

Oden, who is also the executive director of the Douglas County Republican Party, said from that account: “With all due respect, you could’ve had a team here. The parade has been scheduled for months. There’s apparently only one candidate in this race with true grassroots support.”

In an interview Monday, Oden said he did not know that Brad Ashford was in the hospital and that he was glad to hear that the former congressman was feeling better.

He said parades and other similar campaign events are important interactions with potential constituents.

Ann Ashford said she had planned to attend the parade and meet people — though not be in the parade — before her husband became ill.

Eastman confirmed that she wasn’t at the Cinco de Mayo parade Saturday. And she said parade attendance doesn’t necessarily mean a candidate better understands voters.

“Parades aren’t actually getting anything accomplished in Congress,” Eastman said. “Leave Ann alone and let her take care of her husband.”

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