Ashford Remembered as Statesman, Friend
By Fred Knapp , Reporter/Producer Nebraska Public Media
April 19, 2022, 4:20 p.m. ·
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Former congressman and state senator Brad Ashford, who died Tuesday after battling brain cancer, is being remembered as a friend and statesman by people on both sides of the political aisle.
Brad Ashford represented a midtown Omaha district for sixteen years in the Nebraska Legislature, from 1987-1995 and again from 2007-2015, and the Omaha-area 2nd Congressional District from 2015-2017. He served variously as a Democrat, Republican, and independent, and adopted a range of policy positions, including support for gun control and opposition to the death penalty, along with abolishing state income taxes and considering requiring employers to verify workers’ citizenship status.
State Sen. Steve Lathrop, a Democrat in the officially nonpartisan Legislature, said Ashford was a good friend who tried hard to find a middle ground on issues.
“He was more concerned with trying to find solutions than whether it was a Republican solution or a Democratic-type solution. When he worked on juvenile justice, that wasn’t an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ issue. I think that’s why he bounced back and forth between parties, ‘cause neither party at given times represented his worldview,” Lathrop said.
State Sen. John McCollister, a Republican, said he had known Ashford for more than 65 years since they were cub scouts together, calling his death a great loss. McCollister praised Ashford’s political independence.
“He was always a policy wonk and disregarded the political impact, whether it was negative or positive. He always tried to do the right thing,” McCollister said.
McCollister and Lathrop said they’d visited Ashford eight days before his death and found him optimistic. Ashford was 72.
Among many others expressing condolences were Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb, who said he served the people of the state with pride, skill and grace, and Republican U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, who served with Ashford in both the Legislature and Congress, and said Ashford was a kind man who believed in the goodness of his fellow man.
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