Candidates for Nebraska's 1st Congressional District Special Election Participate In Hour-Long, Televised Debate

June 12, 2022, 11:39 p.m. ·

Patty Pansing Brooks and Mike Flood stand at KETV podiums
Patty Pansing Brooks and Mike Flood debate ( photo courtesty KETV)

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The special election for Nebraska’s 1st District Congressional seat is June 28th. In an hour-long televised debate Sunday, sponsored by Omaha TV station KETV, Democrat Patty Pansing Brooks and Republican Mike Flood hashed out their stances on a variety of issues.

The first topic of the night centered on the number of mass shootings in America. Asked whether she would support newly announced, bipartisan legislation that would, among other things, provide funding for states to enact so-called “red-flag laws,” Pansing Brooks said she would. She calls such laws "common sense." She also reflected positively on the bipartisan nature of the bill. Still, she said lawmakers should go even further.

“We need universal background checks,” Pansing Brooks said. “We need to get rid of military-style weapons that aren't necessary to go hunt a deer.”

Flood responded that while he would remain “open-minded” on the bipartisan legislation, he remains staunchly opposed to any infringement of 2nd amendment rights for “law-abiding citizens”. He also provided his own list of “common-sense proposals” to improve safety in communities, particularly schools. His proposals include “fortifying” schools, putting more school resource officers on school grounds, and even giving teachers guns if local officials approve.

“That is a decision that should be made at the local level, working with law enforcement,” Flood said.

Brooks rebutted that arming teachers would lead to “war zones.”

“I've talked to so many teachers across the state who say, can you imagine being in a high school and somebody of my size - five foot six - …and having six-foot seniors wrestle me for whatever gun I'm carrying at that point?” Pansing Brooks said.

Despite their differences, both candidates agreed more needs to be done to address the underlying mental health issues that drive people, especially juveniles, to violence. They focused on funding more beds for psychiatric patients.

“If you are someone that is threatening the public safety of others or yourself, you need to be put in a safe place so that we can get you the care and the treatment you need," said, Flood. “And right now that option isn't always available.”

The next topic: the economy.

With the nation’s inflation rates at a 40-year-high, Flood blamed many of its root causes on government spending under the Biden administration and lack of long-term energy independence. Here he noted Biden’s decision to cancel the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“I would much rather rely on countries like Canada to get our oil than countries like Russia, where Vladimir Putin, a true killer, is turning off the natural gas supply to places like Denmark and Germany.”

Pansing Brooks agreed with the need for energy independence but said the Keystone XL Pipeline is old news and that America needs to look toward alternative energy sources like ethanol.

“We should be the best suppliers and the most proficient suppliers of ethanol in the world,” Pansing Brooks said. “We have the incredible ability, not just with our corn, we're the third-largest corn producer in the country. But also there are other grains that can make ethanol.”

Flood said, energy independence or not, one needs only to look at the trillions of dollars of spending from the Biden Administration to find the primary cause of sky-high inflation rates.

“They have demonstrated in Washington an inability to directly positively impact the American economy. Nebraskans are hurting," said Flood. That's why it's time for a change."

On foreign affairs, both candidates essentially agreed the United States should continue to stand by its NATO allies. They also support the Biden administration's current strategy of funding Ukrainian resistance in their fight against Russia's invasion without directly involving American troops.

The night’s questioning ended on what each candidate would do to restore the public’s trust in government which is near historic lows. Pansing Brooks said a big part of the problem is the way political parties operate today, where, she says, partisanship overrides cooperation.

“What we need to do is come together, show the nation that we're not working for parties. We're not working for special interests. We are working for Americans, and especially we will work for Nebraskans, I will work for Nebraskans.”

For his part, Flood had a three-part strategy: Listen to constituents, learn from their issues and work hard.

“I think at the end of the day, the people in the 1st Congressional District, they want somebody that's honest, that's an advocate that works hard, that shows up, understands people's problems, and takes real-world solutions back to Washington,” Flood said.

The special election is set for June 28th.

To watch the full debate, click HERE