Congressional District 2 Republican Primary Preview

May 11, 2020, 5:45 a.m. ·


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Nebraska’s primary election will take place Tuesday; two men will be on the District 2 Republican ballot.

Paul Anderson is a Republican, but he’s not a fan of President Trump. In fact, that’s why he’s running for Congress.

“What pushed me over the top, and commit to doing this, is President Trump," Anderson said. "And the fact that I don’t approve of his style of leadership.”

Anderson said he believes the president is guilty of two impeachable offenses: tampering with a witness and requesting election assistance from the president of Ukraine.

Anderson retired in 2013 after 21 years in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He also spent 35 years with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. Since retiring he’s been a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and Disabled American Veterans.

Creating greater accountability in government is one of Anderson’s primary campaign issues.

“With who we elect, we the people have been removed from that process of who runs and who stays in elective offices at every level," Anderson said. "And the reason that’s happened is the money that comes from the power brokers at every level.”

On healthcare, Anderson has a personal connection to the desire for reform. His brother in law has been fighting cancer and will likely owe nearly $100,000 for his treatment. He wants reform but doesn’t know yet what that will look like.

“I don’t know what the answer is, whether that be single payer, Obamacare, all these other ideas that have been floated," Anderson said. "But I do know this: Congress needs to keep bickering about this and other issues of course and do something about this.”

Anderson paid for his associates degree in part with GI Bill benefits. He wants to find a way to make college more affordable for everyone, but he doesn’t think free college is the answer.

“If we enter and go down that path, it sends the message that the government just needs to take care of all of our needs whatever they may be, irregardless of what the cost,” Anderson said.

On immigration, Anderson disagrees with the president’s plan to build a wall along the southern border. He said he doesn’t support open borders either.

On criminal justice, he supports restoring voting rights to people who were convicted of a crime but have completed their sentence. He also supports capital punishment.

Anderson is running against incumbent Congressman Don Bacon, who was elected in 2016 and reelected in 2018.

Bacon touted his active duty military experience as part of what he brings to the table in Congress. He said in his two terms he’s worked to improve national security.

“Three years ago half the Navy aircraft couldn’t fly. We have 58 combat brigades in the Army; only three could deploy. And we’ve turned that around now significantly," Bacon said. "Today 80% of the Navy aircraft can fly any given day and we’re just shy of 30 combat brigades in the Army that are ready to deploy. And I can just use those examples all the way across of how we’ve improved our security.”

Before running for Congress, Bacon served nearly 30 years in the U.S. Air Force.

On healthcare, Bacon also pointed to his record to reflect his views.

“The fact is our care is too expensive, but there’s not many options out there .And so I supported associational pools, shopping across state lines, supported HR 19 which lowers prescription drug costs," Bacon said. "We have more of a market-based, choice-based philosophy than what the Democrats are offering, which is a top down, from the government. But yet we know we need change ‘cause what we have right now’s not working.”

Bacon wants people with student loans to be able to refinance those loans. He also wants to expand programs to forgive loans for teachers who work in under-served areas and people who work in other service professions.

On criminal justice, Bacon doesn’t think non-violent crimes should be punished with long stays in prison. He also wants to make sure people who finish their prison sentences are ready to reenter society.

“You know, you hear these horror stories of folks who are reentering from prison, they don’t have an ID card, they don’t have a skill, they don’t have a place to stay and they end up back in jail," Bacon said. "So I think the key thing for reforms in the justice system is helping folks who are in prison or our county jails to get a skill and be able to have a plan for when they reenter.”

Bacon wants more security at the southern border, e-verification of immigration status for employment, and more immigration judges and infrastructure. He also supports a compromise for the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. He’s disappointed in a lack of compromise on immigration in Congress.

“Well we needed a bipartisan way forward. What we’ve done, when the republicans were in charge last congress, they only wanted to pass their perfect republican bill, which had no chance in the Senate," Bacon said. "And now the democrats are in charge and they’re doing the same thing. They want to pass the perfect democratic bill and it has no chance in the Senate. So we’re gonna have to sit down and be willing to compromise.”

COVID-19 has changed the environment for this election, and Bacon said instead of political events his campaign has focused on volunteering and delivering personal protective equipment to those who need it.

The primary election is Tuesday.