Flood holds onto his seat in the 1st Congressional District
By Bill Kelly , Senior Producer/Reporter Nebraska Public Media
Nov. 8, 2022, 9 p.m. ·
Rep. Mike Flood stepped into his first full term as a United States Congressman.
Telling supporters the voters had given him a “clear mandate” from the 1st Congressional District in Nebraska.
In a race that some had speculated could be close, the Republican incumbent soundly defeated Patty Pansing Brooks by nearly 15 percentage points..
Hosting the election night event in his hometown, Flood listed his legislative priorities.
He first promised an end to “reckless spending” and provide tax relief. Next he said a more conservative House of Representatives would help “restore law and order and secure our southern border with Mexico.” That elicited the single loudest applause line of the evening.
His fourth point spoke directly to segments of the 1st Districts farm economy: “We're going to protect agriculture from the ‘Green New Deal’ warriors that are working to destroy America's feedlots and our ag producers.”
Flood, a Norfolk-based attorney, founded the multimedia company News Channel Nebraska. He served two terms in the Nebraska State Legislature from 2005 to 2013. He returned to the unicameral in 2021 before resigning to run for Congress.
The 1st Congressional District seat became competitive for the first time in a decade when Jeff Fortenberry quit after being convicted of lying to the FBI about campaign finance violations. Flood launched his campaign to unseat the incumbent even before Fortenberry resigned. Gov. Pete Ricketts abandoned Fortenberry and endorsed the former state senator.
Flood went on to win a special election against Pansing Brooks to fill the remainder of Fortenberry's term.
Some viewed the special election results, with the candidates separated by only 6,000 votes, as closer than anticipated. Ballots were cast just four days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Dobbs case, reversing years of protection for legal abortion established by Roe v. Wade. Democrats saw the close preliminary round as a signal pro-choice voters could be energized in a traditionally conservative district. Pansing Brooks’ ability to attract hundreds of small donations from individual donors may account for some of that post-Roe urgency.
From the start, Flood reinforced his anti-abortion credentials. He also leaned heavily into concerns from conservative voters about the Biden presidency and the Democrats' hold on both houses of Congress. During debates, interviews, and prepared statements, Flood would link Pansing Brooks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Replacing Fortenberry on Capitol Hill provided Flood with the Congressional title and earned Flood some modest seniority over other freshman legislators. He currently sits on the House Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee and the Revenue Committee.
There had also been curiosity over how a change in the district's boundaries might affect turn-out. Redistricting added voters from urban Sarpy County into the district and shifted rural voters from Saunders County into the 2nd Congressional District. In the end, Flood easily took most of the precincts added in the boundary shift.
In her concession remarks, Pansing Brooks told a silent group of campaign workers and supporters “my journey is not over.” She said she intends to “continue to work to make a difference in this community” because “there's too much at stake and too many people hurting today for anyone to think that I or anyone else here tonight will back down now.”
Republican Adrian Smith has won his ninth straight Congressional election in Nebraska’s 3rd District. Smith swept the field with nearly 80% lead. His opponent, Democrat David Else received 16% of the vote and Legal Marijuana Now’s, Mark Elworth Jr. had 6%.
Smith has been in Congress for almost 16 years, dating back to January 2007. The district has about three times more registered Republicans than Democrats – making it one of the most right-leaning congressional districts in the nation. Smith says his goals this term will include curbing inflation and reducing taxes.
Smith’s victory makes him the state’s senior Congressional representative.