Flood, Pansing Brooks Campaigns Work to Get out the Vote as Special Election Nears

June 20, 2022, 6:17 p.m. ·

Patty Pansing Brooks and Supporters Gather For A Group Photo
Democrat Patty Pansing Brooks and supporters gather for A group photo (Photo by William Padmore, Nebraska Public Media News)

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On a rainy Saturday this spring, candidate for Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District special election Mike Flood gathered with a group of canvassers at the Nebraska GOP headquarters in downtown Lincoln. There he rallied his supporters, talking about the importance of their work.

“My hope is today we go door to door, we go to these Republican homes, we introduce ourselves, we go to our friends and neighbors in Lincoln and we invite them to come out and vote,” Flood said.

Mike Flood Speaks To  A Room of Canvassers At the GOP Headquarters in Downtown Lincoln
Mike Flood speaks to a room of canvassers at the GOP headquarters in downtown Lincoln. ( Photo by William Padmore, Nebraska Public Media News)

Flood may be familiar to many Nebraskans from his work in the Legislature and in the media. In addition to having served as the youngest speaker in the Nebraska Legislature, the Norfolk native is the founder of Flood Communications, a media empire that controls 15 radio stations and 4 TV stations across the state. If elected, Flood said his top priorities would include taming inflation, gaining energy independence for the country, and preparing Nebraska for what he predicts will be a continued shift to a “knowledge economy”, where many low-skill workers are replaced by automation.

“Recognizing that Nebraska communities are going to look a lot different as we continue to increase the number of automated systems in our manufacturing plants and in our businesses,” Flood said.

Flood has staked out firmly conservative positions on key issues. On abortion rights, for example, he points to his anti-abortion record.

Flood supporters hold up their Flood For Congress Shirts
Flood supporters hold up their Flood For Congress shirts ( Photo by William Padmore, Nebraska Public Media News)

” Yes, I passed the nation's first ban on late-term abortions at 20 weeks,” said Flood. “And that started an effort in America that I think the Supreme Court will consider a case from Mississippi that started from that.”

On guns, Flood is wary of so-called “red-flag laws” and believes 18-year-olds should be able to buy AR-15 rifles like the kind used in the Uvalde massacre.

Flood acknowledges some challenges in his race. Jeff Fortenberry, the former Republican congressman, resigned after being convicted of lying to the FBI about illegal campaign contributions. And redistricting slightly reduced the still-formidable Republican voter registration edge in the district. But he’s optimistic about being elected to take Democratic control away from Congress.

“As a Republican, I see an opportunity here. If we can not only keep this seat but pick up more seats, there's going to be a change in the Speaker's role in Washington, D.C., and that authority given to the Republican Party is sacred,” said Flood. “We have to make sure that when we get it, we're delivering results for the American people.”

Flood believes that after two years of Democratic control in Washington, voters are ready to give Republicans a House majority.

Mike Flood strolls down a residential neighborhood going door to door as he canvasses the are.jpg
Mike Flood strolls down a residential neighborhood as he goes door-to-door (Photo by William Padmore, Nebraska Public Media News)

The following Sunday, at Democrat Patty Pansing Brooks's campaign headquarters a few blocks away, canvassers eagerly gathered to begin their own efforts, with their leader making sure to hug everyone in the room before she spoke.

“I feel so honored that you're here and that you've taken the time,” said Pansing Brooks. “But I'm also grateful because you're fighting for our country, and it is truly remarkable.”

Patty Pansing Brooks Laughs With a Campaign Supporter at Her Campaign's Headquarters
atty Pansing Brooks laughs with a campaign supporter at her campaign's headquarters (Photo by William Padmore, Nebraska Public Media News)

Pansing Brooks, like Flood, is a state senator and an attorney. She says her history, as a former Republican turned Democrat, gives her a unique perspective and temperament more reflective of voters in the district.

“I'm the only person in the race, who has been a delegate to both the National Republican Convention and the National Democratic Convention. I understand and grew up as a Republican, I understand and don't hate the people who disagree with me," Pansing Brooks said. "I'm able to work across the aisle, as I showed in the Legislature,”

Historically, the odds for Democrats in the district haven’t been good – in fact, the last time a Democrat was elected to Congress from the district was in the 1960s, but redistricting in 2020 made the district seat more competitive for Democrats.

Pansing Brooks says, if elected, she also wants to address inflation, but emphasizes many voters she’s speaking with are also concerned about social issues. Specifically, she says many 1st District voters are concerned about the loss of privacy rights if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade and the implications that would have.

Doorknob Fliers for Patty Pansing Brooks whose main text reads, "Nebraska Deserves a leader with heart."
Doorknob fliers for Patty Pansing Brooks (Photo by William Padmore, Nebraska Public Media News)

“Many other things are upheld under the right to privacy, including the birth control pill, including in vitro fertilization, including same-sex marriage and interracial marriage. Those are all things that people just don't even realize once you start taking out and cutting apart the rights under the right to privacy, there's way more at stake than people realize,” Pansing Brooks said.

Many of Pansing Brooks’ positions fall on the center-left of the political spectrum. She believes in the 2nd Amendment but doesn’t believe 18-year-olds should have access to semi-automatic rifles. She views stringent abortion restrictions as a form of government control.

Pansing Brooks believes her messaging on policy issues falls in line with most 1st District voters, including moderate Republicans turned off by the direction of the national and local GOP. One sign of this is her campaign’s colors. She’s eschewed the traditional Democratic blue in favor of purple.

“Because red and blue make purple,” Pansing Brooks said.” I've got to do what I can to fight for our Constitution, for the rights of people, and to just help those in need and bring our country back together.”

The Special Election is June 28th.

An organizer speaks to a room of Patty Pansing Brooks supporters at the Pansing Brooks Headquarters in Downtown Lincoln
An organizer speaks to a room of Patty Pansing Brooks supporters at the Pansing Brooks's campaign headquarters in downtown Lincoln (Photo by William Padmore, Nebraska Public Media News)