Flood Wins Special Election for Nebraska's 1st Congressional District

June 28, 2022, 9 p.m. ·

Mike Flood speaks with a voter after winning the first district special election
Mike Flood will serve the remainder of former U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s term. (Photo by Will Bauer, Nebraska Public Media News)

Listen To This Story

Mike Flood can now add “Congressman” to his resume.

The longtime state senator and Republican won the special election Tuesday night to fill the vacant seat of Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District for the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the Associated Press. His opponent, fellow state senator and Democrat Patty Pansing Brooks conceded defeat around 10:40 pm Tuesday night.

Flood, a Norfolk native, defeated Pansing Brooks, a Lincoln native, by a 53.17%-46.83% margin, preliminary results from the Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office show.

"Across the 1st Congressional District, Nebraskans made their voices heard loud and clear," Flood told a crowd of supporters in Norfolk Tuesday night. "Tonight, they sent an unmistakable message to Washington that America is on the wrong track, and it's time for a change in leadership. Under Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi's one-party rule and reign of error, things have gone from bad to worse."

Tuesday night’s election isn’t the end of Flood vs. Pansing Brooks, as the two lawmakers and lawyers will square off yet again in the November general election. Both won their party’s support in May’s primary elections by wide margins.

"We have to keep moving forward and keep our eyes on November," he said. "We can not let up because we know the left's playbook."

In the meantime, Flood will serve the remainder of former U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s term after the longtime congressman was convicted on three counts of lying to the FBI earlier this year. A federal judge sentenced Fortenbery to two years probation and a $25,000 fine.

Fortenberry resigned from his post after a Los Angeles jury found in March he was guilty for lying about a $30,000 campaign contribution made in 2016 by a foreign billionaire.

Now a member of Congress, Flood said it's time for Republicans to take back the House of Representatives. Besides running Pelosi out of leadership, Flood said he'd like to address inflation and energy independence.

"My promise to you is that I will never stop working hard, never stop fighting, never stop doing what I can every day to represent our district and serve this great nation we love," Flood said.

The new 1st District now covers much of suburban Sarpy County, including Bellevue and Papillion after the state legislature redrew the maps last year. The district also stretches all the way north to Norfolk and south to Columbus, Fremont and Lincoln.

A pragmatic deal maker for most of his career, the former Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature couched himself as a staunch conservative during this campaign. In campaign commercials, Flood touted his sponsorship of a 2010 law that bans abortions more than 20 weeks after fertilization and tax cuts passed during his time as speaker of the legislature.

Like on election night, Flood often railed against establishment Washington D.C. Democrats – namely President Biden and Speaker of the House Pelosi – during much of his campaign.

Both Flood and Pansing Brooks rode the support of their respective parties. Most notably, Flood drew support from Gov. Pete Ricketts, whose wife, a Democrat, endorsed Pansing Brooks.

Patty Pansing Brooks speaks at the special election in June
Pansing Brooks earned 46.83% of Tuesday's vote. (Photo by William Padmore, Nebraska Public Media News)

In her concession speech, the Pansing Brooks told supporters she'd be a stronger candidate come November.

“We know where we need to work smarter, and that's what we're going to do," she said.

Just days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the Democrat said she hopes 1st District voters realize that recent conservative victories represent a step backward in American culture.

"The fact that women's bodily autonomy is at risk and that birth control, for goodness sakes, is on the chopping block," she said. "...This is cruel and twisted. This is not the way to go forward as a country."

For now, Pansing Brooks will return to the state legislature, representing much of central Lincoln. The governor can appoint a replacement to Flood’s seat in Norfolk.