Fortenberry Reelected to First Congressional District

Nov. 3, 2020, 11:38 p.m. ·


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Nebraska’s First District Republican Congressman Jeff Fortenberry defeated his Democratic challenger, state Senator Kate Bolz, in a race that was closer than many of his previous runs.

Early on, with votes coming in from the Democratic stronghold of Lancaster County, Bolz jumped to a 20 thousand vote lead. In an interview, Bolz was upbeat:

"We defied expectations," Bolz said. "We’ve earned the endorsements of the Journal Star and the World Herald. We performed well in the debates. We raised over a million dollars…and we’re really proud of our performance. It’s never been a more important election year. I’m glad we’re in it fighting."

But as the evening wore on and returns came in from more rural, Republican areas, Fortenberry narrowed Bolz’s margin, then took the lead himself. By midnight, he was ahead by more than 30 thousand votes. By Wednesday afternoon, result showed him with 59.53 percent of the vote -- the first time he's gotten less than 60 percent since 2006. Fortenberry attributed that to a couple of factors:

"Everything now is so nationalized. Everything is looked at through the lens of how the national environment is trending right or left. That’s one factor," Fortenberry said. "Sen. Bolz, again, is a strong and good candidate."

Bolz had campaigned heavily on health care, faulting Fortenberry for voting against the Affordable Care Act. Fortenberry says he's looking forward to working on economic security, national security and health care security.

The district hasn’t elected a Democrat since the 1960s. The district includes the cities of Lincoln, Fremont and Bellevue, as well as rural areas of 17 counties in eastern Nebraska.

Fortenberry was first elected in 2004 and has been reelected seven times, getting more than 60% of the vote in every election since 2006.

Bolz raised more money than Democrats usually do, but was still being outspent more than 2-1 according to the latest campaign finance reports.