Omaha Democrat Preston Love kicks off campaign for Pete Ricketts’ U.S. Senate seat

Jan. 17, 2024, 4:30 p.m. ·

Preston Love Jr. compared his Senate campaign to David going up against Goliath at a speech in North Omaha Wednesday. (Photo by Brian Beach/Nebraska Public Media News)

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Preston Love Jr. is well aware the odds are against him in the U.S. Senate election.

Nebraska hasn’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since Ben Nelson in 2006 and Love, an 81-year-old community activist and Sunday school teacher, compared his campaign to David going up against Goliath.

“I come to you to say that I’ve compelled myself to fight the fight, to represent the people that I’ve been serving against a giant,” Love said. “Of course I’m an underdog, who cares about that? I’m an underdog just like David.”

Love said he hopes to help bridge the divide between urban and rural Nebraska and referenced that both communities suffer disparities in economic and cultural opportunities.

“We agree way more than we disagree, but they just don’t know us and we don’t know them. Don’t jump to conclusions about our appeal out in Greater Nebraska,” he said.

Love also said he hoped his campaign would help increase voter turnout in North Omaha for other Democratic candidates, including Tony Vargas and Joe Biden.

“Tony Vargas may get elected because Preston Love is running for the Senate,” Love said.

In reference to the Presidential election, Love said one electoral vote could make all the difference and that another Trump presidency would “completely dishevel democracy.”

“What’s at stake in this candidacy is my candidacy will help us win that electoral vote because I’m hoping that this community comes out and votes like crazy,” Love said.

In response to a question about his age being a factor in his campaign, Love highlighted several qualities of his older age.

“I say, I will offer a voice of reason because I’m 81, of wisdom because I’m 81 and a little dose of civility, because I’m 81,” he said.

As Senator, Love said his priorities would include stronger gun control, more abortion access, and the creation of a robust farm bill.

Rev. Michael Williams, a North Omaha pastor, introduced Love at the event. Williams said he thought Love’s David and Goliath comparison was clever because of the campaign’s circumstances.

“(Love’s) opponent has so much money and so much name recognition,” Williams told Nebraska Public Media. “And so I think it galvanized this group of people, and I think it's going to carry on to the community.”

Love also referenced his role as a professor of political science and Black Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha during his speech and joked that several of his students in attendance were just trying to get a better grade in his class.

One of those students was Ashley Rivas, a pre-law student at UNO who said she shares many of the same beliefs and values with Love.

“He is going to advocate for women's rights,” Rivas said. “And I know that he is going to make sure that women's voices are not being left out in a place where it's mostly men that have that power.”

Love said he intends to embark on a listening tour across Nebraska in February.

The Democratic primary election is scheduled for Tuesday, May 14th. Love will face Omaha Democrat Todd Newbold.