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Carol Blood gives a concession speech at her campaign watch party in Omaha, NE on Nov. 8, 2022. (Nebraska News Service Photo/Jazari Kual)

Nebraska Republicans held on to the governorship and the three congressional districts were redrawn by the unicameral in 2021, this midterm election. 

Governor-Elect Jim Pillen, a member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, defeated State Sen. Carol Blood by nearly 25 points. 

Pillen ran on several issues, including banning abortion and rejecting critical race theory and lowering property taxes. He won the GOP primary, which had several candidates, including Trump-endorsed candidate Charles Herbster.

In his victory speech, Pillen said he would focus on fixing Nebraska’s high property taxes. 

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Jim Pillen speaks with a partygoer at the beginning of his Election Night party at the Lincoln Cornhusker Marriot Hotel on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Nebraska News Service Photo / Sophia Walsh)

Blood of Bellevue launched her campaign 14 months ago with the key messages of prosperity for all Nebraskans, maintaining public safety, investing in rural infrastructure, and investing in public education. 

On election night, Blood conceded the gubernatorial race and echoed the message of Nebraskans keeping hope.

“What we loved about our campaign is we brought hope to people who truly felt that their voices had not been heard in decades, and so those people, I say, don’t give up hope,” Blood said. “We hear you. We’re gonna keep fighting for you. That is never going to change.”

First Congressional District

On Nov. 9, State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln conceded the race for the First Congressional District in a social media post. 

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Democratic nominee for US House, Patty Pansing Brooks, reacting to her initial poll results. She took an early lead against Republican opponent Mike Flood

“My journey is not over,” Pansing-Brooks said. “While I won’t be representing the people of this district next year, that does not mean I will not continue to work to make a difference in this community.”

Pansing-Brooks’ campaign launched in 2021 with reproductive health care, inflation, infrastructure, and a wider circle of compassion as her main key issues. 

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in June, Pansing Brooks’ campaign concentrated heavily on reproductive health care and LGBTQ issues. 

Rep. Mike Flood’s campaign launched in 2021 after federal prosecutors brought charges against then-Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who served in congress for 17 years. 

Fortenberry’s resignation came after a California grand jury found him guilty of lying to the FBI, prompting Gov. Pete Ricketts called for a special election to fill the remainder of Fortenberry’s term. Flood won the special election against State Sen. Pansing-Brooks by nearly 5.5 points. 

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Flood Speaks to 10/11 Media team before the results begin to roll in on Nov. 8, 2022, at the Divot Convention Center in Norfolk, NE. (Nebraska News Service Photo/Hayden Rooney)

On Rep. Flood’s campaign website, some key issues he has listed are protecting life, border security, defending freedoms, and fighting Biden’s socialist agenda. 

Flood defeated Pansing Brooks by nearly 17 points. 

Second Congressional District

Rep. Don Bacon won a fourth term by 4.5 points against State Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha in a race that gained national attention as a tossup.

Vargas won re-election to the state unicameral in 2020 and launched his campaign at the beginning of the summer of 2021, focusing on accessible healthcare, reproductive freedom, strengthening the economy and protecting democracy, among other topics. 

In a social media post, Vargas conceded the race for Nebraska’s second congressional district on Nov. 9. 

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Tony Vargas speaks to the press at his campaign watch party in Omaha, NE on Nov. 8, 2022. (Jazari Kual/Nebraska News Service)

“I know the challenges facing Nebraskans right now because I’ve lived them – the difficulty to find affordable housing, to pay for groceries, gas, childcare and medical bills,” Vargas said. “And while this wasn’t the outcome we’d hoped for, our work is not going to stop. I will continue to serve.”

Rep. Bacon, a U.S. Air Force veteran, focused on national and public defense, agriculture, jobs, and border security issues, as well as other key messages.

Rep. Bacon thanked his supporters for his win in a social media post the morning after election night.

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Rep. Don Bacon addresses his supporters at his election watch party, after he gained a majority lead in the 2nd Congressional District election. (Dillon Galloway/Nebraska News Service Photo)

“After elections, we shake hands and work for what is best for America,” Bacon said. “During campaigns, we are often red vs. blue, but after elections, we should be red, white and blue.” 

Tension within the Democratic party

Kara Eastman, the Democratic nominee for Nebraska’s Second Congressional District in 2018 and 2020, tweeted her thoughts on the party’s leadership on Nov. 11. 

“One thing is unequivocally clear – IT IS TIME FOR NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADERSHIP IN NEBRASKA,” Eastman’s tweet read. 

Eastman’s tweet received hundreds of likes, dozens of supportive comments, and criticism. 

“Wow,” Nebraska Democratic Party Executive Director Precious McKesson replied. 

Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb also replied to Eastman’s tweet. 

“We welcome your volunteer time to assist,” Kleeb said. “We already elected party leaders for (the) 2022-2026 term. All of us as party leaders are volunteers.” 

“Personally I think my mom has done quite enough volunteer work in that state,” Eastman’s daughter Sabina replied. “Thanks, though!”

Former Democratic Nebraska Governor and United States Senator Bob Kerrey called the party pathetic.

“The Nebraska Democratic Party is not going to have a sort of burning bush moment where everything gets turned around in one election,” Kerrey said. “That doesn’t happen. It could take 10 years, 20 years.”