Lee Terry isn’t a great Congressman. He’s made some less than great statements and hasn’t really distinguished himself in a decade and a half in Washington. He deservedly drew some primary opposition this year from Tea Partier Dan Frei. Terry outspent Frei more than 20-1 ($900,000-$40,000), and despite that, only won 53-47 in the Republican Primary. But he won the Republican Primary. Vulnerable and mediocre though he is, Lee Terry is the incumbent Republican Congressman and Republican nominee to retain his seat in Nebraska’s 2nd District. As of yesterday, he was a substantial favorite to beat the Democrat, State Sen. Brad Ashford. Not the case this morning.
Tea Partyer Chip Maxwell is running for Congress with a “plan to save the country.” ……… “I offer Republicans a candidate truly passionate about fighting for Republican values. If the Republicans complaining about my candidacy actually vote their alleged conservative convictions, they have no choice but to vote for me. If Ashford wins, it will be due to the-party-is-our-private-club Republicans who refuse to face the reality that it’s time to quit supporting an incumbent who is not the kind of Republican we need in the battle to get the country back on track.”
Obvious problem: Terry isn’t popular, but he’s not thoroughly despised, and if Republican voters split even 9-1 between Terry and Maxwell, the Democrat is going to win. Nebraska’s 2nd, which includes Omaha, is far more purple than the rest of the state. Obama won it in 2008, and after some gerrymandering, Romney carried it by single digits in 2012. It’s Republican-leaning, make no mistake, but there’s not much margin for this sort of vote-splitting crap. If you think the incumbent is insufficiently conservative or ineffective, primary him, which the Tea Party very nearly successfully did with Dan Frei, but it has to stop at the primary. All this does is give Nancy Pelosi one more vote in Congress.