Omaha, NE.—The most recent campaign cash numbers speak for themselves.
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry nearly $2 million. The incumbent 1st District Republican’s two Democratic rivals have a whole lot less.
Democrat Dennis Crawford, who has run against Fortenberry before and lost, $14,000. Democrat Jessica McClure, who has never run for office before, a little over $2,000.
The Democrats insist they have big issues to talk about, issues like health care and education. But with little money— and Fortenberry winning his last three races with nearly 70 percent of the vote— can they get anybody to listen?
News Channel Nebraska spoke with both about their obvious uphill climbs:
NCN: Congressman Fortenberry has some 2 million dollars in the bank and you have $14,000 you can’t even begin to compete.
Crawford: if the bottom should drop out for the Republicans this fall, which is a distinct possibility, you can see the playing field open up nationally. And you can see national money being put into this race. I would need a major change in the political climate and the bottom to fall out for Republicans and the national party would decide to help. That’s my best chance Joe and probably my only chance.
NCN: So absent the blue wave your campaign doesn’t get off the ground.
Crawford: I am a heavy underdog but I have a much better chance being on the ballot then not on the ballot.
NCN: You’ve run before and run into the same buzz-saw, so you’re just hoping for a different climate this year?
Crawford: I think the climate is much different in 2018 than 2014, when millions of Democrats stayed home. We’ve seen the elections in 2017 and ’18, the Democratic base is energized. Independent and moderate Republicans are repelled by the Trump Administration and this incompetent Republican-controlled Congress. It’s a much better climate for Democrats than it was in 2014.
NCN: Healthcare is your number one issue?
Crawford: Jeff Fortenberry voted last year for Trumpcare which would kick 23 million people off of insurance, brought back pre-existing conditions clauses, all to fuel a tax cut for the 1%.
NCN: Isn’t this an incredibly uphill almost impossible battle?
McClure: I wanted somebody to run against him who had been in office before because it’s hard to raise money. It’s hard to just jump in in such a big district without having that base of money. But if nobody is going to try we’re never going to win so I am going to keep trying. I called people and organizations in Washington, D.C. when I was thinking about running and they basically said “you’re not going to win don’t even bother trying” and that was an unacceptable answer for me. So we might not have the money but we have a lot of supporters and a lot of volunteers.
NCN: Do you think you can really win?
McClure: I really think I have a shot with the current political climate and the fact that Jeff Fortenberry is just voting in his party’s interest over and over again. I am so opposite of him that it might be what we need to push someone into office.
NCN: Are you banking on the blue wave?
McClure: I am certainly not banking on it but there is an energy in the air with this election, people are obviously upset with things. But you still have to show up and vote. You can’t just go online and complain.
NCN: So if there is a year to win this is it?
McClure: If there is ever a chance this is the year.