2nd Congressional district Democratic debate preview: Brad Ashford

Nebraskans will go to the polls May 15

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - Brad Ashford, determined to take back his seat after losing it to current Congressman Don Bacon, has campaigned on his ability to seek compromise and reach across the aisle on issues.

But first, he faces a Democratic challenger: Kara Eastman.

Ashford was only in office for one term, but hopes the voters in the second congressional district will send him back. This time though, the national politics are different and he's counting on a nation-wide wave and his experience to pull him through.

"I've been a legislator for a long time in Nebraska — it's what I enjoy doing," Ashford said.

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Ashford said one of his main accomplishments while in Washington, D.C., was a public-private partnership for a new medical VA center and finding compromises to major issues.

"One of the things I liked most my job in DC was taking an idea that was emanated from here and taking it back to DC and trying to do something with it."

Since his time in office, a major tax reform package passed, lowering the corporate tax rate and changing how you file taxes.

Ashford said it was bad legislation.

"It was way, way — in my view — too expensive," he said. "We'll never be able to pay for it, at least in the next 10 years. I would not have voted for it."

On healthcare, Ashford voted several times against repealing the Affordable Care Act. It's still in place today, but Ashford said it needs to be fixed.

"We have to provide more choice for healthcare that means, you can have your insurance from your employer you should be able to continue to have that."

On DACA, Ashford said he would vote to keep Dreamers here so families are not separated.

"If we only legislate only on the DACA kids, and we don't talk about a pathway to citizenship, or if the result of what we do is dividing families."

Ashford doesn't support tuition free colleges, but wants more money to go into helping student loans, "I do support the idea of a 5th year of high school, the idea of funding that fifth year, whether it's in high school or college, before you go on in your career. And we can fund that".

Ashford said while he and Eastman agree on many of the issues, his experience stands out.

"I think the difference is not in vision or not in caring about people, or any of those kinds of things," he said. "I think the difference is I know what's possible."

Other topics

On border security: "They (voters) obviously want us to have secure borders, but that means it has to be secured, not just meeting some political promise that may not be rational."

On equal pay for women: "It's not so much that they are paid the same on a particular day, it's over the whole span of a career if you add up all the pay a woman gets and a man gets in the same job, it's going to be less."

On current Congressman Don Bacon: "I would do a better job of representing the needs and concerns of the district. Not that he doesn't try, or that he is, or something wrong with him. I just think he has a different philosophy on the role of representative."

On Eastman's debt-free tuition proposal: "It's great to say, 'Oh yes, I'm for that — especially if you are in school — to be free.' Nothing's free."

Why run for office again? "The more time elapsed, it became clear to me that I really enjoyed — well, I always felt that — but got my energy back."

On the nationwide 'blue wave': "I think there's something going on here in Nebraska that says we're not ideological people, I think we're very pragmatic people. People want to see real leadership, they want to see real change, they don't want to see partisan bickering."

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