LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Nebraska's first congressional district has been a Republican stronghold for over half a century. A Democrat hasn’t won the seat since the 1960’s.
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry has held the seat for 16 years, but in this election cycle, the Nebraska Democratic Party and state senator Kate Bolz, says he’s vulnerable and can be beat.
In past races, the Democratic primary winner in district one hasn’t been able to raise much money to be competitive in the general.
If Kate Bolz wins next Tuesday, that will not be the case.
She has already raised over $300,000, positioning herself to be competitive come November.
“This is a sea change year, there are a lot of things that are different in April of 2020 that any of us have ever predicted. And I think people are paying more attention to this election than ever,” says Bolz.
First, she’s got to win the primary, she faces off against Babs Ramsey of Bellevue for the Democratic nomination.
Her campaign centers on healthcare. She wants to keep private insurance, but also have the federal government offer a plan to all Americans.
“I support a public option, I think anyone who is looking for health insurance should have an avenue to get it. I don’t think it’s necessary to take way any health insurance plan that someone is already happy with,” says Bolz.
Bolz, who was born and raised in rural Otoe County, also is advocating for incremental change to our healthcare system.
That means tax credits for small businesses who help employees pay for insurance.
Expanding Medicaid’s ability to negotiate prescription drug prices, and capping out of pocket drug costs for those on Medicare.
“As someone who was never a very good high school athlete, there is a lot of pride in getting to second base, and a lot of desire to hit a home run, you can aspire for both and work on both,” says Bolz.
She says the coronavirus pandemic has put healthcare front and center, and that her positions on healthcare have been reinforced by the pandemic.
“For those of us that are fortunate enough to have health insurance coverage, it’s a worry. For those people that are not sure where they will get their healthcare, it’s a fear,” says Bolz.
The congressional district Bolz is running for consists of Lincoln, includes eastern Sarpy County, but also goes up to Norfolk, and as south as Nebraska City.
She says those constituents voted to pass Medicaid expansion by nine points, and will want a Congress-member who can build a stronger healthcare system in Washington.
“That tells me the voters in this district want a healthcare champion, and they’re willing to vote for the person to do the job for them,” says Bolz.
Bolz says during the pandemic, she would like to see congress pass more money to hospitals and nursing facilities. But says it’s also an opportunity to invest in infrastructure and a new green energy economy.