Cook Political Report now rates Bacon-Vargas race a toss-up

Report cites Kansas vote to reject a ban on abortion as a factor
Don Bacon & Tony Vargas
Posted at 12:08 PM, Aug 05, 2022

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Examiner) — A much-followed national political analyst is now rating Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District matchup between U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., and Democrat State Sen. Tony Vargas a toss-up.

A column Friday by David Wasserman in the nonpartisan Cook Political Report said it’s clear that this week’s “emphatic” rejection in Kansas of an anti-abortion ballot issue has “swiftly galvanized Democrats.”

Wasserman, who moved the race from “likely Republican” to a “toss-up,” wrote that Bacon’s narrow victories in 2018 and 2020 in the Omaha-based district “are starting to look more like a function of far-left, pro-single payer Democrat Kara Eastman’s limited appeal than his own strength.”

“Multiple private surveys taken by both parties,” according to Wasserman, are now showing Bacon, a retired brigadier general, tied with or trailing a more moderate Democrat, Vargas.

Vargas, a former Omaha School Board member who once taught in Brooklyn, is now emphasizing Bacon’s responses to a 2016 questionnaire from Nebraska Right to Life in which the congressman said he opposed abortion exceptions for rape, incest and a mother’s life.

In a press release Friday, Vargas called the shift to a “toss-up” a “major national development.”

“But it only confirms what Nebraska voters already know — that Don Bacon has changed and he’s no longer the right person to represent this district,” Vargas said.

The Bacon campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning.

Wasserman wrote that Republicans aren’t panicking and maintain that Bacon has always started his races in this position.

“But the issue threatens to put him in a serious bind in this suburban (district),” Wasserman wrote, one that President Joe Biden won in 2020 with about 56% of the vote.

The columnist said the vote in Kansas confirms that Democrats will use the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn abortion rights to “squeeze pro-life Republicans in Biden-won seats.”

Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Cate Folsom for questions: Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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