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More political newcomers running for office in Nebraska

Posted at 5:19 PM, May 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-16 19:14:31-04

Political newcomer Kara Eastman surprised former Congressman Brad Ashford in the 2nd Congressional District Democratic Primary. 

Eastman will now face incumbent Republican Don Bacon in the November election. 

Many candidates from non-traditional backgrounds were on the ballot and the results of last night's primary show that voters are taking notice.

Non-profit founder - Kara Eastman - edged out former Representative Brad Ashford in an upset for Nebraska's second Congressional District in the Democratic Primary.

"There are things happening in our country and people are looking for strong positive leadership. And sometimes they are looking for something they don't even know is out there," said Kara Eastman. 

Eastman is a fresh face on the ballot -  defeating Ashford by close to three percentage points. 

"Those new faces in politics because younger, newer voters are looking for something different," said Political Science Professor Paul Landow. "They are tired of the old and the fact Washington doesn't seem to be getting anything done. It's frustrating and upsetting to them."

In contrast to Ashford,  who spent four terms in the Unicameral, Eastman's background centers around public health. She's part of a growing trend of newcomers throwing their hats into the political arena. 

Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb says more than 600 Democratic candidates registered for office.

"I think technology has really opened the door to government," said Kleeb. "As we get more and more technology, and politicians become more accessible, individuals start to look at these hearings and Facebook and realize, 'I am just as smart as that person in a suit.'" 

While trends are leaning toward more grassroots activists running for office - others say the wave is a recurring part of the political cycle.

"Votes in a Democratic primary are much different than a general election," said Landow. "General election will be much more conservative and much more Republican and much more Nebraska-like."

Eastman will face off against incumbent Representative Don Bacon in November's general election.

Bacon did not have a primary challenger and headed back to Washington D.C. after casting his vote in Omaha Tuesday morning.