NEBRASKA (KMTV) — Update: 06/28/2022 10:30p.m.
Nebraska state Sen. Mike Flood won a special election Tuesday to replace former U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, a fellow Republican who was sentenced to two years of probation earlier in the day for a conviction on charges that he lied to federal agents.
Flood beat Democratic state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks in the state’s Republican-leaning 1st District, which includes Lincoln and dozens of smaller, mostly conservative towns in eastern Nebraska.
Flood, a former speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, will serve the rest of what would have been Fortenberry’s ninth term. He’ll be a strong favorite to win a new term in November when he faces Pansing Brooks again in the general election.
Both candidates were nominated by their parties’ leaders in April to run in the special election. The next month, Nebraska primary voters picked them to run in the general election.
But as more details of the case became public, Fortenberry quickly lost support among top Nebraska Republicans. Gov. Pete Ricketts and former Gov. Dave Heineman dealt him a major blow when they endorsed Flood.
Flood stayed mostly positive throughout the campaign, airing several lighthearted ads, including one where he described himself as a conservative “ nerd ” who would get things done in Washington.
With nearly 108,000 votes reported, Sen. Mike Flood leads the race at 52% with 56,085 votes so far.
Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks follows behind at 47% with 51,662 total votes.
Voting was underway on Tuesday for the first special election in Nebraska in 70 years.
After former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry was convicted on three felony counts, including lying to federal investigators, State Sen. Mike Flood and State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks are vying to replace him in Nebraska's 1st Congressional District.
Reporter Alex Whitney was live at the Flood campaign headquarters and reporter Jon Kipper was at the Pansing Brooks headquarters as they awaited the results of the special election.