January 10, 2018

Omaha World Herald | Roseann Moring | Jan 10, 2018

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Democratic congressional candidate Brad Ashford has picked up a spot on the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s list of candidates considered to have the best shot at unseating a Republican. The group announced that Ashford will be one of 18 people on its “red-to-blue” list. The designation is not an endorsement, the committee said, but it will provide Ashford with access to training and other resources.

Not on the list is Democrat Kara Eastman, a nonprofit executive who is vying with Ashford for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd District. The primary winner will challenge incumbent Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican, in November.

Bacon has already received national support as well — a political action committee affiliated with House Speaker Paul Ryan has hired a staffer to help Bacon’s re-election chances.

Ashford successfully ran for Congress in 2014, beating Republican Rep. Lee Terry. In 2016, Bacon challenged Ashford and won. “A lifelong community leader in Nebraska, Brad Ashford has worked tirelessly to deliver solutions for middle-class families,” said committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan in a statement. “Throughout his career, Brad has had the courage to reach across the aisle to find common ground and get things done.”

Ashford said the designation reflects his relationships with former colleagues. “It’s very gratifying to me, quite frankly, to have their confidence,” he said. Randall Adkins, a political science professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said the designation will likely serve as a cue to Democratic donors that they should give money to Ashford’s campaign. But he said it could backfire on Ashford if primary voters see the designation as special treatment from the national political party.

Adkins said that although he hasn’t spoken to the decision-makers, offering support to Ashford likely comes down to two reasons. “They’re being strategic, and they’re looking at this and they’re saying, one, we think he has the best chance of winning,” he said. “The other thing is, a lot of politics is about relationships, and Brad built relationships with the people making those lists.”

Ashford was on the red-to-blue list during his 2014 campaign, though in that year there was not a similarly competitive primary. Then, in the general election, the national campaign committee spent about $1 million on the Ashford-Terry matchup.