National, Nebraska Dems spending $80k on a Nebraska political staffer

National, Nebraska Dems spending $80k on a Nebraska political staffer
The Nebraska Democratic Party opened a new office in south-central Omaha on Tuesday, March 19. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)
June 12th, 2024 | by Aaron Sanderford, Nebraska Examiner

OMAHA — National Democrats are investing some green in helping the Nebraska Democratic Party reach voters in and beyond the purplest congressional district in a red-led state. Nebraska voters in the state’s 2nd Congressional District will face a rematch between Democratic State Sen. Tony Vargas, left, and U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb. (Courtesy of the candidates; Capitol photo by Jennifer Shutt/States Newsroom)

The Democratic National Committee announced Monday that it will spend $40,000 to fund a political staffer who will work with national, state and local Democrats in Nebraska. 

Jane Kleeb, the chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, said the Nebraska Democrats raised another $40,000 locally to pay the same staffer, who will help them with legislative elections in rural Nebraska.

“We now have enough resources to hire somebody full-time and make sure that they have resources to do organizing,” she said. 

Nebraska voters in the state’s 2nd Congressional District will face a rematch between Democratic State Sen. Tony Vargas (left) and U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb. (Photos courtesy of the candidates; Capitol photo by Jennifer Shutt/States Newsroom)

Rebuilding a blue party in red states

It is the latest step in a multi-year process of the DNC trying to help rebuild the party in rural states. This cycle alone, the DNC has spent more than $510,000 in Nebraska.

Kleeb has spent much of her seven-year tenure trying to persuade the national party to increase its annual support for state parties. Spending is up 25% since January 2021.

DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison has described this push as a 50-state strategy, fighting back against single-party GOP rule in largely rural states.

“Today’s announced investment in the Nebraska State Democratic Party shows that priority in action,” he said in a statement to the Nebraska Examiner. 

“Nebraska Democrats have fought tirelessly to better the lives of Nebraskans and defend against Trump and Republicans’ extreme agenda,” Harrison said.

Helping in 2nd District and rural races

Much of the staffer’s time will be spent helping Democratic State Sen. Tony Vargas in the rural slices of his Omaha-based 2nd District House race against Republican U.S. Rep. Don Bacon. One emphasis point will be Saunders County, officials said.

The new political organizer will work to help turn out Democratic voters in local and state races, particularly in rural races with Democrats down the ballot, the Democrats said.

The staffer also will help President Joe Biden’s bid against former President Donald Trump’s attempt to win back the single Electoral College vote that Biden won in 2020.

Nebraska, like Maine, awards an electoral vote to the winner of the presidential popular vote in each of its congressional districts. The statewide winner receives two more.

Nebraska Democratic Party chair Jane Kleeb, at left,  addresses a crowd of more than 40 Democrats gathered to hear second gentleman Doug Emhoff speak. To her right is 1st District Democratic House candidate State Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

Republicans in the state’s officially nonpartisan Legislature want to shift Nebraska’s method of awarding those votes to winner-take-all, which would benefit Trump.

Democratic state lawmakers in Maine have said if Nebraska does make that change, they might cancel out the action by doing the same thing, which would benefit Biden.  

A spokeswoman for the Nebraska Republican Party said Sunday that the Republican National Committee had not funded a Nebraska campaign staffer but that it could.

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 08: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on February 8, 2024 in Washington, DC. Biden addressed the Special Counsel’s report on his handling of classified material, and the status of the war in Gaza. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Both the Biden and Trump campaigns have started adding staff in the state as well. 

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