Mike Flood announces

SEN. MIKE FLOOD of Norfolk announced Sunday afternoon that he is seeking to replace U.S. Red. Jeff Fortenberry in the 1st Congressional District.

With U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry fighting felony charges in California, state Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk announced Sunday afternoon that he is seeking to replace him in the 1st Congressional District.

Flood is the first Republican to announce that he is running for the seat held since 2005 by the 61-year-old Lincoln resident.

“Republicans have to retake the House majority to restore a check on Joe Biden's power and begin to take back our country from the far left,” Flood told a group of supporters Sunday afternoon at the state Capitol. “Failure is not an option, and there is no margin for error. The battle for House control runs right through Nebraska's 1st Congressional District. This is a race we have to win to save America.

“But if our Republican nominee is waging a battle against prosecutors in a courtroom out of state instead of campaigning here in the 1st District, this seat is in jeopardy. If our nominee has to focus on beating felony criminal charges instead of defeating a serious Democrat opponent, we risk defeat in November,” Flood said.

When asked if he would be running if Fortenberry had not been indicted, Flood replied, “What occurred here has put his seat in jeopardy.”

Fortenberry is accused of concealing campaign finance information and making false statements to federal authorities. It is alleged he accepted $30,000 of illegal campaign funds during a 2016 election event in California.

Democrats state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks and Jazari Kual have announced they are running for the seat as well.

Flood was joined by his wife, Mandi, and their two sons, Brenden and Blake. Flood said he has his family’s support.

“Some of you may remember that, in 2012, I put my name forward to become Nebraska's next governor. On the very evening I announced my campaign, Mandi detected a lump in her breast and was shortly thereafter diagnosed with breast cancer. I ended that campaign to take care of her and our boys. We thank God for Mandi's full recovery,” Flood said.

In 2020, Flood ran again and was elected to represent the legislative district that includes Madison County and Woodland Park.

He is a graduate of Norfolk Catholic High School and received a bachelor of arts from the University of Notre Dame in 1997 and a law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2001.

He was elected to the Nebraska Legislature in 2005 and served until 2013 when he had to leave because of term limits. When he was in the Legislature during his first eight years — including as speaker of the Legislature — Flood was involved with the passage of about 150 bills.

Flood championed the sanctity of life, helped usher in tax relief and was known for brokering compromises on some of the most difficult issues facing the Legislature. He also started a business, Flood Communications, and grew from one radio station, US-92, into a statewide network of 15 radio stations and five TV stations called News Channel Nebraska.

“We saw a need, and we did something about it,” Flood said. “We've created hundreds of jobs along the way.”

Flood said he respects Rep. Fortenberry and thinks the Republican Party will be the better because of the challenge. In the past, the Republican Party has benefited from incumbents challenged in the primary, he said.

“It is clear to anybody paying attention that, today, our nation stands at a crossroads,” Flood said. “Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are using the House of Representatives to ram through a radical, socialist agenda that would destroy the nation we love.

“With just a razor-thin majority, they have claimed a mandate to pass trillions of dollars in big-government giveaways, raise our taxes, grow government's power, seize control of our elections and wage partisan witch hunts that are tearing our country apart. Currently, only two Democrat votes in the Senate stand between the radical left and the achievement of their most radical goals,” Flood said.

Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District covers part or all of 12 eastern Nebraska counties. It includes Bellevue, La Vista, most of Papillion, Lincoln, Columbus, Fremont and Norfolk, among other communities.

A former member of Lincoln’s City Council, Fortenberry was first elected to Congress in 2004 after emerging from a crowd of seven Republican candidates in the primary race to replace then-Rep. Doug Bereuter.

Since then, Fortenberry has largely sailed to reelection over poorly funded Democratic opponents. Even in 2020 when Fortenberry faced former Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz, a candidate some political observers viewed as a serious contender for the seat, Fortenberry won with nearly 60% of the vote. (Republicans have held the 1st District seat since 1967.)

However, he has had to weather fewer challenges from members of his own party. Only a handful of Republican candidates have challenged Fortenberry, and they all lost by tens of thousands of votes.

On Saturday, Fortenberry issued a release with a range of endorsements, including Lt. Gov. Mike Foley, Nebraska Right to Life Executive Director Sandy Danek and Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning.

“I’m pleased to have deep support throughout the 1st District, and I’m honored by these endorsements,” Fortenberry said. “Many people have asked how they can express their support for my reelection. These endorsements are just a start of our plan to engage voters and communicate my strong record of accomplishments for Nebraska and America.”

Nebraska Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kleeb issued the following statement Sunday after Flood’s announcement.

“This is the first crack in the GOP firewall,” Kleeb said. “The Republicans like to pretend that Jeff Fortenberry is not in trouble — which is a fantasy. This is a generational opportunity for Democrats to win the CD1 seat by sending state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks or Jazari Kual to Washington, D.C., with new ideas and hope. We certainly don’t need a flood of more bad ideas from the GOP.”

Norfolk last had a representative in Congress from 1935 to 1951 when Karl Stefan represented the 3rd District followed by another Norfolkan, Robert Dinsmore Harrison, who served from 1951 to 1959. Harrison owned an oil business in Norfolk and a farm in Cedar County and served on the Norfolk School Board from 1942 to 1951.

Story updated 8:52 a.m. Jan. 17, with more information. 


Original story posted 3:10 p.m. Jan. 16. 

With U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry fighting felony charges in California, state Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk announced Sunday afternoon that he is seeking to replace him in the 1st Congressional District.

Flood is the first Republican to announce that he is running for the seat held since 2005 by the 61-year-old Lincoln resident.

“Republicans have to retake the House majority to restore a check on Joe Biden's power and begin to take back our country from the far left,” Flood told a group of supporters Sunday afternoon at the state Capitol. “Failure is not an option, and there is no margin for error. The battle for House control runs right through Nebraska's 1st Congressional District. This is a race we have to win to save America.

“But if our Republican nominee is waging a battle against prosecutors in a courtroom out of state instead of campaigning here in the 1st District, this seat is in jeopardy. If our nominee has to focus on beating felony criminal charges instead of defeating a serious Democrat opponent, we risk defeat in November,” Flood said.

When asked if he would be running if Fortenberry had not been indicted, Flood replied, “What occurred here has put his seat in jeopardy.”

Fortenberry is accused of concealing campaign finance information and making false statements to federal authorities. It is alleged he accepted $30,000 of illegal campaign funds during a 2016 election event in California.

Democrats state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks and Jazari Kual have announced they are running for the seat as well.

Flood was joined by his wife, Mandi, and their two sons, Brenden and Blake. Flood said he has his family’s support.

“Some of you may remember that, in 2012, I put my name forward to become Nebraska's next governor. On the very evening I announced my campaign, Mandi detected a lump in her breast and was shortly thereafter diagnosed with breast cancer. I ended that campaign to take care of her and our boys. We thank God for Mandi's full recovery,” Flood said.

In 2020, Flood ran again and was elected to represent the legislative district that includes Madison County and Woodland Park.

He is a graduate of Norfolk Catholic High School and received a bachelor of arts from the University of Notre Dame in 1997 and a law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2001.

He was elected to the Nebraska Legislature in 2005 and served until 2013 when he had to leave because of term limits. When he was in the Legislature during his first eight years, Flood was involved with the passage of about 150 bills.

Flood championed the sanctity of life, helped usher in tax relief and was known for brokering compromises on some of the most difficult issues facing the Legislature. He also started a business, Flood Communications, and grew from one radio station, US-92, into a statewide network of 15 radio stations and five TV stations called News Channel Nebraska.

“We saw a need, and we did something about it,” Flood said. “We've created hundreds of jobs along the way.”

Flood said he respects Rep. Fortenberry and thinks the Republican Party will be the better because of the challenge. In the past, the Republican Party has benefited from incumbents challenged in the primary, he said.

“It is clear to anybody paying attention that, today, our nation stands at a crossroads,” Flood said. “Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are using the House of Representatives to ram through a radical, socialist agenda that would destroy the nation we love.

“With just a razor-thin majority, they have claimed a mandate to pass trillions of dollars in big-government giveaways, raise our taxes, grow government's power, seize control of our elections and wage partisan witch hunts that are tearing our country apart. Currently, only two Democrat votes in the Senate stand between the radical left and the achievement of their most radical goals,” Flood said.

On Saturday, Rep. Fortenberry issued a release with a range of endorsements, including Lt. Gov. Mike Foley, Nebraska Right to Life Executive Director Sandy Danek and Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning.

“I’m pleased to have deep support throughout the 1st District, and I’m honored by these endorsements,” Fortenberry said. “Many people have asked how they can express their support for my reelection. These endorsements are just a start of our plan to engage voters and communicate my strong record of accomplishments for Nebraska and America.”

Nebraska Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kleeb issued the following statement Sunday after Flood’s announcement.

“This is the first crack in the GOP firewall,” Kleeb said. “The Republicans like to pretend that Jeff Fortenberry is not in trouble — which is a fantasy. This is a generational opportunity for Democrats to win the CD1 seat by sending state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks or Jazari Kual to Washington, D.C., with new ideas and hope. We certainly don’t need a flood of more bad ideas from the GOP.”

Norfolk last had a representative in Congress from 1935 to 1951 when Karl Stefan represented the 3rd District followed by another Norfolkan, Robert Dinsmore Harrison, who served from 1951 to 1959. Harrison owned an oil business in Norfolk and a farm in Cedar County and served on the Norfolk School Board from 1942 to 1951.

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