Festersen Says Shutdown Prompted Him To Run For Congress

Omaha City Council President Pete Festersen announced Sunday that he will run for Congress in 2014.

“There’s widespread dissatisfaction with Congress and its inability to address our nation’s challenges. Change is needed and we need people in Washington who can work together to get things done. That’s been my track record in business and in public service and will be my approach to cutting spending, growing our economy and protecting seniors.”

Festersen will run for the congressional seat currently held by Republican Lee Terry. When contacted by WOWT 6 News about Festersen's decision, Terry declined comment. An eight-term congressman, Terry may also face a primary challenge from former State Sen. Chip Maxwell of Omaha, who says he's exploring a run.

Last weekend, Terry apologized for comments he made about continuing to be paid during the government shutdown while many federal workers are not receiving a paycheck. "I've got a nice house and a kid in college and I'll tell you we cannot handle it," Terry told the Omaha World-Herald. "Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That's just not going to fly.”

Terry said last Sunday he was ashamed of those comments and asked that his paycheck be held until furloughed employees get paid.

"I think those comments upset a lot of families in our congressional district and I think they’re symptomatic with Washington being out of touch with our community, but that wasn’t a big factor of why we're running," said Festersen. "We are concerned about Washington’s inability to address our nations challenges. This is no way to run a country.”

Terry's Office declined to comment on Festersen's announcement. They did however, point us toward his fundraising numbers, as reported by the Associated Press. According to the AP, Terry raised $338 thousand in his last quarter and he has $560 thousand on hand. That is a record amount of money for Terry at this point in any of his 8 races.

Festersen said a few months ago it wasn't the right time to run, but he tells WOWT 6 News the deciding factor was the government shutdown. He's frustrated with the inability of Congress to address the situation.

"I think it’s dismal. I think its impacting families substantially in our community like it is across the country, so it's hurting our economy, our families and if we don’t address our debt ceiling and really reduce spending we could see disastrous impacts on our economy and that’s concerning. People are fed up and ready for change. We need folks to work together, build consensus and work across party lines to pass budgets and reduce spending. We shouldn't be at this juncture."

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