Election Day 2022: Republicans sweep Nebraska’s top races
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Republicans claimed victory across Nebraska and much of Iowa on Tuesday as voters in both states joined millions across the nation to cast their ballots for the Midterm Election.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds won a swift victory on Tuesday, with the night’s earliest ballot counts clinching the Republican’s second re-election. Hours later, Nebraska’s gubernatorial election was called for Republican Jim Pillen.
Nebraska’s hard-fought 2nd Congressional District race was called early Wednesday for incumbent Republican Don Bacon. Hours earlier, Republican Congressman Mike Flood earned his own full term Tuesday night in Nebraska’s 1st District.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley also won his latest re-election bid, while three of the state’s four Congressional Districts were also called for GOP candidates Tuesday night. Iowa’s 3rd District race remained contentious into the early hours of Wednesday, with Democratic incumbent Cindy Axne trailing GOP challenger Zach Nunn by about 2,000 votes.
Polls in Iowa opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday; Nebraska voters got started at 8 a.m. Both states shut polls at 8 p.m. That’s a first for Iowa polls; they have previously closed at 9 p.m. for general elections.
Across Douglas County on Tuesday, about 2,000 poll workers were watching over 212 polling places in 231 precincts as voters make their selections among 149 candidates up for 90 different offices.
Douglas County has 359,151 registered voters. Of those, 127,593 are Republican; 135,360 are Democrats; 5,812 are Libertarian; 1,372 are with the Legal Marijuana Now party; and 89,014 are nonpartisan.
Election officials expected polls to be busiest from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday.
Results posted Tuesday night will be preliminary, not final or official. Early ballots dropped off on Tuesday will likely be counted on Friday along with provisional ballots. County counts become official once they are certified by the election commissioner; state race tallies are certified by the Secretary of State.
ELECTION NIGHT RESULTS
Results as of 11:20 p.m. Tuesday with 501 of 1,323 precincts fully reporting in Nebraska.
Nebraskans will be waiting to hear who will take over the state’s top office as Gov. Pete Ricketts terms out: Republican Agribusinessman Jim Pillen or State Sen. Carol Blood. As voters consider a number of issues as they head to the polls — from abortion to Voter ID, from student debt relief to school aid as well as state taxes and spending — some are also weighing Pillen’s refusal to debate his opponent.
NBC called the race for Pillen at about 9:15 p.m. Tuesday.
- Pillen: 60%
- Blood: 36%
Some of Tuesday night’s local races were closely watched around the nation as Republicans look to gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democrats fight to hold on to their majority. In the Omaha-metro, that comes down to a hard-fought race in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District between GOP incumbent Rep. Don Bacon and Democrat Tony Vargas.
Vargas was leading in early ballot totals, but AP called the race for Bacon just after 1 a.m. Wednesday.
- Bacon: 52% with 103,760 votes
- Vargas: 48% with 97,200 votes
This race was a rematch — and a repeat. Republican Mike Flood won the special election earlier this year to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. He again faced Democrat Patty Pansing Brooks for Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District, earning the seat for himself this time around.
AP called the race for Flood just after 11 p.m. Tuesday.
- Flood: 58%
- Pansing Brooks: 42%
Below are the results as of 11:45 p.m. Tuesday.
Aaron Hanson and Greg Gonzalez and their supporters have made the race for Douglas County Sheriff very contentious. The two candidates participated in a heated debate a few weeks ago.
- Hanson: 51% with 85,818 votes
- Gonzalez: 49% with 82,647 votes
Below are the results as of 11:45 p.m. Tuesday.
Democrat Dave Pantos has been campaigning to unseat incumbent Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine, who switched his party affiliation to Republican in 2020. The incumbent pulled ahead in later ballot count updates.
- Kleine: 58%
- Pantos: 42%
Democrat Deidre DeJear challenged incumbent Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who was seeking her second full term. Unlike the Nebraska gubernatorial candidates, these two met for a debate about three weeks ago. DeJear was also in Council Bluffs campaigning last month, and Reynolds joined other GOP candidates at a rally hosted by former President Trump last week in Sioux City.
Reynolds’ victory was the first race called in our coverage area, with AP declaring 2nd term win solidified just a few minutes after the polls closed.
- DeJear: 39%
- Reynolds: 58%
Republican incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley was also at Trump’s rally last week in Sioux City — the home turf of his opponent, Democrat Mike Franken, a retired Navy admiral. The two also debated last month in Des Moines.’
NBC called Grassley’s race around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.
- Grassley: 56%
- Franken: 44%
Redistricting has pulled Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne’s district mostly out of the Council Bluffs-metro area. She faces Republican Zach Nunn in the race for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.
- Axne: 50%
- Nunn: 50%
In the 4th District, Republican incumbent Randy Feenstra is being challenged by Democrat Ryan Melton. AP called the race for Feenstra at about 10:15 p.m. Tuesday.
- Feenstra: 67%
- Melton: 30%
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