Douglas County Democrats deny Sen. McDonnell delegate voting role in party

Party officials say some of his beliefs don’t align with the party’s values.
Douglas County Democratic Party members have taken a stand against a state senator whose values they say don't align with those of the party.
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 9:59 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A Democratic state senator is being denied a voting role in the Douglas County Democratic Party as members believe some of his beliefs don’t align with the party’s values.

Senator Mike McDonnell has been in the Nebraska legislature since 2016 and represents a portion of Omaha. McDonnell is a former Omaha fire chief, and a member of the Democratic party.

Wednesday night, the Douglas County Democratic Party took a stance against the senator.

“He was eligible to be seated as a voting delegate and the members of the committee voted against him,” says CJ King, chair of the party. “He is still allowed to attend all the meetings, speak, and have a voice there, the only difference is he’s not a voting member.”

Voting delegates of the central committee are the party’s decision-makers, helping with the party’s platform. They help decided who and what the party supports.

King says there’s a big reason why McDonnell, a lifelong Democrat, wasn’t chosen to be one of those decision-makers.

“It boiled down to his positions on a couple of bills, most specifically the fetal heartbeat bill and the transgender bills, I call them the transphobia bills,” He says. “The fact that he was a sponsor on those three bills, and they’re in conflict with the platform that the party embraces.”

McDonnell is the sole Democrat in the legislature that is supporting and co-sponsoring the bills: LB574, LB575, and LB626.

He spoke with 6 News Thursday afternoon.

“When I ran in 2016 I was pro-life from conception to natural death, and that has not changed and it’s not going to change,” McDonnell says. “I think we can agree to disagree but if they want to invite me back in the future, I’ll attend,” he says in response to the party’s decision not to elect him to that role.

King, however, makes it clear the vote wasn’t unanimous.

“Some of the group stated that while we don’t agree with his position, we feel it’s appropriate that he sits on here and have a voice, and others said his position is so far antithetical to the party platform that we can’t allow him to have that voice, so I guess there’s a spectrum of frustration on that,” King says.

Political insiders tell us McDonnell is strongly considering a Mayoral run in 2025, though he wouldn’t confirm that with 6 News Thursday.

“If I decide to run for Mayor or not decide to run for Mayor, I’m not going to base my votes in the Unicameral on possibly running for Mayor or any office in the future,” he says.

And after Wednesday’s vote within the Douglas County Democratic party, if he does run, would the party support him?

“Our policy is and always has been that we support all democrats in a primary,” King says. “If there are multiple Democrats running, we try to give them equal access and support. No action was taken last night that looks at something in the future, this was looking specifically at him being seated in the central committee and the vote was no, so we’ve taken no action and we have no plans of taking action at this time in regards to a Mayor’s race that’s a couple of years from now.”

“Am I concerned we’re divided? I think it’s healthy, we always have some levels of division, there’s always some healthy discourse and I don’t think the party is hurting itself from hearing from opposing parties and taking action consistent with the rules we put in place,” King adds.