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Contentious legislative races about to wrap up

Following a contentious pandemic protracted legislative session, it should come as no surprise that campaigning for half of the seats in the Legislature has – in some cases -- turned ugly, very ugly.
If the race between incumbent Julie Slama and challenger Janet Palmtag in southeast Nebraska’s First District were a TV game show it would be called “Whose Republican Party Is It Anyway?”
Both women are Republicans. Slama, a law college student, was appointed to the seat by Governor Pete Ricketts. Palmtag has the endorsements of former Gov. Dave Heineman, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry and former District One State Senators Roger Wehrbein of Plattsmouth and Dave Pankonin of Louisville.
The Nebraska Public Service Commission is investigating the Nebraska Republican Party for illegal robocalls that falsely claimed Palmtag was lying about the endorsements. The commission issued a cease and desist order against the party.
That’s the same Republican Party that was called out early in the campaign for a controversial mailer linking Palmtag with “extreme” Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha. A photo-shopped picture of the two – they’ve never met – was included and termed “race-baiting” by Heineman and others. Ricketts responded that it was appropriate political comment.
The PSC complaint said: the Nebraska Republican Party failed to file the required legal disclaimer with a phone number, web address or mailing address of the caller; failed to file a copy of the script with the PSC within 24 hours of placing the calls; did not have a permit to operate robocalls within the State of Nebraska.
The Nebraska Accountability & Disclosure Commission is also investigating illegal coordination of $75,000 in political donations by the party to the Slama campaign.
In the 49th District, a race between a Republican incumbent and the Democrat challenger who actually outpolled him in the primary, also featured a questionable mailer. Another Ricketts appointee, Sen. Andrew La Grone of Gretna is running against Jen Day, a Democrat who owns a southwest Omaha strength and conditioning gym.
Day objected to a La Grone brochure sent out recently that described her as “too extreme” and unwilling to do what’s necessary to keep families safe. Those charges are inaccurate, she said, because she has two young sons and every reason to back law enforcement and public safety.


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