Terry says he's in sync with voters

By DON WALTON / Lincoln Journal Star | Posted: Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Advantage, Lee Terry.

That's what the Omaha congressman believes.

Terry says his views are in sync with voters in his battleground district.

And the composition of next year's voter turnout is likely to benefit him in his bid for re-election, he suggests.

"Big government is going to be a big issue," Terry says, and that will fit into his voting record opposing federal growth.

"People are a little frustrated" with Washington, Terry says during an interview over coffee at a Starbucks in Lincoln.

"Voters want to get spending under control.

"My views and votes are in sync with them."

Terry is on a collision course with Democratic challenger Tom White in metropolitan Omaha's 2nd District.

Their clash will be the big one in Nebraska in 2010 and it'll attract substantial Washington funding targeted by the congressional campaign committees of both parties.

It all feels much better to Terry now than it did last year.

"We can feel the wind at our back instead of the hurricane in our face," the six-term Republican congressman says.

Barack Obama whipped up a storm in the 2nd District in 2008.

Obama's campaign expanded the electorate with a flood of new voters and flipped Douglas County into a Democratic voter registration advantage.

As Obama wrote a little history in claiming the congressional district's presidential electoral vote, Terry managed to swim against the tide.

Dependable Sarpy County Republicans rode to Terry's rescue. And, in the end, he even edged Democratic nominee Jim Esch in Douglas County.

Final results: Terry, 142,473; Esch, 131,901.

History suggests a "more defined" 2nd District electorate in 2010, Terry says.

Many new voters who were attracted to Obama may not vote next year when the president's name is not on the ballot.

That seemed to be the case in New Jersey and Virginia earlier this month when Republicans captured governorships in two states that voted for Obama in 2008, Terry says.

And there's contemporary evidence of an Obama, or Democratic, dropoff contained in the results of this year's Omaha city election.

Although Democrats have almost 20,000 more registered voters in Omaha, slightly more Republicans voted in the mayoral race.

Even without an Obama dropoff, recent election statistics demonstrate Republicans in the 2nd District have been more dependable voters than Democrats have been in off-presidential election years.

Terry says the growth and reach of the federal government in Obama's first year has alarmed voters in his district.

"They are mostly right of center -- even Obama voters -- and they lean more conservative," he says.

In voting against the Democratic health care reform package and standing in opposition to Obama's cap-and-trade plan to reduce carbon emissions, Terry says, he's "doing what Nebraskans want and expect."

His constituents want to "empower individuals and not government," Terry says. "And keep federal spending under control."

"There's been incredible spending and unrestrained government" during Obama's first year.

Even though he serves in a Republican minority in the House, Terry says, he still is able to exercise influence and power within the committee structure.

"I've always had Democratic partners in everything I've done."


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