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Terry to gradually heat up campaign

As two Democrats battle for the right to face U.S. Rep. Lee Terry, the incumbent has been free to raise money, meet voters and focus on the general election in November.

Terry, 46, a five-term incumbent, does have a primary opponent — Steven Laird of Omaha, who also ran in 2006.

Laird has not run a visible campaign. He's declined invitations to forums, made no public appearances and has not returned phone calls. He has not filed reports with the Federal Election Commission, which requires candidates to report campaign funds if they raise more than $5,000.

Terry has nearly $500,000 in the bank. Since early this year, he has been airing radio ads as part of a "slow burn" strategy set to heat up after the primaries.

"We're showing up to events, meeting as many constituents as my schedule allows and doing a little bit of radio to get the issues out there," Terry said. "I don't take anything for granted."

Terry's early campaigning will focus on his record representing the Omaha-area 2nd Congressional District, said David Boomer, his campaign manager.

"He did start earlier than usual on radio ads. That was very deliberate, to let voters know that he's continuing to work hard for them," Boomer said.

Terry said his campaign has met its fundraising goals so far.

He holds a substantial lead in money over the two Democrats bidding for his seat — Jim Esch, who ran for the seat in 2006, and Richard Carter, an Air Force veteran and political newcomer. Esch said he has about $75,000 in the bank, while Carter said he had about $3,000 left to spend.

"When we wrote our plan last year, this is exactly where we wanted to be in terms of cash," Terry said.

Both parties will hold primaries on May 13.

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