Terry leads White in fundraising

Published Wednesday January 28, 2010: By Robynn Tysver, WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

Republican Rep. Lee Terry appears to have a tailwind at his back as he enters 2010, especially after raising a solid $281,000 in the final months of last year.

Democrat Tom White raised $176,000 in the fourth quarter of last year, according to campaign finance reports released Wednesday by the candidates.

Terry, the six-term incumbent, and White, a state senator, are battling for the Omaha-based 2nd Congressional District seat.

The election is set for Nov. 2.

White said he may not have raised as much as Terry, but he raised enough to be competitive. He said he is well on his way to raising $1 million, the amount he says he needs to unseat Terry.

“He’s an incumbent. I’m a challenger,” White said. “Mr. Terry raised more money because he’s part of the Washington machine, and he gets special interest money.”

Terry said he worked hard to raise money last year and has heard that White also worked hard to raise dollars.

“I’ll be well-funded, and I’ll continue to push every button necessary to have a victory in November,” Terry said. He has said he hopes to equal the $1.8 million he raised in 2008.

The Terry-White matchup is expected to be Nebraska’s premier political event this year. Whether the race will garner national interest and national dollars is questionable.

Democrats may be forced to spend more time this election year saving their incumbents than going after sitting Republicans, said Randy Adkins, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

“If the Democrats were playing offense, this is a district that would be on their target. But they’re probably going to be spending their money protecting vulnerable incumbents,” Adkins said.

White said he continues to believe the race will receive national attention.

He noted that Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is set to attend a fundraiser on White’s behalf on Friday in Omaha.

White also said the DCCC has the Terry-White race in its top 17 to watch this year, which puts it in a good position to secure national dollars.

He said the political environment makes his race even more competitive. It is not Democrats who are in trouble nationally, he said, but incumbents.

Terry said the political winds have changed, and Democrats are now scrambling to protect seats.

The Rothenberg Political Report, written by political analysts who monitor congressional races, downgraded the competitiveness of the Terry-White race last week.

The 2nd District race was listed as “likely” to remain in GOP hands, removing it from the “leaning Republican” category.

“I don’t know if it’s going to bring in national money that I originally thought it would,” Terry said of the contest. “It seems to be on everybody’s radar, but it’s just not the buzz anymore when Tom White got into the race.”

Terry said his biggest strength may be among independents worried that Democrats have too much power in Washington, D.C.

“People in Nebraska don’t want to put somebody in there who is going to help (Speaker) Nancy Pelosi,” Terry said.

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