Less than 24 hours before polls opened Republicans converged on the Alliance Municipal Airport. Many in the packed room may have never seen any of the lawmakers in person, much less the array in person as they filed into the meeting room. On a last minute campaign flight, Alliance was one of the stops on a statewide tour. Traveling together: Governor Pete Ricketts, Senators Ben Sasse and Deb Fischer, and Congressmen Adrian Smith (Third District) and Jeff Fortenberry (First District). Each lawmaker offered brief remarks.
The Republican contingent praised Nebraska and the party’s role. Job starts and unemployment have been among the successes, with praise for Ricketts and efforts by his office.
Sasse was the only one not on the ballot. He referenced Nebraska’s small numbers in the House. However, he said power can be found in places such as Smith’s seat on the Ways and Means Committee and Appropriations Committee where Fortenberry serves.
The rest of the group laughed as Fortenberry opened with a joke, citing familiarity of traveling together. He told of a bumper sticker at his house with Carhenge, which he visited this past summer. “We have a unity in our state,” he said. Fortenberry said there is a choice in America, “between strife and solution” and several other contrasts.
He introduced Fischer. Nothing’s going on and nothing’s happening, she said of the perception of politics. “That’s just not true,” Fischer said. Of the current Administration, she described progress made since President Donald Trump was elected, such as a bill giving military the first pay increase since 2009. “We’ve had tax cuts, we’re seeing a booming economy,” she said.
In a nod to the terminal where they spoke, Fischer referenced how she and Smith have worked to continue essential air service. She mentioned issues “that don’t get a lot of play” but are important in Nebraska. Fischer said she is rated the 13th most effective senator. She is also well traveled, back in Nebraska most weekends.
Fischer introduced Smith, joking about their friendship and how they text. “You have to have relationships with these guys up here, it’s important,” she said.
“We have a growing economy,” Smith said. “ … we have literally millions of people on the sidelines of our economy … Introducing legislation is one thing … it’s important to engage with our state governments.”
Smith described the importance of growing trade. “I’m glad we’re starting to see a trade agreement with Japan,” he said, emphasizing the goal to remove a tariff on beef. “That’s why it’s important to have Nebraska pro-business,” he said.
Ricketts spoke last, saying this election is especially important. He described Trump’s first two years as the most successful in the past 100 years. ”For every one (Trump put in) they’ve taken 22 out,” Rickets said. “We’ve had some of the lowest unemployment in our country’s history.”
Having the right policies in place leads to success, Ricketts said. “There is a very stark contrast we have for the vision we have for Nebraska and America,” he said, listing situations such as health care for all. “It’s something that should be between us and our doctors.” He said the opposition is not pro-life and some support abortion “up to the day before it’s born. … That’s not who we are in Nebraska, we’re a pro-life state.”
Ricketts encouraged everyone in the room to vote “10 times,” by recruiting nine others to go to the polls.
The lawmakers spent at least another 20 minutes talking to their constituents before boarding the plane for the next stop.