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Flood challenges Fortenberry, says indictment puts House seat at risk

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Delivering a strongly conservative message with a vow to "begin to take back our country from the Far Left," Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk announced Sunday that he will challenge embattled Rep. Jeff Fortenberry in the May Republican primary election for the 1st District House seat.

Flood, a former Speaker of the Legislature, announced his candidacy at a news conference in the State Capitol rotunda, arguing that Fortenberry's indictment on charges of allegedly lying to federal officials about illegal foreign contributions that were funneled into his 2016 reelection campaign places Nebraska's 1st District House seat at risk.

"If our Republican nominee is waging a battle against prosecutors in a courtroom out of state instead of campaigning here in the 1st District, this seat is in jeopardy," Flood said.

"If our nominee has to focus on beating felony criminal charges instead of defeating a serious Democrat opponent, we risk defeat in November," he said.

"Today, I am sad to say that Republicans are not on a path to victory here in our district."

Fortenberry, a former Lincoln city councilman, is seeking reelection to the House seat he has held since 2005.

Flood hammered at Democratic policy positions during his announcement, arguing that "Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are using the House of Representatives to ram through a radical, socialist agenda that would destroy the country we love."

"With just a razor-thin majority, they have claimed a mandate to pass trillions of dollars in big-government giveaways, raise our taxes, grow government's power, seize control of our elections and wage partisan witch hunts that are tearing our country apart," he said.

Flood described Biden as "an inept president" and said America's enemies are "emboldened every day by the weakness they see" in him.

If he wins the eastern Nebraska House seat, Flood said, he would "focus on taking the fight to the radical socialists in Congress who threaten our values and our way of life."

Answering questions, Flood said results of polling undertaken in advance of his decision to enter the race gave him "confidence I am going to be successful" in the Republican primary struggle with Fortenberry, who is seeking his 10th term in the House of Representatives.

Flood was accompanied by his wife and their two sons for the announcement that throws a bright spotlight on the 1st District House race.

"The battle for House control runs right through Nebraska's 1st Congressional District," Flood said. "This is a race we have to win to save America."

Flood returned to the Legislature in 2021 after previously serving eight years, including six years as Speaker, before being term-limited out office. He was Speaker from 2007 to 2013.

As founder and CEO of Flood Communications, Flood currently operates a statewide network of 15 radio stations and five TV stations called News Channel Nebraska.

Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks and Jazari Kual, both of Lincoln, are candidates for the Democratic nomination for the House seat.

"The sitting congressman is now being challenged in his own primary, proving that Nebraskans are ready for a change," Pansing Brooks said.

"At the end of the day," she said, "this race is about more than just his indictment. It's about a culture that must change in Washington."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSdon

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