Lee Tary, Brad Ashford square off in second congressional debate


By Kelly Langin, Contributor

Lee Terry and Brad Ashford talked dirty campaign advertisements and elaborated on their positions in the country’s most important issues in the final debate for Nebraska’s second congressional district held at the Omaha Press Club on Oct. 16.
Ashford’s campaign advertisement attacks Terry’s stance on continuing to get paid during last year’s government shutdown. During the debate, however, Ashford, the Democratic candidate vying for a seat in the House of Representatives, did not elaborate on the claims of his advertisement. Instead, he pointed out Congress’ inability to work together, a popular theme in the last debate in September.
“Congress is broken,” said Ashford. He said Congress is only in session 92 days out of the legislative session, which is not enough time to make important decisions on the tough issues.
Terry, Ashford’s Republican opponent, did not shy away from pointing out the issue of the problems with the Good Time law his advertisement focuses on. The 16-year congressman alluded to a hearing held last year where several people testified that prisoners were being released early. He said Ashford did nothing about the testimonies and claimed he didn’t know about any prison-related problems.
“In the summer, there was a streak of horrible violence. That should have told him there was a problem,” Terry said, hinting at the fear caused by the early release of Nikko Jenkins, a murderer released last year as a result of the Good Time system. His political advertisement shames Ashford’s policies while displaying Jenkins’ mugshot.
Terry then said although the public was “crying for reforms” of the Good Time Law, none of the bills were passed and Ashford “purposely bottled them up.”
“Nobody has a better record on public safety than I do,” Ashford replied, citing an Omaha World-Herald editorial. He said he has worked on prison reform since February of last year.
The Omaha World-Herald reported Friday the race between Terry and Ashford is believed to be the most amount both Republican and Democratic parties in Congress have spent on a Nebraska race, estimated at a total of $2 million. The most visual product of this expensive campaign is the television advertisements designed mainly to tear down the opponent instead of noting his own policies.
Throughout his campaign, Ashford mentioned the importance of working across the aisle for bipartisan outcomes on issues, but a new approach in Ashford’s tactic focused on friendship. He said more than once during the debate he will “find 25 friends” his first day as a congressman.
Terry and Ashford highlighted their disagreements that were mentioned in the debate in September. Terry often condemned Ashford’s supposed refusal to let important bills pass through his committee. In turn, Ashford insinuated Terry’s role in Congress’s tendency to repeal bills many times without actually reforming them.
Ashford believes the government should work to train the Free Syrian Army for defense against ISIL. Terry, however, believes the government should not train the Free Syrian Army for fear of accidentally “training our enemy of tomorrow.”
Terry reiterated his position of focusing on job training before individuals can earn higher wages. Ashford agreed that job training is vital but mentioned his popular stance on raising the minimum wage as a step toward minimizing the income gap.