Ashford finds Capitol Dome’s separate dinner checks hard to swallow


Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

What does President Obama’s immigration overhaul have in common with a big-shot dinner in D.C.?

Congressman-elect Brad Ashford meets the press shortly after defeating 8-term incumbent Lee Terry.

Well for Congressman-elect Brad Ashford both are a blast of cold air to one of his key campaign promises: ending Washington’s left-right politics of paralysis.

While Ashford opposes the president’s maneuver to end-run Congress through an executive order—making 5 million undocumented immigrants deportation-free for the next three years—the Democrat is also bothered by Congress’ lack of compromise.

“It’s sort of old news…years of failure to work together on immigration,” Ashford tells Nebraska Watchdog.

Which takes us to a “startling” dinner, under the Capitol Dome a few days after the election—Republicans at one end, Democrats the other.

“No wonder nothing gets done, we don’t even eat together,” said Ashford.

But the inter-party fighting isn’t reserved for Washington. Only hours after his Election Day win, Nebraska’s GOP Chairman, J.L. Spray, was targeting Ashford for defeat come 2016.

Spray telling Nebraska Watchdog he’s not sure what party switcher Ashford who “runs for everything under the sun” stands for, while predicting that Omaha’s new minority-mired congressman will have “an office in a closet” on Capitol Hill.

While Ashford outdid the closet, he’s on the first floor of the Cannon House Office building, a self-inflicted snafu cost him an even better choice. The soon-to-be former state lawmaker laughs off the incident— “Unlike my (State Capitol) office in Lincoln, at least the paint won’t be falling from the ceiling”—adding he’s found a home in the Common Ground Caucus.

Brad Ashford: It’s moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats.

Nebraska Watchdog: Are these the “25 friends” you talked about finding during the campaign?

Brad Ashford: Right. It’s no longer Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic Party. She’s the leader, that hasn’t changed, but the members of the caucus are looking for a different direction. They’re for the pipeline, for immigration reform but would like to see a debate on it as opposed to having the president decide it.

One key Republican that Ashford wants to meet is House Speaker John Boehner. Immediately following his win Ashford told Nebraska Watchdog he was “going to get to know” Boehner.

Several days later…

Nebraska Watchdog: Did you ever have a chance to meet with John Boehner?

Brad Ashford: I haven’t found him yet. He walked by me on the way to the Republican dinner. I’ll find him.

Nebraska Watchdog: Is there a Republican or two you were able to warm up to?

Brad Ashford: Mia Love (Congress’ first black Republican woman), she’s terrific. I met with her.

While Ashford remains confident that although Democrats are badly outnumbered, he’ll be able to work with Republicans and “be part of legislation from the very beginning” he admits some old House-habits appear hard to break.

During freshman orientation the rookies were given explicit instructions regarding use of Congress’ franking—free mail—privileges.

According to Ashford if they have any follow-up questions there’s a number to call, actually a couple of numbers.

“There was one number for Democrats to call and another number for Republicans to call,” Ashford tells Nebraska Watchdog. “Can’t we just call the same number?”

Contact Joe Jordan at

Joe can be heard on Omaha’s KFAB radio every Monday morning at 7:40, KLIN in Lincoln every Tuesday morning at 7:35 and KHAS-AM in Hastings every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

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