‘Dang straight’ it was Rep. Lee Terry’s fatal flaw

Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

Rep. Lee Terry

Early voters, protest votes and one of the state’s most controversial TV ads ever all played a significant role in GOP Congressman Lee Terry’s loss to Democrat Brad Ashford but they weren’t the linchpin.

No, according to Democratic and Republican party sources, in a landslide year for the GOP it was Terry’s own tongue that truly did him in.

During the campaign’s stretch run —in commercial after commercial, mail piece after mail piece— Omaha voters were reminded that Congressman Terry, in his own words had, “a nice house and a kid in college” and “Dang straight” he wouldn’t be giving up his paycheck during last year’s government shutdown.

Anti-Terry mail piece

Terry had quickly apologized for the gaffe but from the moment those words first showed up on the pages of the Omaha World-Herald in October, 2013 Democrats knew they’d hit the mother lode.

Terry had stumbled before during his 16 years on Capitol Hill—from a broken promise to serve only 3-terms in office to his vote for the 2008 big bank bailout which cost him a big batch of conservative votes he’d never get back— but “nice house…kid in college” was, different—better yet for his opponents, unheard of.

“Voters already think politicians are selfish,” said one source adding that Terry simply confirmed those suspicions.

And while, in many an interview, Terry would say he was sorry and tell Nebraska Watchdog the verbal blunder was, “One of the few moments in life I wish I had over again,” there was one step he didn’t take: A look-the-voter-in-the-face TV ad, a kind of mass media mea culpa.

GOP and Democratic sources aren’t sure it would have helped. But they doubt it would have hurt.

And if Terry had never said what he said? Well, even one key Democratic insider is convinced that without that single sentence Terry would be heading for a 9th term.

Contact Joe Jordan at joe@nebraskawatchdog.org.

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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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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