Terry-Ashford debate sets stage for nasty TV ads in Omaha House race


Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

You can almost see the next round of nasty TV ads:

  • Democrat Brad Ashford “coddles criminals” and will raise your taxes.
  • Republican Lee Terry hates poor people.

Rep. Lee Terry

AP Photo

State Sen. Brad Ashford

That’s the fall-out from their Thursday night debate, the first of two— one more is scheduled for mid-October.

Ashford, a state senator criticized for switching parties hoping to get elected to something, made appeals to underpaid women and the thousands of Omahans who signed a petition to raise the minimum wage which, as he well knows, Terry opposes.

Terry, an 8-term incumbent who barely survived the May primary and now needs those GOP voters who turned on him to come home on Election Day, accused Ashford of being soft on crime and voting for one tax hike after another—issues Republicans often respond to.

The fireworks started when, given his one chance to ask Ashford any question, Terry all but blamed Ashford for putting criminals back on the street early by refusing to put an end to Nebraska’s “good-time” law, a rule which basically cuts an inmate’s sentence in half if he doesn’t screw-up.

Terry: Why don’t you want reforms to good-time?

Ashford: The Department of Corrections did not follow the good time law that was in effect…We’re not coddling prisoners Lee when we increase penalties for sexual predators, we increased mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes.

Terry: The bill you passed cut every sentence in half without having to earn that.

Ashford: No.

Terry: Yes.

Ashford: No it didn’t.

And when Terry then accused Ashford of stonewalling Gov. Dave Heineman’s plan to end good-time, Ashford said Heineman wasn’t always a good-time opponent.

“The Governor actually asked for a more lenient good-time law a few years ago to alleviate prison overcrowding,” noted Ashford.

The two also sparred on pocket book issues, including taxes and paychecks—Ashford’s tax hikes and Terry’s now infamous statement during the government shutdown that with a “nice house” and a “kid in college” he needed his $174,000 a year salary to make ends meet.

Ashford: I will never ever vote to shut the government down, I will never ask to be paid if and when the government is shutdown.

Terry: My opponent has raised taxes and fees 12 times…in just the last four years.

And then there was the minimum wage:

Ashford: 70 percent of Americans on minimum wage today are women…we’re talking about low wage earners who are trying to get off of welfare.

Terry: I don’t want people to just go from $7 to $10. I’m trying to figure out a system that if you’re a single mother and you’re struggling at minimum wage we want to make sure you have the skills necessary to earn $20 an hour. And those jobs are open in Omaha, Nebraska right now.

But even Terry acknowledged fighting to keep the minimum wage as is, isn’t easy. Not even at home.

“My son, who’s a baker at Baker’s, as a 16-year-old, he’s kind of hoping it goes up,” said Terry.

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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