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Election Results and Expanded Gambling in Nebraska

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President Donald Trump and Sen. Joni Ernst have held off challenges in Iowa, which had been considered a swing state after voters chose Democrat Barack Obama twice but swung to favor Trump four years ago. The Republican president and Democrat Joe Biden held events in Iowa in the days leading up to Tuesday’s election indicating what had appeared to be a tight race. Ernst had breezed to an easy win in 2014. She won again but by a narrower margin against Democrat Theresa Greenfield, who heads a Des Moines property development company.

Democrat Joe Biden has won in the Omaha-based congressional district, a victory that allows him to peel off one of conservative Nebraska’s five Electoral College votes. Nebraska is one of two states that permits its electoral votes to be split. The statewide winner earns two votes, but the other three votes are decided by the winner of the congressional districts. Because President Donald Trump won the statewide vote and in Nebraska’s two other districts, he will receive four Electoral College votes. By beating Trump in the Omaha district, Biden will earn one vote. To win the presidency, one candidate must win at least 270 of the nation’s 538 Electoral College votes.

Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse has coasted to a second term, easily defeating two Democratic challengers in the GOP-dominated state. Sasse beat scandal-plagued Democratic nominee Chris Janicek, who refused to leave the race even after his party disavowed him for sending sexually explicit texts about a campaign staffer. Nebraska Democratic Party officials spent months trying to force Janicek out of the race, but state law does not allow them to remove his name from the ballot without his permission. Sasse also bested the Nebraska Democratic Party’s preferred candidate, Preston Love Jr., who ran as a write-in candidate.

President Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds and U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson won their South Dakota races. But with Republicans long dominating the state’s elections, the most interesting questions to be resolved may be separate proposals to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana. The medical marijuana initiative passed, and voters being asked about legalizing recreational marijuana were leaning in favor of the measure in early returns. Election officials received a historical number of absentee ballots, raising the possibility that tallying the results could take longer than usual.

Nebraska voters overwhelmingly approved measures to allow casino gambling at state-licensed horse racing tracks in Sioux City City, Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island and Columbus.

Supporters, including Lance Morgan of Ho-Chunk, Inc. say legalizing casinos in Nebraska will create jobs and a new source of state tax revenue.

“I’m absolutely thrilled, and we failed before and had to get through a lot of hurdles.  To sit there and have to wait for the election results to through, I never faced that level of stress before on election night.”

Ho-Chunk, Inc. owns Atokad in South Sioux City and Morgan says the company has development deals for the facilities in Omaha and Lincoln.

“I think it will be a great addition to the community and will be competitive with the Hard Rock or it won’t be viable.”

Opponents fought hard to keep the issue off the ballot, including filing a lawsuit in September that was rejected by the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Voters approved a change to the state constitution to allow slot machines and table gambling, as well as two laws that will regulate and tax casino gambling.

Opponents had argued the change would lead to increases in crime and bankruptcy.

A clean sweep for the Republicans running for the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors.

Incumbent Keith Radig received 1,000 more votes than challenger Kevin McCormick.  The spread was 51-to-48%

Former board member Jeremy Taylor came out 5-points ahead of incumbent Marty Pottebaum in District 3; 52 to 47%.

And, in District 5, Incumbent Rocky De Witt easily beat Patty Erickson-Puttmann with 60 to almost 40% support.

Radig, Taylor and De Witt will serve on the board with Matthew Ung and Justin Wright which means all of the Woodbury County Supervisors will be Republicans.

Two Democrats won local races for the Iowa Statehouse. 

Current State Representative Chris Hall easily held off a challenge by Ernie Gigaroa 58-to-41 percent in District 13. 

And in District 14, Steve Hansen will return to Des Moines after a 20-year hiatus from politics.  He beat Bob Henderson 57 to 42 percent.  Current state representative Tim Kacena decided not to run for re-election.

In more statehouse elections; Republican Jacob Bossman in District 6 ran unopposed as well as Tom Jeneary of Le Mars in District 5.

Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill won a 7th term in office with 52% of votes.  His Republican challenger, Barbara Parker received 47%.

This election received more attention, after a judge ruled against Gill sending pre-populated ballot request forms to voters in the county.

Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.