LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska state Sen. Annette Dubas launched her campaign for governor on Sunday, promising a common-ground focus on economic development, renewable energy and property taxes.
The Democratic lawmaker announced her bid at her family farm near Fullerton, in a rural district that she has represented for nearly seven years. Her decision to run gives Democrats a rare competitive primary, with the potential to energize the party after several lopsided defeats.
Dubas will begin a 12-city campaign kickoff tour Monday to introduce herself to voters. The 57-year-old grew up in Omaha but moved to her father's hometown of Fullerton when she was 16. She met and married her high school sweetheart, Ron, and had four children and 10 grandchildren.
Winning statewide office as a Democrat "might be perceived as a challenge, but I think I've already proven that I can overcome it," Dubas said in an interview. "I'm a Democrat who represents a very Republican district. I went out, I worked hard, and I gave the voters of that district an opportunity to get to know who I am as a person. The issues that are important to those voters are the same issues that are important to me."
She will face fellow Democrat Chuck Hassebrook, a former University of Nebraska regent who also led the Center for Rural Affairs, an advocacy group for small towns. Hassebrook announced his candidacy in June and has traveled the state with a promise to visit all 93 counties. The two are divided on abortion, with Dubas describing herself as "pro-life," and Hassebrook supporting abortion rights.
The Republican gubernatorial race has drawn five candidates: state Sens. Charlie Janssen, Beau McCoy and Tom Carlson, State Auditor Mike Foley, and Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts.
Democrats have struggled in recent years to win statewide office. Republican Gov. Dave Heineman, who is term-limited, carried his last two elections with more than 70 percent support. Last year, Republican state Sen. Deb Fischer cruised to a statewide victory over Democrat Bob Kerrey, who returned to Nebraska to campaign for his old U.S. Senate seat.
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