OVERTON, Neb. / WASHINGTON, D.C — Election night could see Nebraska's longest serving member of Congress move into a new leadership role. But against projections of a red wave a Democrat with an independent streak is hoping for a miracle.
The race for Nebraska’s third district is a study in contrasts – the 8-term Congressman versus the outsider.
Representative Adrian Smith says he wants to fight what he calls the damage done by President Biden.
“With inflation, cost of energy, inputs to agriculture and home building, so many things that need a lot of work that's why I'm running again,” Smith said.
A 62-year-old father of four, David Else says he's motivated by a lifetime of overcoming adversity.
“I’m a lifetime farmer, farmed since I was 14-years-old when my dad passed away,” he said.
Else is a believer in the Affordable Care Act, saying his family has encountered several medical setbacks including a daughter who needed a kidney after a lifetime of health problems and a serious accident for his ex-wife.
“No one can withstand that and we had to borrow money against the farm and that put us in bad shape,” Else said.
On the other hand, Smith has called the Affordable Care Act a broken law and says he's pushing for innovation in medicine.
“We want to empower telehealth. I've been working on this since before COVID for rural purposes and now there's greater appreciation for telehealth,” Smith said.
Smith is up for consideration to become chair of the influential Ways and Means Committee.
“Nebraska for any committee has not had a committee chairman so obviously I have ideas more than just becoming the first Nebraskan. trade is so important to Nebraska agriculture, taxes are important,” he said.
Smith says his seniority benefits Nebraska.
“When you look at our district, number one district for agriculture, we're a powerhouse. our population might be spread out but we are a powerhouse as it relates to agriculture, manufacturing,” he said.
“Time for someone Else” says the Overton farmer who was critical of the trade war
“I don't think Pres. Trump realizes how much it's hurting ag, corn was $3 for four years,” said Else, who is a regular caller to Gov. Pete Ricketts monthly radio show.
As a cattle producer, Else says he's concerned about consolidation.
“We need to get more packing plants like we used to have, smaller businesses in small town and bust up the big packing plants or at least get more competition here,” he said.
Adrian Smith is up for his ninth election but says fatherhood has changed him, with two kids under 6.
“We have a lot of challenges but I still think we live in the greatest country in the world,” Smith said.
Just as his family has overcome the odds David Else says he's a man of faith, telling voters he's in it to win.
“I'm not going to put my hat in any race unless I'm planning to win. I plan on winning it. I know it's going to be a miracle from God if I do and the voters,” Else said.
Else was a longtime Republican turned independent who says he was encouraged by leaders in the Nebraska Democratic Party to run.
Smith has been in public office most of his adult life including the Nebraska Legislature before he was elected to the House in 2006.