It is astonishing that the entire state is not talking about the events surrounding the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

On Sunday, July 19, the Nebraska Democratic Party (NDP) voted for Alisha Shelton to appear on the ballot as the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate if Chris Janicek, the current nominee, steps down by September 1st. This is the first time in history that the NDP has had to do this.

Janicek sexually harassed a staff member by sending explicit text messages to a group chat that she was included in. This text discussed using campaign funds for “getting her laid” and referenced a group sex scenerio.

This is a blatant abuse of his power and dangerous behavior for a leader. This was a violation of the NDP’s Code of Conduct, and therefore they promptly withdrew all party support and resources from him. This makes it nearly impossible for him to win in November. Since then, there have been other stories of racism and inappropriate behavior, which he has not apologized for. The people of Nebraska have demanded that he step down by protesting and starting petitions. Even the Nebraska State Education Association and the AFL-CIO withdrew their endorsement of him.

Despite all of this, there is little coverage of these events outside of the Omaha area.

Alisha Shelton finished third in the primary and has the support of second place finisher Angie Phillips, as well as the Nebraska Democratic Party. Shelton is a mental health practitioner and longtime community advocate. If elected she would expand access to healthcare and mental health services, expand broadband access across Nebraska, bring more jobs to the state, and provide unemployment benefits to workers furloughed due to COVID. She would be the first African American woman to be nominated to the U.S. Senate in Nebraska history.

Alisha Shelton cannot run a write-in campaign due to a Nebraska law that prohibits candidates who ran in the primary from running as a write-in. This is called a “sore-loser law” and prevents those who lost a primary race from leveraging any unequal power dynamic and running again.

However, this situation is different. Janicek actually violated the NDP’s Code of Conduct. It should be impossible to violate the state party’s Code of Conduct and still remain on the ballot.

The longer Janicek refuses to step down, the more he destroys his own party and shows he is unapologetic for his abuse of power. He clearly does not care about running a viable campaign against Senator Ben Sasse, but rather, cares more about his personal image. Janicek has been silent for weeks on the issues that matter most to Nebraskans. He is simply hiding until this all goes away and he can “move on”, as he likes to say. We deserve better than that. We deserve a nominee on the ballot that is ready to take on Sasse and stand up for Nebraskans!

 

Carolyn Jacobs, Omaha

 

(In a letter shared with the public on July 22, Janicek said he would not drop out of the race. He blamed state party chairwoman Jane Kleeb for a decline in Democratic voter registrations and said the state party has provided no support to his campaign. – Editor)