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Jessica McClure

Shown with her supporters at her Election Night party at Turbine Flats, Jessica McClure (right) was declared the winner of the Democratic nomination for 1st District House of Representatives on Tuesday.

FRANCIS GARDLER, Journal Star

Nebraska's Democratic primary election voters Tuesday appeared ready to turn to a new face in eastern Nebraska's 1st Congressional District.

Jessica McClure, 36, who was a regulatory compliance specialist before she jumped full-time into her campaign, defeated 2014 Democratic nominee Dennis Crawford in her bid to challenge Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry in November.

McClure's strong showing came on a night when women played a dominant role in Nebraska's Senate and House elections. Both Senate nominees are women. And in Omaha, social worker Kara Eastman declared victory over former Rep. Brad Ashford for the 2nd District Democratic congressional nomination.

Bacon unseated Ashford in 2016, dislodging him after a single term with the help of overwhelming voter support from Sarpy County. Ashford won Douglas County, but could not overcome the Sarpy County Republican wave.  

Fortenberry will be seeking re-election to his eighth term in the reconfigured 1st District, which includes Lincoln, Bellevue, Norfolk, Fremont and Columbus.

McClure, like Crawford, has focused on universal health care coverage and identifies herself as a strong supporter of public schools. 

Fortenberry, a former Lincoln city councilman, points to his conservative voting record.  

The congressman, whose district was reconfigured in 2011 to include Bellevue and Offutt Air Force Base, holds a coveted seat on the House Appropriations Committee.

Meanwhile, out west in the 3rd District, which spreads across all of western and central Nebraska, along with the northeastern and southeastern corners of the state, Republican Rep. Adrian Smith won nomination to his seventh term.

Smith will be opposed by Democratic nominee Paul Theobald of Osmond, a hog farmer in Pierce County and rural historian. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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