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The Most Important Race in Nebraska

Public schools are often community centers for the rural counties that form the state of Nebraska. While public schools are awarded local control, a degree of power is kept in the hands of the state government. The state's power is vested in the legislature, the governor, and the State Board of Education which collectively oversee the state Department of Education.

This year, four of the eight State Board of Education members have decided to step aside and not run for re-election. These four members are personally affiliated with both parties and make up the current moderate majority. Why are these moderate and experienced elected officials stepping aside?

No one can answer for them, but it may have something to do with new attacks on public education that have turned both local school boards and the state board into a battlefield. A far-right agenda has formed that seeks to ban books, restrict the accurate teaching of history and science, discriminate on the basis of sex, and criminalize educators. For folks who care about teacher pay, educational outcomes, mental health resources, and childhood development, this new agenda is terrifying and slowly but surely pushing them out of education.

In this election, Nebraskans will make a choice: grant the far-right the majority to carry out their agenda or return moderate education professionals to state government. In the May primary, voters returned a mixed response.

In District 1, which encompasses the City of Lincoln, far-right candidate Liz Davids received a small 38.9% of the vote compared to teacher Kristin Christensen who received 61.1% of the vote.

In District 3, which includes western Douglas County and eight rural counties, voters favored the far-right candidate Lisa Schonhoff against former West Point Superintendent Bill McAllister: 59.9% to 40.1%. In District 4, the eastern side of Douglas County and the City of Omaha rejected far-right candidate Stacy Matula advancing Liz Renner and LeDonna White Griffin. Matula received 24.3% and White Griffin received 28.7% of the vote respectively. Liz Renner emerged ahead with 47% of the vote. Based on primary results and campaign trends, it appears if the election was held today the balance of power on the State Board of Education would come down to District 2. The race between far-right candidate Linda Vermooten and mental health practitioner Maggie Douglas will determine if the far-right can carry out their agenda in Nebraska.

District 2 encompasses all of Sarpy, Cass, Otoe, Johnson, and Nemaha counties. The district is diverse including the suburbs of Omaha, small towns, and rural communities. Cass County will be decisive in this election.

In the May primary, Maggie Douglas received 34.9% of the vote. Linda Vermooten pulled ahead with 45.1% and a third candidate, lesser-known Democrat Karen Morgan carried 20%.

This close election is a combination of purple suburban Sarpy County and rural communities split on which path to take. The combination of moderate and more liberal votes for Douglas and Morgan point to a District 2 unwilling to send a far-right candidate to the State Board of Education. Plattsmouth, famously rejected extremism in January, recalling book banner Terri Cunningham-Swanson with 62% of the vote. However, the close nature of this election and the resources behind Vermooten make this a continuing competitive race. To reiterate, if Vermooten were to win in November, the State Board of Education would have a new 5-3 far-right majority. If Douglas were to win, the State Board of Education would come out with a 4-4 split allowing moderate voices to prevail and preventing the most extreme elements of a political agenda. The future of education in Nebraska, rural and urban, will be decided right here in District 2 and primarily in Cass County. Organizers must have the resources needed to protect this seat and elect a strong proponent of public education. Maggie Douglas and Cass County Democrats need your support. You can help determine what happens this election by voting, donating, knocking on doors, phone banking, or showing up for community events. Protect our State Board of Education, protect public education, and protect our rural communities this November.



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