Ashford, Eastman neck and neck in Nebraska Dem primary

Ashford, Eastman neck and neck in Nebraska Dem primary
© Greg Nash
The Democratic primary in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District remained a tight race on Tuesday night, with former Rep. Brad AshfordJohn (Brad) Bradley AshfordWhite men now the minority in pool of House Democratic candidates: analysis Pelosi sees defections from an unusual quarter — the left Ex-Dem lawmaker: Russians hacked my email in 2016 MORE and nonprofit executive Kara Eastman separated by just a handful of votes.
 
Neither news outlets nor the state of Pennsylvania have yet called the race, which Eastman now leads by 0.6 percent just before midnight, according to The Associated Press. County election boards appear to be reporting final results late into the evening, and it's possible the race could go to a recount.  
 
Ashford struck an optimistic tone as he addressed his supporters Tuesday evening.
 
"I believe we’re going to win this race, I believe we're going to be successful. But whatever happens tonight and tomorrow is not important. What’s important is that we will elect a Congress that will be a check and balance to this president," he said, according to KMTV in Omaha
 
Ashford came in as the favorite thanks to his one term in Congress representing the district. He framed himself as an experienced consensus-builder and also distanced himself from House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada Lawmakers consider easing costs on drug companies as part of opioids deal New grounds for impeachment? House Dem says Trump deserves it for making society worse MORE (D-Calif.), announcing that he would not back her as the Democratic Party's leader if elected. 
 
His supporters are also hopeful that his more moderate profile — he served in the state legislature for decades as a Republican, an independent and a Democrat — will help the party contend to flip the seat. Ashford won the seat in 2014 by defeating Rep. Lee TerryLee Raymond TerryAshford, Eastman neck and neck in Nebraska Dem primary GOP rep.: 2014 a 'bad year' for car safety What a Republican Senate means for the environment MORE (R), but lost it two years later to Rep. Don Bacon (R). 
 
Eastman, a political newcomer, ran a strong race as the progressive alternative. She seized on the enthusiasm within the party stoked by opposition to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE and arguing that a true progressive candidate from outside politics can help carry the party’s flag forward.
 
Eastman argued for progressive policies like Medicare for all, called for the repeal of the recent GOP tax-cut bill and has a stance on abortion that’s to the left of Ashford’s.
 
But while a win for her would be a victory for progressives who have sought to boost more liberal candidates over moderates, its possible that Eastman's record could hurt the party's chances of defeating Bacon in a district that includes both the liberal college town of Omaha and the more conservative Sarpy County.