The state of Nebraska isn’t really a Democrat stronghold. No one is deluding themselves into believing otherwise. However, state Democrats still field candidates because, well, stranger things have happened.
Chris Janicek, the party’s Senate candidate, wasn’t likely to unseat incumbent Ben Sasse, but he was a fairly moderate Democrat which gave him a better chance than, say, an Antifa sympathizer.
Now, though, the party has withdrawn all support from Janicek…and then some.
The Nebraska Democratic Party called on its U.S. Senate nominee to drop out of the race Tuesday after he made sexually repugnant comments about a campaign staffer in a group text with her and other staffers.
The party said its state executive committee voted unanimously on Monday evening to withdraw all of its resources from Chris Janicek’s campaign.
Janicek, the owner of an Omaha cupcake bakery, is challenging Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, who is seeking a second term. Janicek accepted the Democratic nomination a little more than a month ago after winning a seven-candidate primary race, but the odds of winning in November were against him in Republican-dominated Nebraska even before his party withdrew its support.
“Our Democratic Party has no tolerance for sexual harassment,” state Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kleeb said in a statement. “Our party will not extend resources or any type of support to any candidate that violates our code of conduct and doesn’t treat men and women with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
The text messages, which were obtained by The Associated Press, were from a group chat involving Janicek and five other people, including the female staffer. At one point, he wrote that he had argued with her and then asked whether the campaign should spend money on “getting her laid.”
State party officials have asked Janicek to step down as the party’s candidate, which he’s refused to do.
For his part, Janicek admits the incident took place, but says he apologized for it and thought it was over and done with. Instead, he thinks the party’s opposition to him comes from a different place entirely.
In a brief phone interview, Janicek said he doesn’t plan to drop out of the race. He alleged that the party was targeting him because he disagreed with its more liberal activists on issues such as abortion rights and gun control.
“They’re using this as a crutch,” he said.
Janicek didn’t deny that he made offensive comments, but he said he apologized for them and assumed the matter would be kept private.
As much as it pains me to say it, I’m pretty sure Janicek is wrong and that his position on gun rights had absolutely nothing to do with them asking him to step down.
Look, I get that he felt what he said was a joke and many of us may have made a similar joke about people who were pains in the posterior. However, when that person works for you, that’s a different situation entirely. That makes it sexual harassment and puts it way out of line. What he said was pretty damn terrible, especially since he figured the staffer would need more than one partner to take care of her.
Yes, it’s bad.
I’d love to argue that it’s about his position on gun rights. It would serve my purposes quite nicely, actually. But, I have to look at myself in the mirror and I just can’t lie like that. Not to you and not to myself.
Janicek’s gun stance was probably not the issue. After all, it’s Nebraska, for crying out loud. Anyone with half a brain knows that Nebraska isn’t likely to go for a hard-left Democrat anyway. You need someone who is more moderate. That means some conservative positions on a few issues. I doubt anyone was bothered all that much by his stances on these issues.
His comments, though? That’s a whole other ballgame.
The winner in all this? Sasse. Whether Janicek steps down as candidate or not, the trainwreck that is the Democratic campaign in Nebraska right now only makes his job just that much easier.