The Nebraska 2020 Senate Election: Meet the Candidates


Jeff Turner

Meet Sen. Ben Sasse, Chris Janicek and Preston Love Jr. – all are candidates currently running for Senate. Illustration by Leta Lohrmeyer/the Gateway.

Campaign season is expected to wind down soon, with a race for the presidency remains competitive, as well as a congressional race in Nebraska’s 2nd district. Less talked about is the season’s race for U.S. Senate, which has been colorful, to say the least.

The reason no one talks about this Senate race is that the polls have had incumbent Senator Ben Sasse up by a wide margin for months, RealClearPolitics rates the Senate race as “Safe GOP.” However, an upset is always possible.

Sen. Sasse has been highlighting accomplishments from his first term such as cutting regulations, seeking retribution against the Chinese government for their failings on issues such as the Coronavirus pandemic and spearheading pro-life legislation.

“He’s a born leader,” said Taylor Sliva of the Sasse campaign. “Senator Sasse is a dad and fifth-generation Nebraskan and consistently has one of the most conservative voting records in the Senate.”

Chris Janicek, his challenger who won the Democratic nomination in May, challenged Sen. Sasse on his response to issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Janicek is a businessman and owner of “Cupcake Omaha,” working in the Dundee community for some time.

Sliva said that Sen. Sasse has been prioritizing common-sense legislation when responding to COVID.

“Let’s pass relief legislation that is actually about relief. We should prioritize: vaccine development, helping small businesses and making sure our schools and medical communities have the resources they need,” Sliva said.

Shortly after winning the nomination, texts were released that show Chris Janicek making lewd comments about one of his staffers, in response the Nebraska Democratic Party called for his resignation. While Janicek apologized for the text, he did not step down, which led to the Nebraska Democratic Party nominating Preston Love Jr. as a write-in candidate.

“I was one of the party officers that weighed in on the decision,” said Love on the choice to strip Janicek of the resources normally offered to Democratic nominees and call for his resignation. “I told him that he has a lot of friends in the party and that his stepping down is the best move for right now. He didn’t do that.”

Love has been a presence in the Omaha community for decades. He has always been involved in politics, advising and managing campaigns such as Jesse Jackson’s in the 1984 Democratic primaries. He was also the first Vice President of the Omaha NAACP. Love is also a professor at UNO, teaching in Black Studies.

COVID-19 is one of the biggest issues Love wants to tackle if elected.

“We in North Omaha have worked hard in containing the virus and addressing the various disparities [racial, socioeconomic, et. al], we worked hard on tracking the viruses impact in the community, and I think I can bring some of that community leadership to the Senate,” said Love.

Love does not have a substantial war chest, having only announcing his candidacy this past fall.

“I had fifty dollars to my name when I announced. The lack of visibility may have caused some issues, but I’m proud of how well my staff has done,” said Love.

Love hasn’t shot any attack ads against Sen. Sasse or Janicek and has avoided bringing in or spending outside money in excess.

“We’ve ran a true grassroots campaign,” Love said.

The polls will be open all day tomorrow, ballots will be accepted up until the polls close at 8 p.m. tonight.