Republican Dan Frei announces primary challenge against Bacon

Former GOP congressional candidate Dan Frei is launching a primary bid against Rep. Don Bacon (R) in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, he announced Tuesday.

News of Frei’s bid, which was first shared with The Hill, came a day after Frei filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for Bacon’s seat. Frei last ran for Congress in 2014 when he lost to then-Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) by roughly 6 points. Later that year, Terry lost to Democrat Brad Ashford in the general election.

“The people of Nebraska’s Second Congressional District deserve a voice in Washington, DC that will speak for them. They need someone who reflects our conservative heartland values. Someone who will stand up to the out of touch elites and the DC Swamp,” Frei said in a statement upon announcing his bid.

“Never Trump, Don Bacon seems to have has lost his way. Instead of echoing our voice in the halls of Congress he embraces the marching orders of the Swamp, infecting Nebraska politics with the stench of DC,” he continued. “He has become a Washington insider with a Nebraska address, taking orders from Republican leadership while failing to represent the real concerns of those in his district.”

Frei vowed to cut spending and said he’d vote against a continuing resolution “that allows the House the ability to ignore their responsibility to have a timely budget that addresses the needs of the American people.” He also vowed to tackle border security and prioritize U.S. interests, and said he wouldn’t offer “a blank check for military spending on policies” that “neglect” soldiers “but fund racism, DEI and climate extremism in the ranks and endless wars abroad.”

“While DC Sellout Don Bacon runs to represent K Street, I’m running to represent Main Street. I will restore Nebraska’s conservative voice in Washington and drain Bacon’s swamp,” Frei said in a statement to The Hill.

Bacon, a moderate, represents a battleground district. President Biden won there in 2020 by just over 6 points. The nonpartisan election handicapper Cook Political Report rates his seat “lean Republican.”

Bacon said in a statement to The Hill that he “would like to welcome Mr. Frei” to the GOP primary.

“There are some divisions in our party, and healthy conversations serve our district and our country well. I am confident that I can prove that a common-sense conservative is what is needed to represent Nebraska’s 2nd District,” Bacon said.

He pointed to his record in Congress and his time serving in the military as a retired brigadier general as reason for why voters should reelect the Nebraska Republican.

“I was rated the most effective House Republican by the Center for Effective Lawmaking and ranked second for number of bills signed into law during the 117th Congress by Govtrack,” Bacon said. “In the 117th Congress, I helped restart and served as Chairman of the Republican Main Street Caucus to address pocketbook issues affecting every American.”

The four-term Nebraska Republican has previous drawn former President Trump’s ire for backing legislation such as a bipartisan infrastructure deal in 2021, prompting Trump to call for a primary challenge against him.

Bacon, meanwhile, has criticized Trump, at one time saying that “the emperor has no clothes, and we need to have Republicans stand up,” after the Justice Department’s indictment against Trump for his handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

He also criticized Trump for his actions during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

The Nebraska Examiner noted that Michael Connely has also filed paperwork in the Republican primary, though he lives in Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District. Whoever prevails in the GOP primary will take on state Sen. Tony Vargas (D) in November. Bacon narrowly defeated Vargas in 2022 by close to 3 points.

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