Omaha City Councilman Pete Festersen is giving a second look at Congress in the wake of Republican U.S. Lee Terry's controversial comments over his paycheck and the federal shutdown.
Festersen opened the door Monday to reconsidering his earlier decision not to run against Terry next year.
Festersen, a Democrat, said he is being urged by many to jump into the race in the wake of Terry's verbal misstep. Last week, Terry angered many when he said he could not “handle” going without his paycheck during the federal government shutdown, despite the fact thousands of other federal workers were not being paid.
Terry apologized Sunday in one of the most unequivocal political apologies issued in a long time, saying he was “ashamed” of his comments. He said he now would not accept pay during the federal shutdown.
Festersen said if he gets into the race, it would be because of his growing frustration with gridlock in Washington, D.C., and the fact many people are urging him to run for Congress.
“I'm very frustrated with America's state of affairs, which has gotten worse the last month. My phone is ringing off the hook, but I haven't made any new determinations,” Festersen said.
In August, Festersen disappointed Democrats when he announced he would not run, after flirting with a potential bid for weeks.
At the time, Festersen cited family concerns. A father of two young girls, Festersen said he preferred to stay in Omaha rather than go to Washington.
Festersen had been considered one of the Democrats' hottest prospects to tackle Terry, an eight-term congressman.
Festersen had been heavily recruited by national Democrats, who believed that the moderate, pro-business councilman had the credentials to win in the state's only swing district.
Terry has faced tough competitors in the past several election cycles, with his most recent challenger coming within 2 percentage points of unseating Terry.
He is seen by many as being one of the most vulnerable Republicans in this election cycle. It is worth noting, however, that Terry has been seen as vulnerable for at least the past three election cycles and still has won.