Republican Dan Frei will take on Lee Terry in District 2 -
Published Sunday, November 3, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 12:45 am
US. House Race
Republican Dan Frei will take on Lee Terry in District 2

U.S. Rep. Lee Terry has picked up another challenger: a fellow Republican who says Terry is a “decent guy” but who has failed as a leader in Congress.

Omaha businessman Dan Frei, 50, described himself as a “constitutional conservative” who opposed the Bush administration's controversial bank-bailout bill known as TARP and who respects Republican congressional firebrand Steve King of Iowa.

Although he holds strong conservative beliefs, Frei said that if he's elected, he will not be beholden to any political party. He said he hopes to work with people on both sides of the aisle to find solutions.

“It's leadership. I want someone that will go and truly be the voice of Nebraskans rather than go to Washington, D.C., and line up with the party and then follow marching orders,” said Frei, whose campaign website was expected to go up Monday.

Frei is the second person this year — and the first Republican — to challenge Terry, who is considered one of the GOP's most vulnerable House incumbents.

Last month Democrat Pete Festersen said he planned to run, citing frustration with Terry over the partial federal shutdown. Also, Republican Chip Maxwell has said he is considering challenging the congressman.

Terry is one of several Republicans nationally who represent swing districts and who are feeling the heat over voter disapproval with Congress. Most notably, Terry came in for national criticism during the shutdown after he angered many by initially refusing to delay his paycheck, saying he couldn't afford it because he had a “nice house” and a child in college.

He later apologized.

This isn't the first time Terry has faced competition from the right wing of his own party, especially since the birth of the Tea Party movement.

In 2012, four Republicans sought to unseat Terry in the GOP primary. Terry won handily with 60 percent of the vote.

Two years earlier, a Tea Party-inspired candidate, Matt Sakalosky, also challenged Terry and garnered 37 percent of the primary vote.

Frei — whose name is pronounced like “fry” — said he supported Sakalosky in that election.

Frei is vice president of Kingston Training Group, an information technology company. He says the bulk of his adult career has been in sales, helping businesses organize and manage paper as well as computer data. He has worked in executive positions with Canon USA, Sharp Electronics and Kyocera Corp.

Frei hails from a suburb near Dayton, Ohio. He moved to Omaha with his family 19 years ago. At the time, his child was sick and needed treatment at Children's Hospital & Medical Center, and Frei had been offered a job in the city. His son recovered fully a year later, and, Frei said, by that time the family had “fallen in love” with Omaha.

Frei said he has had a lifelong interest in politics, but became much more active during the waning days of President George W. Bush's administration.

At the time, Frei said, he was frustrated with Bush's stimulus package for the economy and the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, calling it a “mass expansion” of government. Terry voted for that bill.

“I'm a constitutional conservative,” Frei said. “I'm a firm believer in a smaller government.”

Currently Frei serves on the Nebraska Republican Party's central committee.

Frei said he believes Terry and other Republicans did not show any real leadership during the partial federal government shutdown. He said he disagreed with the party's message during the shutdown, although he agreed with the ultimate goal of defunding President Barack Obama's health care law.

He said Republicans should have pushed for a “delay” of the 2010 law, with the goal of persuading a majority of lawmakers to scrap the law in the future.

“When you have Republicans line up and say, 'We're going to shut down the government if you don't defund it,' that was the wrong message. They should have said 'This isn't ready for prime time; we need to delay this,' ” Frei said.

When asked for a current congressmen he respects, Frei cited King, a staunch Republican who has been a prominent opponent of Obama and who is known for his fiery rhetoric.

“He's a good, principled conservative who believes in smaller government,” Frei said.

Contact the writer: Robynn Tysver    |   402-444-1309    |  

Robynn is's elections writer. She's covered presidential politics in Iowa's caucuses, and gubernatorial and Senate races in Nebraska.

Beau McCoy calls Pete Ricketts a 'convenient conservative' for immigration stance
Police ID body found near 36th, Seward Streets
Agreement reached to end dog racing at Bluffs Run at end of 2015
World champion Crawford's promoter working to have title defense at CenturyLink Center
Hail, strong winds, heavy rain hit south-central Nebraska
Video: Stothert says Crossroads project is 'full speed ahead,' but she won't support bond issue
'Fairly old' human skull found in Mills County
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
Omaha crash victim, 19, had touched many lives
Firefighters take on 'fully engulfed barn fire'
Council Bluffs school board approves new district headquarters
Officials announce effort to lure more veterans to Nebraska
SB 132nd Street lane closed
Shane Osborn grabs several endorsements
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Omaha area may get 1 inch of rain tonight
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
Owners of exotic dance bar deny prostitution allegations
More Nebraskans are electing to vote early
A day after Ricketts endorsement, Ted Cruz backs Sasse for Senate
Some city streets remain closed
Nebraska's U.S. Senate candidates stick to familiar topics at Omaha forum
< >
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
The idea that Paul Hogan had studied and then hatched at his mother's table was that older people, rather than moving in with relatives or to an assisted-living center, would much prefer to stay home instead.
Breaking Brad: Nebraska GOP candidates unified against naked squirrels
Some of these Nebraska campaigns are tilting pretty far right. At a recent forum, there was a consensus that we need to ban public dancing and clothe naked squirrels in public parks.
Breaking Brad: Inside the mind of a 99-year-old real estate agent
I saw an article about a 99-year-old real estate agent who's still working. “This house is extra special. It has indoor toilets!”
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
7M Grill
Half Off Delicious Comfort Fusion Food & Drinks!
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »