Race Profile: Vargas vs. Shelton

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — For two election cycles, Nebraska and National Democrats have sought the congressional seat of Rep. Don Bacon.

Now two Omaha Democrats, Tony Vargas and Alisha Shelton, are looking to defeat him in the fall.

The two candidates vying for the Omaha-area House seat say they grew up working class and their life experiences, especially their current jobs, prepare them to enter a polarized Congress and to make things progress.

Tony Vargas is used to navigating politics. He served six years in the Legislative Assembly and four years previously on the Omaha Public Schools Board of Education. He says the experience and growing up as the son of immigrants will make him an effective member of Congress.

“I think we need more fighters and workers in Congress who come from a working-class background, who also have the experience to get things done right away because we can’t wait,” Vargas said. .

But the Southern Omaha state senator has a challenger in Alisha Shelton: a mental health therapist who once ran for the US Senate in 2020 and failed the primary, but says she learned from valuable lessons on how to run a campaign.

“I think I’m someone, as a trained problem solver, who is always going to get to the heart of the issues. I will answer questions directly,” Shelton said.

After news of a likely overthrow of Roe v. Wade, the two Democrats have both said they will work to legalize abortion nationwide.

Shelton talks about her personal experience of needing a medical abortion to save her life.

“When you’re in such a critical state of mind and you just got bad news, you don’t want to think about the government, you want to know what you need to live,” Shelton said.

Vargas voted against a statewide abortion ban in the last legislative session and says his young daughter is a reason he will oppose it in the future.

“She has every right to choose what she can and cannot do with her body. I don’t think politicians should have a say in what a woman does with her reproductive health decisions. “said Vargas.

Shelton says she would work with a $15 minimum wage, provide strong voter services and expand labor protections.

She also thinks current Rep. Don Bacon — one of the few vulnerable Republicans to survive the 2018 midterm elections and surpass President Trump in 2020 — is beatable.

“So what I want is someone who is going to be consistent and, I think when voters start looking at his patterns of inconsistency, I think we have an opportunity to say enough is enough. Let’s put someone in here who will actually be there for us,” Shelton said.

Vargas says he has worked to improve public health programs, such as Medicaid, as well as to protect voting rights and bring back the child tax credit.

He also highlighted his work in the legislature, fighting to make South Omaha part of a broad economic stimulus package, and said he would bring it to Washington.

“In DC, I want to take the same approach; it’s about solving problems and figuring out where we can drive economic development and reinvest in people,” Vargas said.

Both candidates also said they would work to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. They also both support a public option for health care, which would allow Americans to purchase insurance from the government. Shelton said she would work on Medicare for all health care or single-payer.

Bacon is running against a relatively unknown candidate, Steve Kuehl, in the primary election.

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