Nebraska Democrats renounce their Senate pick over comments

The Nebraska Democratic Party called on its U.S. Senate nominee to drop out of the race Tuesday after he was accused of making sexually inappropriate comments in a group text with campaign staffers.
Janicek

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Democratic Party called on its U.S. Senate nominee to drop out of the race Tuesday after he was accused of making sexually inappropriate comments in a group text with campaign staffers.

The party announced that its state executive committee voted unanimously on Monday evening to withdraw all of its resources from Chris Janicek’s campaign.

Janicek, the owner of an Omaha cupcake bakery, is challenging Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, who is seeking a second term. Janicek accepted the Democratic nomination a little more than a month ago after winning a seven-candidate primary race, but the odds of winning in November were against him in Republican-dominated Nebraska even before his party withdrew its support.

“Our Democratic Party has no tolerance for sexual harassment,” state Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kleeb said in a statement. “Our party will not extend resources or any type of support to any candidate that violates our code of conduct and doesn’t treat men and women with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Party officials declined to elaborate on Janicek’s exact comments, but in a news release, they said a campaign staff member showed them sexually inappropriate remarks that the candidate made in a group text. They said they demanded that Janicek withdraw as the party’s nominee, which he refused to do.

The campaign staffer, who has since quit, filed a formal complaint with the party alleging that Janicek violated its code of conduct that prohibits sexual harassment.

In a brief phone interview, Janicek said he doesn’t plan to drop out of the race. He alleged that the party was targeting him because he disagreed with its more liberal activists on issues such as abortion rights and gun control, while he has taken a more moderate stance.

“They’re using this as a crutch,” he said.

Janicek didn’t deny that he made an offensive comment, but he said he apologized for it and assumed the matter would be kept private.

Party officials can only replace Janicek on the November general election ballot if he files a request with the Nebraska secretary of state’s office to have his name removed.

If Janicek does withdraw, the party would have a few months to field a replacement. The last day for the secretary of state’s office to certify candidates this year is Sept. 11, 50 days before the general election.

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