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Former lawmakers get chance to compete for return to Nebraska Legislature

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LINCOLN — All incumbent state senators easily survived Tuesday's primary election, while two former lawmakers won the chance to reclaim their old seats in the Nebraska Legislature in November. 

Of the 24 seats up for election this year, only 11 are held by incumbents. Thirteen seats are open because the incumbent senators are term-limited out or, in two cases, opted not to run for reelection. The late April death of Sen. Rich Pahls of Omaha will add another open seat for the November election. It occurred too late for candidates to get on the primary ballot.

Both candidates will advance to the general election in nine races, while Sens. Myron Dorn of Adams and Tom Brandt of Plymouth were unopposed. Here are results of the contested primaries:

Metro-area districts

District 6. Incumbent Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha had no trouble claiming the lead in her bid for a second legislative term. The outspoken Democrat will face Christian Mirch, a former chairman of the Douglas County Republican Party, in November. 

District 8. Another outspoken Democrat, Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha, held a commanding lead over her two opponents. The second-place candidate was Marilyn Arant Asher, a Republican who stepped down as executive director of Nebraskans for Founders Values, a Christian activist group, to run. 

District 12. Former Sen. Merv Riepe of Ralston coasted to an easy victory in a four-way contest, with Ralston School Board member Robin Richards in second place. Riepe, a Republican, hopes to return to the Legislature after being ousted by Sen. Steve Lathrop in 2018. Riepe had been elected to the Legislature in 2014, when Lathrop was term-limited out. This time, Lathrop opted against seeking reelection. Lathrop and Richards are Democrats. 

District 18. Small-business owner Michael Young clung to a narrow lead over Christy Armendariz, who works in strategic sourcing, in this tight primary. At deadline, Clarice Jackson, the founder of a dyslexia screening, teaching and advocacy organization, was in third place. Young is a Democrat, the other two are Republicans.  

District 14. Incumbent Sen. John Arch of La Vista handily won his three-way primary. The Republican, who is seeking a second term, will compete against Cori Villegas of Papillion, a behavioral therapist and Democrat. 

District 20. Attorney Stu Dornan and mental health provider John Fredrickson, both of Omaha, will square off in November after coming in first and second in the primary. Dornan, a Republican, won the race, followed by Fredrickson, a Democrat. 

Lincoln-area districts

District 2. Incumbent Sen. Rob Clements of Elmwood, a Republican, held the lead in his bid for reelection from a reconfigured district. The district now includes parts of northeast Lincoln, along with the more rural Cass County. The second-place finisher was Janet Chung, a Democrat from Lincoln who has worked in marketing and management.

District 26. George Dungan III, a Lancaster County public defender, and Russ Barger, an attorney and entrepreneur, will meet again in November after taking the top two primary spots. Dungan is a Democrat, Barger a Republican.

District 46. Former Sen. Danielle Conrad held the lead in a three-way contest to return to the Legislature. Lincoln City Councilman James Michael Bowers took second place. Both are Democrats. Conrad was term-limited out of office in 2014.

Other areas

District 22. Incumbent Sen. Mike Moser of Columbus far out-distanced his opponents in his effort to win a second legislative term. Second place went to Roy Zach of Genoa, who is mounting his second bid for the Legislature. Moser is a Republican, Zach is an independent. 

District 40. Barry DeKay, a farmer and rancher from Niobrara, took the lead in a primary battle that pitted four Republicans against each other. At deadline, Mark Patefield, a pharmacist and former Laurel mayor, held the second-place spot by a only narrow margin over Keith Kube, a management consultant from Crofton. 

District 42. Sen. Mike Jacobson of North Platte claimed first place in a three-way race. His November opponent will be Chris Bruns, also of North Platte, who was endorsed by former Sen. Mike Groene. Groene resigned in February amid allegations that he had taken inappropriate photos of a female staff member. Jacobson was appointed to replace Groene. Both Jacobson and Bruns are Republicans. 

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