It’s still months before Election Day, but at least one critical piece appears to have fallen into place in Nebraska Democrat Brad Ashford’s bid to secure a second term: a reunion with seasoned campaign vet, Jeremy Nordquist.
Nordquist, a former state senator who resigned from office in 2015 to serve as Ashford’s chief of staff, has piqued the interest of political operatives. “Some Republicans admit [Ashford] has a good chief of staff and district director who keep the train on the tracks,” the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report noted earlier this week.
Since Nordquist joined the campaign team there’s been a significant uptick in fundraising as well as a positive shift (from Tossup to Tilts Democratic) in the overall election outlook. “We’ve worked on so many bills together. ... We cut through a lot of extra red tape and get right down to business,” Ashford said of their collaboration.
Per Nordquist, the two have known each other for at least a decade, more than half of which was spent hammering out compromises in the unicameral Nebraska legislature.
His prior Hill experience — Nordquist interned for former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and honed his skills as a communications director after that — made him a natural choice to follow Ashford to Washington in 2014. But his daughter had just been born, so Nordquist stayed put.
Last year, though, he cut short his second term to help out an old friend.
“He’s a legislator first and a politician second,” Nordquist said of his boss, citing Ashford’s commitment to pro-business policies, trade promotion authority, job training, skill training, gay rights, immigrant rights and veteran’s health care as shared priorities.
Though they remain collegial, Nordquist stressed that he knows his place in the congressional pecking order.
“I know and he knows that he’s the member of Congress. I will give him my frank opinion ... but at the end of the day he makes the decision,” Nordquist said.
But fund-raising is one job Ashford is happy to hand off.
“It was a little bit of a slow start preparing for this race,” Nordquist said of Ashford’s earlier efforts.
According to Federal Election Commission filings, Ashford’s campaign collected $200,000 in the first quarter of 2015, around $155,000 in the second quarter and jumped up to $271,000 after Nordquist joined the campaign in the third quarter of the year.
The candidate, who has traversed the political spectrum as a registered Republican, Democrat and independent, casts that movement as a positive: "You can get things done if you govern from the center.''
As for securing his own political future, Nordquist doesn’t anticipate pursuing a member pin just yet.
“I think I’m a little ways off from doing that,” he said, adding that that's particularly the case since he’s interested in having more children.
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