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Republican

Rep. Lee Terry (R)

Lee Terry Contact
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Email: n/a
DC Contact Information

Phone: 202-225-4155

Address: 2266 RHOB, DC 20515

Lee Terry Committees
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Lee Terry Biography
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  • Elected: 1998, 8th term.
  • District: Nebraska 2
  • Born: Jan. 29, 1962, Omaha
  • Home: Omaha
  • Education:

    U. of NE at Lincoln, B.A. 1984; Creighton U., J.D. 1987

  • Professional Career:

    Practicing atty., 1988-98.

  • Political Career:

    Omaha City Cncl., 1991-98, Pres., 1995-96.

  • Religion:

    Protestant

  • Family: Married (Robyn); 3 children

Republican Lee Terry, first elected in 1998, concentrates on energy and technology issues that can help his district’s rural residents. But he has sweated through a greater number of tough reelection fights than other lawmakers with as much seniority. Read More

Republican Lee Terry, first elected in 1998, concentrates on energy and technology issues that can help his district’s rural residents. But he has sweated through a greater number of tough reelection fights than other lawmakers with as much seniority.

Terry grew up in Omaha and became interested in politics at age 14 when his father, television anchor Lee Terry Sr., a conservative Republican, ran and lost a race for the House in 1976 against Democrat John Cavanaugh. Terry Sr. remained a prominent local commentator on politics, and his son went off to college and law school, practiced law, and at 29, was elected to the Omaha City Council from an affluent west-side district.

When Republican U.S. Rep. Jon Christensen ran for governor, Terry announced his bid for the House seat. His chief opponents were Brad Kuiper, owner of a pest control business, and Steve Kupka, former chief of staff to Omaha Mayor Hal Daub and an official in President Ronald Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget. The contrast among the three was less on issues—all were for lower taxes and against abortion rights—than on style and approach. Kuiper targeted religious conservatives and emphasized cultural issues. Kupka assembled Washington endorsements and, spending the most money, went on the attack, accusing Terry of increasing the city’s budget.

Terry won 40% to 30% for Kupka and 26% for Kuiper. The general election was anticlimactic. Despite the fact that Democrats had won open seats in the district in 1976 and 1988, Terry won 66%-34% against Democrat Michael Scott. In April 1999, shortly after taking office, he reneged on his pledge to serve only three terms.

In Washington, Terry has a moderate-to-conservative voting record and occasionally is a consensus-seeker. “I am a policy guy,” he said in 2009. “I like to work with Democrats.” On the Energy and Commerce Committee, he worked with Democrat Rick Boucher of Virginiato provide federal funds for high-speed Internet service to low-income and rural areas. In 2007, he successfully joined Democrat Baron Hill of Indiana on a bill to increase average fuel efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon for cars, although he opposed raising the standard to that level for light trucks, widely used by Nebraska farmers. When Democrats controlled the House, he joined a small group of Republicans in supporting a food safety overhaul and a substantial spending boost in federal research agencies in 2010.

When Republicans reclaimed control of the House in 2011, Terry was a major booster of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and joined in GOP efforts to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority. He also caused a furor that year when he introduced a bill that would have made it easier for people to receive prerecorded cell phone “robocalls.” Terry said the bill was intended to make it easier to receive notifications of important information such as flight delays and school closings while barring telemarketers. But consumer groups and 48 of the 50 state attorneys general called it overly intrusive, leading Terry to abandon it. Earlier, Terry stuck with his party on the two major bills to come before Energy and Commerce—the health care overhaul, which he dubbed a “trillion-dollar tragedy,” and the cap-and-trade bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He had hoped to chair Energy and Commerce’s telecommunications subcommittee in the 113th Congress (2013-14), but the gavel went to Oregon’s Greg Walden, a behind-the-scenes political strategist in the House. Terry settled for chairing the panel’s Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee, which deals with consumer privacy issues.

Terry has survived some well-funded reelection opponents. State Sen. Nancy Thompson ran an aggressive campaign against him in 2004, and despite polls indicating a tight contest, Terry won 61%-36%. Two years later, political newcomer Jim Esch, who worked for the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, held him to a 55%-45% win. Terry got only 53% in Douglas County, which cast 82% of the vote.

Esch ran again in 2008, encouraged by presidential candidate Barack Obama’s organizational efforts in the 2nd District. Esch questioned why Terry had not been elected to a leadership position during a decade in Washington, and Terry hit back by criticizing Esch for accepting $100,000 in agriculture subsidies. Aware of Obama’s appeal in urban areas, Terry’s campaign mailed postcards to independent women urging them to split their ballot by voting Obama-Terry. Two weeks before the election, both national party committees poured money into the state. Terry won with 52% of the vote. He narrowly prevailed in Douglas County, which Obama carried by 51%, but he won by big margins in Republican-leaning Sarpy County.

Two years later, Democrats put up someone they regarded as a strong candidate—Democratic state Sen. Tom White, an anti-abortion rights Catholic. White criticized Terry for not supporting parts of the Obama administration’s economic agenda that helped middle-class Nebraskans, such as the economic stimulus bill. Late in the campaign, he also aired an attack ad highlighting a New York Post article that claimed Terry flirtatiously asked a female lobbyist, “Why did you get me so drunk?” at a Capitol Hill club. Terry denounced the charge and worked harder at raising money, eventually pulling in $1.9 million to White’s $1 million. He won the Omaha World-Herald’s endorsement and prevailed easily, 61%-39%.

In 2012, Terry beat four GOP challengers in the primary and then faced a well-regarded Democrat in the fall—Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing, a retired Omaha police officer who was the first African-American elected to countywide office in the state. This time, the World-Herald endorsed Terry’s opponent, complaining that the incumbent “has demonstrated relatively little legislative leadership during his time in the House.” Even though Terry raised more than $2 million to Ewing’s $618,000, he prevailed by only 51%-49%.

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Lee Terry Election Results
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2012 General
Lee Terry (R)
Votes: 133,964
Percent: 50.8%
John Ewing (D)
Votes: 129,767
Percent: 49.2%
2012 Primary
Lee Terry (R)
Votes: 27,998
Percent: 59.45%
Brett Lindstrom (R)
Votes: 10,753
Percent: 22.83%
Jack Heidel (R)
Votes: 5,406
Percent: 11.48%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (61%), 2008 (52%), 2006 (55%), 2004 (61%), 2002 (63%), 2000 (66%), 1998 (66%)
Lee Terry Votes and Bills
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National Journal’s rating system is an objective method of analyzing voting. The liberal score means that the lawmaker’s votes were more liberal than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The conservative score means his votes were more conservative than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The composite score is an average of a lawmaker’s six issue-based scores. See all NJ Voting

More Liberal
More Conservative
2013 2012 2011
Economic 39 (L) : 61 (C) 40 (L) : 58 (C) 10 (L) : 83 (C)
Social 48 (L) : 50 (C) 48 (L) : 52 (C) 44 (L) : 55 (C)
Foreign 34 (L) : 60 (C) 35 (L) : 59 (C) 9 (L) : 86 (C)
Composite 41.7 (L) : 58.3 (C) 42.3 (L) : 57.7 (C) 23.2 (L) : 76.8 (C)
Interest Group Ratings

The vote ratings by 10 special interest groups provide insight into a lawmaker’s general ideology and the degree to which he or she agrees with the group’s point of view. Two organizations provide just one combined rating for 2011 and 2012, the two sessions of the 112th Congress. They are the ACLU and the ITIC. About the interest groups.

20112012
FRC9083
LCV119
CFG7364
ITIC-75
NTU7570
20112012
COC94-
ACLU-0
ACU8872
ADA55
AFSCME0-
Key House Votes

The key votes show how a member of Congress voted on the major bills of the year. N indicates a "no" vote; Y a "yes" vote. If a member voted "present" or was absent, the bill caption is not shown. For a complete description of the bills included in key votes, see the Almanac's Guide to Usage.

    • Pass GOP budget
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • End fiscal cliff
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Extend payroll tax cut
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Find AG in contempt
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Stop student loan hike
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Repeal health care
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Raise debt limit
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Pass cut, cap, balance
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Defund Planned Parenthood
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Repeal lightbulb ban
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Add endangered listings
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Speed troop withdrawal
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Regulate financial firms
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Pass tax cuts for some
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Stop detainee transfers
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Legalize immigrants' kids
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Repeal don't ask, tell
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Limit campaign funds
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Overturn Ledbetter
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass $820 billion stimulus
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Let guns in national parks
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass cap-and-trade
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Bar federal abortion funds
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass health care bill
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Bail out financial markets
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Repeal D.C. gun law
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Overhaul FISA
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Increase minimum wage
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Expand SCHIP
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Raise CAFE standards
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Share immigration data
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Foreign aid abortion ban
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Ban gay bias in workplace
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Withdraw troops 8/08
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • No operations in Iran
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Free trade with Peru
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
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The Almanac is a members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics. Comprehensive online profiles include biographical and political summaries of elected officials, campaign expenditures, voting records, interest-group ratings, and congressional staff look-ups. In-depth overviews of each state and house district are included as well, along with demographic data, analysis of voting trends, and political histories.
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