Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2004, 5th term.

Born: December 27, 1960, Baton Rouge, LA

Home: Lincoln, NE

Education: LA St. U., 1982, Franciscan U. of Steubenville, M.A. 1985, Georgetown U., M.P.P. 1986

Professional Career: Staffer, U.S. House Comm. on Ag., 1986; Research assoc., Gulf South Research Inst., 1987-89; Asst. dir., Baton Rouge Downtown Dev. District, 1989-92; Sales rep., Sandhills Publishing, 1995-2004.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Roman Catholic

Family: Married (Celeste Gregory) , 5 children

Republican Jeff Fortenberry, elected in 2004, has a reputation as a brainy policy expert who has evolved into a centrist. In the tradition of former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, Fortenberry also takes a strong interest in foreign policy issues.

Fortenberry grew up in Baton Rouge, La., where his father was a life insurance salesman and his mother worked as a 4-H Club extension agent. When Fortenberry was 12, his father was killed in a car accident. “It taught me a hard lesson that you wouldn’t want to wish on any other child—you have to figure out a lot of things on your own,” he told Esquire magazine. Fortenberry got the political bug early as a page to a Democratic state senator, but switched to the Republican Party after he graduated from Louisiana State University. He earned one master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, and then another one in public policy from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. (For a time, he studied for the priesthood but changed his mind.)

In 1995, Fortenberry moved to Nebraska to take a public relations position with Sandhills Publishing, a publisher of trade magazines for the trucking, aircraft, and computer industries. He later got into the sales end of the business. Fortenberry’s first foray into politics came in 1997, when he won a seat on the Lincoln City Council. He served for four years, focusing on neighborhood concerns and on increasing the police force.

When U.S. Rep. Doug Bereuter announced he would not run again in 2004, three candidates mounted competitive campaigns for the Republican nomination: Fortenberry; Curt Bromm, the speaker of the state’s unicameral legislature; and Greg Ruehle, a former executive vice president of the Nebraska Cattlemen Association. Bromm, a moderate who was endorsed by Bereuter, began as the front-runner. But he quickly lost momentum after a barrage of negative television ads financed by the Club for Growth, a national anti-tax group that supported Ruehle. Fortenberry, a social conservative, drew criticism from his opponents as a single-issue candidate, but his superior grassroots operation and fundraising carried him to victory. Fortenberry won with 39% of the vote, to 33% for Bromm and 21% for Ruehle. He won just seven of the 24 counties, but in Lincoln’s Lancaster County, which cast 43% of the votes, he got 52%.

In November, Fortenberry faced state Sen. Matt Connealy, a farmer from Decatur who sought to exploit Republican divisions—Bromm refused to endorse Fortenberry after the primary—and who characterized Fortenberry as a stranger to Nebraska farm issues, a potent charge in a state where 1 in 4 jobs is connected to agriculture. Fortenberry responded by promising to improve trade policies for farmers and to support ethanol development. His main message, however, focused on socially conservative themes: opposition to abortion rights, support of capital punishment, and a ban on same-sex marriage. Fortenberry won 54%-43%, losing only two American Indian reservation counties.

In the House, Fortenberry joined the Republican Study Committee, a group of the most ardent conservatives, but has moved over time to the chamber’s ideological center. He was one of just 37 House Republicans in 2011 to back a Democratic amendment allowing the Obama administration to list new species and habitats for protection under the Endangered Species Act, and he was one of 33 that year to support spending $10 million more for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. He also backed the 2011 compromise to raise the federal debt limit as well as the New Year’s Day 2013 budget deal aimed at averting the so-called “fiscal cliff.” And he was one of only a handful of Republicans who signed a Democratic “discharge petition” seeking to force a floor vote on the stalled farm bill.

In the 111th Congress (2009-10), Fortenberry joined a minority of Republicans who backed Democrats on such issues as compensating first responders for health problems from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a sweeping overhaul of food safety laws, and legislation to reduce lead levels in drinking water. He also praised President Barack Obama’s May 2011 speech outlining his approach in the Middle East and North Africa that conservatives panned. He notes that he and Obama both won Lincoln in 2008. “People here pride themselves on independence,” he told Esquire.

However, Fortenberry has remained a strong social conservative. He introduced a bill in 2011 to repeal the Obama administration’s contraception coverage requirements and allow religious institutions and small businesses to refuse to provide services that violate their beliefs. It drew more than 220 cosponsors, and his visibility on the issue in opposition to the president was enough to earn him a seat on the Appropriations Committee in the 113th Congress (2013-14).

Before joining Appropriations, Fortenberry was active on the International Relations Committee. He supported President George W. Bush on the war in Iraq, won House approval of an increase in visas for Iraqi translators, and got a bill into law barring U.S. assistance for governments using children as soldiers. In 2010, he got into law another bill to expedite permanent residency status for Haitian earthquake orphans adopted by Americans.

In 2006, Fortenberry’s first reelection campaign was against former Democratic Lt. Gov. Maxine Moul, who made the Iraq war an issue. Although her fundraising was competitive, Moul’s campaign did not catch fire in the district, which has not elected a Democrat since 1964. Fortenberry won 58%-42%.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4806

(202) 225-5686

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1514
Washington, DC 20515-2701

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4806

(202) 225-5686

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1514
Washington, DC 20515-2701

DISTRICT OFFICE

(402) 438-1598

(402) 438-1604

301 South 13th Street Suite 100
Lincoln, NE 68508-2532

DISTRICT OFFICE

(402) 438-1598

(402) 438-1604

301 South 13th Street Suite 100
Lincoln, NE 68508-2532

DISTRICT OFFICE

(402) 727-0888

(402) 727-9130

641 North Broad Street
Fremont, NE 68025-4932

DISTRICT OFFICE

(402) 727-0888

(402) 727-9130

641 North Broad Street
Fremont, NE 68025-4932

DISTRICT OFFICE

(402) 379-2064

(402) 379-2101

125 South Fourth Street Suite 101
Norfolk, NE 68701-5200

DISTRICT OFFICE

(402) 379-2064

(402) 379-2101

125 South Fourth Street Suite 101
Norfolk, NE 68701-5200

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(402) 488-3678

6415 Rainier Drive
Lincoln, NE 68510-4128

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

6415 Rainier Drive
Lincoln, NE 68510-4128

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Acquisitions

Alan Feyerherm
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Agriculture

Alan Feyerherm
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Appropriations

Alan Feyerherm
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Arts

Patty Sheetz
Senior Advisor

Budget

Alan Feyerherm
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Campaign

Alan Feyerherm
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Education

Jennifer Allen
Communications Director

Patty Sheetz
Senior Advisor

Energy

Alan Feyerherm
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Environment

Alan Feyerherm
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Family

Diana Cloutier
Senior Legislative Assistant

Finance

Alan Feyerherm
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Foreign

Diana Cloutier
Senior Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Alan Feyerherm
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Patty Sheetz
Senior Advisor

Health

Patty Sheetz
Senior Advisor

Homeland Security

Diana Cloutier
Senior Legislative Assistant

Housing

Alan Feyerherm
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Immigration

Diana Cloutier
Senior Legislative Assistant

Intelligence

Diana Cloutier
Senior Legislative Assistant

Internet

Diana Cloutier
Senior Legislative Assistant

Labor

Patty Sheetz
Senior Advisor

Medicare

Patty Sheetz
Senior Advisor

Military

Diana Cloutier
Senior Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Alan Feyerherm
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Tax

Alan Feyerherm
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Technology

Alan Feyerherm
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Diana Cloutier
Senior Legislative Assistant

Trade

Diana Cloutier
Senior Legislative Assistant

Transportation

Alan Feyerherm
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Women

Diana Cloutier
Senior Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Jeff Fortenberry
Votes: 174,889
Percent: 68.29%
Korey Reiman
Votes: 81,206
Percent: 31.71%
2012 PRIMARY
Jeff Fortenberry
Votes: 55,658
Percent: 86.39%
Jessica Turek
Votes: 5,255
Percent: 8.16%
Dennis Parker
Votes: 3,511
Percent: 5.45%
2010 GENERAL
Jeff Fortenberry
Votes: 116,871
Percent: 71.27%
Ivy Harper
Votes: 47,106
Percent: 28.73%
2010 PRIMARY
Jeff Fortenberry
Votes: 57,390
Percent: 83.85%
David Hunt
Votes: 7,000
Percent: 10.23%
Ralph Bodie
Votes: 4,053
Percent: 5.92%
2008 GENERAL
Jeff Fortenberry
Votes: 184,923
Percent: 70.36%
Max Yashirin
Votes: 77,897
Percent: 29.64%
2008 PRIMARY
Jeff Fortenberry
Votes: 46,620
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (71%), 2008 (70%), 2006 (58%), 2004 (54%)

* Export counts will reset after 30 days. Please contact your Dedicated Advisor if you have reached your limit.

To order a print copy of the 2016 edition of the Almanac of American Politics, click here. For questions about print orders, call Columbia Books at 1-888-265-0600 ext 0266 or email customer service.

For questions about the digital Almanac, please contact your Dedicated Advisor or Membership@NationalJournal.com.

×