Omaha, NE—As he runs to get his old job back don’t tell former Omaha area Congressman Brad Ashford that he has flip-flopped on the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline.
“I never said I was so much for the pipeline,” Ashford tells News Channel Nebraska. That despite his 2015 vote in the House of Representatives for legislation that would have forced President Obama to approve the KXL.
And his lone rival in next May’s Democratic Primary is, at the very least, skeptical. “I can’t pretend to understand why he would change his mind about something like this,” says Kara Eastman.
So regardless of the outcome of this week’s Public Service Commission hearings on the future of the 36-inch oil pushing pipeline, the $8 billion project appears likely to be a defining issue between the two.
News Channel Nebraska spoke separately with both Ashford and Eastman:
Ashford: We don’t need to disrupt the state any longer with this pipeline.
Eastman: I’m glad that he’s now against it because I think that’s the right thing to do but it does make me concerned about his dedication to protecting our environment and doing what’s right for Nebraska.
Ashford: I don’t think about these kinds of things politically. I was always concerned about why were dong it but I was willing to accept the idea that Nebraska could protect its interests through the Public Service Commission and that’s why I voted the way I did in Congress.
Ashford: I worked on the pipeline issue for five years it was never a political decision.
NCN: But given the vote you cast in Congress you don’t think that left people thinking you were for the pipeline?
Ashford: I don’t know. I never said I was so much for the pipeline what I said over and over again was that I was defending the process that had been established by the Legislature. It was really a vote to allow Nebraska…to make its own decision.
NCN (to Eastman): Do you think he changed his mind on the pipeline because he is now running in a Democratic primary where arguably the majority of voters are anti-pipeline?
Eastman: I don’t pretend to be able to read Brad Ashford’s mind…I’m happy he’s now on the right side of this but I can’t pretend to understand why he would change his mind about something like this. That’s one of those issues where we would differ for sure. I have consistently been against the pipeline.
NCN: And you would want voters to know that?
Eastman: I would.