Sarah Slattery waited and waited and waited as the results of the legislative District 2 primary election trickled in Tuesday night.
For much of the evening, Slattery trailed incumbent Sen. Rob Clements of Elmwood and fellow challenger Janet Chung of Lincoln.
But, well after midnight when the final Cass County votes were tallied, Slattery catapulted into second place, garnering 23.1% of the vote to advance to November’s general election.
“At first, it was just the Lancaster County votes that had come through, so it seemed like I was pretty far behind,” Slattery said Wednesday morning.
“Once the Cass County precincts came in, I saw a large gap and had a pretty good feeling about where I was going to end up,” she added.
When two-thirds of the 9,340 total votes had come in — roughly 70% of the District 2 voters reside in Cass County — Slattery passed Chung, who finished with 17% of the vote.
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Schuyler Windham, also of Lincoln, finished with 5.8%.
Slattery said as a lifelong resident of Cass County, she felt comfortable she could ride the support of friends and family to advance to the general election.
That doesn’t mean the professional chef and school nutrition director didn’t have a sleepless night, however.
“I still haven’t rested,” said Slattery, a registered Democrat. “I’m up this morning cooking hot lunch for the kids. Maybe this afternoon I’ll get a nap in.”
Attention now turns to November, where Slattery will face Clements, the incumbent Republican, who collected 54% of Tuesday’s primary vote.
Clements, a banker, insurance agent and tax preparer from Elmwood who has the backing of Gov. Pete Ricketts, carried both Lancaster and Cass counties.
“It’s a long way to the general election and there will be a larger group of voters to reach out to,” Clements said. “I plan to work hard to continue to get support ahead of the general election.”
Slattery said she hopes her showing in the primary will help draw more volunteers to her campaign and help her make inroads with voters across the district, including in the areas of Lancaster County added after last year’s redistricting process.
She also thanked Chung and Windham for stepping up to run for District 2.
“I appreciate that it was a good, challenging, clean race,” she said. “I’m really honored and humbled that I was chosen to move forward.”