Nebraska Democrats take platform to the left on abortion, guns and health care

Nebraska Democrats take platform to the left on abortion, guns and health care
Nebraska Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kleeb speaks at a rally for then-Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello on April 20, 2017. (World-Herald News Service)

LINCOLN — The Nebraska Democratic Party pushed its platform to the left Saturday, adopting new sections supporting abortion rights, raising the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21 and a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care system.

The party held a statewide convention this weekend and re-elected Chairwoman Jane Kleeb and First Associate Chair Frank LaMere. Preston Love Jr. was elected to be the second associate chair.

The new platform language says Nebraska Democrats “continue to oppose any state and federal laws that would impede a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.”

Abortion has been a hot topic lately among Democrats in Nebraska and nationally.

It exploded when former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders came to Omaha to campaign for then-mayoral candidate Heath Mello. Sanders received intense criticism for supporting Mello, who describes himself as pro-life, particularly from abortion rights groups.

Kleeb and others defended Mello, saying the Democratic Party can support candidates with a diversity of viewpoints.

The national Democratic Party includes abortion rights in its platform. Previously, the Nebraska Democratic platform had been silent on the issue.

Nebraska Democrats have been focused on rebuilding their party as Republicans hold all statewide and federal offices. A state convention is a chance to rally the party faithful and develop party structure. A little less than 30 percent of Nebraska’s registered voters are Democrats.

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