Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Don Bacon of Papillion announced Tuesday his candidacy for the 2nd District Republican congressional nomination, starting the clock on what will be the premier contest in Nebraska's 2016 elections.
Rep. Brad Ashford of Omaha, the sole Democrat in Nebraska's congressional delegation, will be seeking re-election to a second term after ousting eight-term Republican Rep. Lee Terry in 2014.
State Sen. John Murante of Gretna previously acknowledged he is actively considering the Republican primary race.
Others who are taking a look include former state Treasurer Shane Osborn and former state Sen. Chip Maxwell, and there may be more.
"I'm convinced that career politician Brad Ashford will not bring the conservative change we need to Washington," Bacon said.
Bacon said he has "the principles and the commitment to tackling the issues that are undermining our national and economic security."
"We need a conservative outsider to change Washington," he said.
Bacon's 29-year military career includes four deployments to the Middle East, including commanding an electronic warfare squadron during the invasion of Iraq and a yearlong tour of duty in Baghdad during the 2007-08 surge. He has held command positions at Offutt Air Force Base.
Bacon previously was a military adviser to Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, whose 1st District now includes Offutt, and is an assistant professor at Bellevue University.
Former Gov. Kay Orr joined Bacon at his announcement event in Omaha.
Ashford, a former state senator who previously has been registered as a Republican and an independent, is a priority target for national Republicans, presenting them with an opportunity to flip a House seat from Democratic to Republican.
In the early months of his congressional term, Ashford often has differed from the majority of Democratic members of the House.
The metropolitan Omaha 2nd District is composed of Douglas County and portions of Sarpy County.