It wasn't that long ago that State Sen. Mike McDonnell switched parties.

He was a Democrat, now he's a Republican.

A Republican likely to challenge fellow Republican Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert in next year's city election.

And although he isn't running yet, he's upping the stakes.

NCN's Joe Jordan and McDonnell's push for a vote of the people on one of the city's testiest issues.


Going into next year’s mayor’s race the controversial, and at least $300 million, downtown Omaha streetcar is going the extra mile, politically.

It’s managing to bring longtime Democrat Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing, who is running for mayor and newbie Republican State Sen. Mike McDonnell, who is likely to run, together.

Both insisting Omaha voters should be voting up or down on the streetcar.

As News Channel Nebraska first reported, in a letter to Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and the City Council, McDonnell Monday called for the city to put the issue on the upcoming November ballot.

While he doesn’t say if he’s for it or against it, McDonnell does say the streetcar is “either a tool for the future growth of the city as proponents suggest, or a financial boondoggle as opponents claim.”

As she runs for an unprecedented 4th term, that vote of the people is over-and-over again shot down by Republican Mayor Jean Stothert. This was Stothert just last month.

May 20/Mayor Jean Stothert, Omaha (R):  “A vote of the people is not necessary for something like the streetcar because the people, the taxpayers, are not paying for it.” 

Joe Jordan, NCN: “Even if it’s a high price tag?”

Stothert: “Even if it’s a high price tag.”

April 4/Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing, Candidate for Mayor (D): “It’s too expensive…”

Ewing calling the streetcar a “great opportunity for economic development” but says it will cost upwards of $400 million, not $300 million, and all without the taxpayers OK.

April 4, 2024/Ewing: “I just believe it's too expensive and we should not have done it without a vote of the people when it's that expensive.”

McDonnell agreeing noting, “The size and scope of the project.”

May 20/Mayor Stothert: “We don’t have to go to a vote of the people for everything. That’s why they elect us.”

One year ago, a poll said 68 percent of Omaha voters oppose the streetcar, with 19 percent for it and 13 percent unsure.

According to the Mayor, that poll is dead wrong.