Lee Terry Picks Up Democratic Challenger After Shutdown Paycheck Remarks

A Republican congressman who caused a stir after refusing to give up his pay during the government shutdown has picked up a Democratic challenger.

Omaha city councilman Pete Festersen (D) will challenge Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) in his 2014 reelection bid, the Omaha World-Herald reported Saturday.

“Like most people, my frustration has grown by the day over the last month, with the government shutdown and the brinkmanship on the debt ceiling,” Festersen said of his decision to run. “Change is needed. And I felt it was my responsibility to be that change.”

Earlier this month, Terry brushed off some his colleagues' decisions to refuse or donate their paychecks for the duration of the shutdown, dismissing the gesture as a publicity stunt.

"Whatever gets them good press," Terry said. "That's all that it's going to be. God bless them. But you know what? I've got a nice house and a kid in college, and I'll tell you we cannot handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That's just not going to fly."

The congressman later apologized for his comments and said he would have his paycheck withheld until the shutdown ends.

Festeren said it was the shutdown itself and not Terry's remarks about his paycheck that prompted him to enter the race after previously saying he wasn't interested in running.