Former U-S Senator and Omaha Civic leader David Karnes has died of cancer at age 71.
Then-Gov. Kay Orr shocked state Republicans when she appointed Karnes in 1987 to fill the unexpired term of Democrat U.S. Sen. Ed Zorinsky, who had died of a heart attack.
The youngest senator at age 38, Karnes lost his bid for a full 6-year term the following year, losing to former Gov Bob Kerrey.
An attorney who practiced in both Nebraska and Washington, DC, Karnes spent the last 3 decades with numerous civic organizations and lobbying for Nebraska in Washington including getting Omaha part of Nebraska’s federal coronavirus funding.
Current Nebraska GOP leaders issued statements of sympathy to the Karnes family. Gov Pete Ricketts called Karnes “a great Nebraskan, a public servant, and a devoted father and husband.”
Karnes was Sen Deb Fischer’s choice to escort her onto the floor of the Senate when she was sworn in for her first term. She called him “her good friend” and will miss their conversations and his support.
Fischer also said “Nebraskans admired Senator Karnes’ dedicated service and his commitment to our state and his community.
Senator Ben Sasse described Karnes “a great man who tirelessly served Nebraskans. His work in Washington and here at home helped so many folks across our state. His selflessness and hard work made Nebraska proud.”