The 1st district encompasses most of the eastern quarter of the state and almost completely envelops the 2nd district. It includes the state capital, Lincoln, as well as the cities of Fremont, Columbus, Norfolk, Beatrice and South Sioux City. The incumbent is Republican Jeff Fortenberry, who has represented the district since 2005. He was re-elected with 68% of the vote in 2012 and the district has a PVI of R+10.
Fortenberry considered running for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Republican Mike Johanns, but ultimately announced that he would not do so and would instead seek re-election.
He faced Dennis L. Parker and Jessica L. Turek in the Republican primary.
Dennis Crawford, a Lincoln attorney and 2nd Associate Chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
Terry faced a competitive primary challenge from businessman Dan Frei, who ran to the right of Terry. Despite outspending Frei by around 20-to-1, Terry only beat him by 2,686 votes, just under 6%. After his defeat, Frei refused to endorse Terry and he and his supporters openly floated the idea of running an Independent or write-in campaign against Terry in the general election. Frei himself is ineligible to do so, having lost the primary election, but former State Senator Chip Maxwell was mentioned as a possible candidate.
On May 21, 2014, Maxwell announced that he would run as an Independent. A former Republican State Senator, his party registration is presently nonpartisan. He has said that if he wins, he will rejoin the Republican Party and serve as a Republican in the House. He dismissed as "hysterical" the idea that his candidacy could be a "spoiler" that conservatives are using to defeat Terry by "any means necessary", whether by Maxwell winning or by him and Terry splitting the Republican vote, thus allowing Democratic nominee Brad Ashford to win, meaning that there would be an open Republican primary for the seat in 2016.
Despite collecting enough signatures to make the ballot, Maxwell withdrew from the race on July 24, saying that he had been "begged" by "high-profile" Republicans not to run and didn't want to create a "permanent rift" in the district's Republican Party. He did however say that he plans to run against Terry in the Republican primary in 2016 and noted that "I think this thing's a toss-up, even with me out of it."
After controversial comments made by Terry in October 2013, Omaha City Council President Pete Festersen, a Democrat, decided to run against Terry. However, Festersen announced on December 9, 2013 that he was ending his campaign because of the difficulty in balancing the campaign with his family and city council responsibilities. Democratic State Senator Brad Ashford announced his candidacy in February 2014.