Killing the Radio Star

Today is Omaha Gives! day.

And Leavenworth St. asks that you consider giving to our favorite charity, the Kamie K. Preston Hereditary Cancer Foundation. To help you learn a little about it, here is a video that tells Angie’s story…

To give directly, click here, which will take you to the Omaha Gives! page for the Hereditary Cancer Foundation.

You’ve been getting Leavenworth St. free for all these years, how about you kick in a few shekels for a good cause, eh?


Eastman running

Next, here’s the Facebook LIVE version of Kara Eastman’s Congressional candidacy announcement in the Old Market:

And no, she does not have a specific plan on how to fix the AHCA or bring jobs to low-income Omahans.


Bacon takes the floor

Here is Don Bacon on the floor of the House of Representatives, talking about National Foster Care Month:

He notes:

Today, I have the honor of being shadowed for the day by Kimberly Grosse of Omaha, NE. Kimberly was in foster care for 8 years. Starting off in a group home, she was later placed at Boys Town where she graduated high school. Kimberly currently works as a Communications Specialist dispatching Medical EMS helicopters. She also volunteers her time as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for kids currently in the foster care system. Kimberly, like so many other alumni of the system, pay it forward with their dedicated support. She is a shining example of determination and perseverance in all aspects of her life. I know that this young lady has an extremely bright future ahead.


Fischer keeping it local

And finally U.S. Senator Deb Fischer on the floor of the Senate, speaking about transportation and infrastructure:

Of note, she says,

“Furthermore, (U.S. Transportation) Secretary Elaine Chao explained that the administration ‘will not specify any list of projects’ in an infrastructure plan.

“States know their transportation needs best, not the federal government.

“The larger the role states have from start to finish in developing their own infrastructure, the more they can direct funding to the projects that truly affect their citizens.”

Local control.

And on that note…

“Greater flexibility, improved collaboration, and more autonomy can help states begin and complete their vital infrastructure projects in less time with lower costs.

“The Build USA Infrastructure Act would let them do that through state remittance agreements.

“This legislation would offer states more flexibility and control of infrastructure funding by establishing a new partnership between them and the U.S. Federal Highway Administration.

“Under this arrangement, states are permitted to enter into voluntary “remittance agreements,” whereby they can remit 10 percent of their federal-aid highway dollars in exchange for state purview over the design, permitting, and construction aspects of federal-aid highway projects.

“The state-remitted money to the Federal Highway Administration would be deposited into the HTF to help further address its growing deficit.

“It would give states breathing room as they work to bring in projects on-time and on-budget.”


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Bow shot

In case you don’t read the Lincoln Journal-Star (“the what?”), Don Walton wrote an article today about how Omaha State Senator John McCollister’s district is now getting robo-called regarding votes McCollister has made that counter the positions of Governor Pete Ricketts.

The robocalls ask:

Would you be more or less likely to vote for Senator McCollister if you knew he voted to give taxpayer benefits to illegal immigrants in the Nebraska Legislature?

Would you be more or less likely to vote for Senator McCollister if you knew that he voted to get rid of the death penalty in the Nebraska Legislature?

Would you be more or less likely to vote for Senator McCollister if you knew that he voted for tax increases in the Nebraska Legislature?

In thinking about the race for Nebraska State Legislature in 2018, will you
vote for Senator John McCollister or do you prefer to give someone else a chance.

McCollister calls this a “shot across the bow,” from Ricketts.

Walton notes that McCollister has been, “exercising his own independent judgment on hot-button issues as a member of the nonpartisan Legislature for four years.”

That’s one way to put it.
Another way would be that McCollister has been voting against Republicans, and these are the breaks.

Feel free to “exercise your independent judgment” as a legislator, but don’t be surprised when you then incur the wrath of voters — or those whom you oppose.


Just hang on a minute…

You saw here last week that word was certainly down that Taylor Royal intends to run for Nebraska State Treasurer.

The OWH got wind of it — as well as his new campaign website:

Well, maybe he wasn’t ready to unveil what’s under the hood, at least not to the OWH.

Then again, they didn’t exactly compliment him on his mayoral run, so whadda you expect…



Hey and there’s Brad Ashford, recently with Mrs. Ashford (Ann Ferlic Ashford, to YOU) in DC recently.

And Brad seems to be getting feisty on the Twitter lately as well:

Sure kinda seems like the Tweet of candidate.

Then again, that Twitter handle doesn’t quite work, now does it?


Hey! You! Time to GIVE!

Omaha Gives! starts tonight at midnight (the Tuesday/Wednesday midnight) and then runs for the next 24 hours.

It is a day set aside to give to your favorite local charities, and then Omaha Gives! supports them with prizes, etc. etc. Very, very good cause.

So lots of folks have their favorite charities, and we have ours:

The Kamie K. Preston Hereditary Cancer Foundation.

To get an idea what the Hereditary Cancer Foundation does, take a watch of “Angie’s Story”, and hear her thoughts on what the Hereditary Cancer Foundation does.

Through genetic testing, the gene that causes breast cancer can be identified and the patient can be treated before all the other problems arise.

As Angie says towards the end, had she known about it,

“…I definitely would have had genetic testing…and I would not have had to go through chemotherapy, I wouldn’t have had to go through all the other surgeries. Had I known about genetic testing, I’d be healthy right now.”

Please watch “Angie’s Story”, and then please click this link to go to the Hereditary Cancer Foundation’s Omaha Gives! page and give $10 or $20.

(Heck, you never clicked my links for Gaia’s sake, hows about you give to this good cause, and we’ll call it even?)

Then give yourself an attaboy in the comments.

Thanks and thanks for being involved in Omaha Gives!


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Bacon gets an opponent

Congressman Don Bacon officially has an opponent for the 2018 election.

Well, semi-officially anyway.

Democrat Kara Eastman has her campaign website up now — and probably more importantly, her campaign Facebook page. (And, fwiw, a yet-to-be activated campaign Twitter account.)

Now astute observers recognized instantly what is behind Eastman’s campaign logo:

It’s the Keystone XL Pipeline route!

Or maybe her alternative route? (Sigh. RIGHT OVER the Ogallala Aquifer…)

There’s a little bit of irony in that:

The story going around is that when Eastman, an elected member of the Metropolitan Community College Board of Governors, ran for that office…it wasn’t supposed to be her. The powers that be in the Democrat party saw that gig as easy pickin’s, and had someone else in mind. Eastman bucked them, ran, and won.

So, while seemingly on the same issue page as Jane Kleeb and Bernie Sanders, apparently she has not knelt before them, and has not been considered a “team player.” We will probably have to wait to see how all that works out.

But Eastman’s ever changing web site notes all the left leaning requisites: $15 minimum wage, “standing against Citizens United” (whatever that means), and no tax breaks for “wealthy corporations” (btw guys, that’s in there 2x in the same paragraph).

Which will make it interesting to watch when the other shoes drop.

The Ashfords have guaranteed that either Brad or Ann runs for Congress. “One of us is running. And that you can take to the bank,” Brad told The Hill.

So you’ve got Kara on the left and Brad, or his former Republican wife Ann, on the right. (You’ll remember that Ashford had a relatively conservative voting record during his two years in Congress, hoping to appease his very mixed district. Didn’t work out for him.)

One’s a lefty, but hasn’t bowed to the Elders. One’s a righty, but has never been considered a “true believer”.

Does that leave space for someone else to shoot the gap, as it were?
Someone who uses an inordinate amount of hair gel, spent the past 6 months talking about Congressional issues and is currently looking for a job?

Wouldn’t that be a fun primary to watch?

(Is it likely that Ashford and Mello would rip each other apart for the middle/right of center side of the local party? We will have to see how bad each wants it.)


Apology accepted

All the while, we have Rep. Don Bacon working on the floor of the House (recently for the Kerrie Orozco Bill), talking to constituents and holding Town Hall Meetings.

Oh, remember those? Bacon was hounded in the press for not wanting to hold meetings that were taken over by the masked rabble-rousers whose specific intent was to disrupt Town Halls.

Well, things cooled off — protest march burnout set in — and Bacon has been holding Town Halls left and right across Nebraska’s 2nd District.

(Don’t worry Congressman, the OWH’s columnists will be up with that congratulatory piece in no time!)

Now just five months into his first term, some have noted that Don Bacon has held more Town Halls than Brad Ashford held in his entire 2 year term.

As a matter of fact, according to this story it actually looks like the number of public events that Ashford held was zero. Funny that Ashford never received a public tongue-lashing like Bacon did.

Ha ha.


Fisching for an opponent?

All the while, Nebraska’s senior U.S. Senator, Deb Fischer, has held her usual Town Halls — 8 last August.

Fischer doesn’t get the press that some do, mainly because she is just doing her work in the Senate like most expect her to.

Though you would sort of expect a little coverage when, say, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture visits the state, and actually stays at her ranch near Valentine:

That’s Fischer with Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue holding a roundtable in the Sand Hills (well, not the hills themselves, mind you).

It is curious that this type of stuff doesn’t get more play on the eastern side of the state. You might note that agriculture commodity prices are the #1 issue that is pointed to for why the Nebraska Legislature’s current budget was so out of whack. As Fischer notes, “A great year for the rancher near Ogallala encourages the success of a business in Omaha’s Old Market.

All the while Fischer is addressing issues like NAFTA, ethanol, net neutrality and health care, among all the others that she hits on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

To put it another way, she is quietly kicking ass and taking names.

And she is up for re-election in 2018.

Any taker among the Dems for this office?
Someone that can really contend?
Heck St. Bob Kerrey of the Bridge could only muster 42% against the relatively unknown Fischer back in 2012.

If Cosmic Bob couldn’t do it, who can?

(But it would be quite the failure, if the current Dem Chair couldn’t come up with a serious candidate for that statewide office.)

Kara Eastman for U.S. Senate?


Challenging Fort

Oh, and apparently Jeff Fortenberry also has an opponent:

Jessica McClure.

No not THAT Jessica McClure who was saved from the well back in 1987. (Well, we’re pretty sure it’s not Baby Jessica…)

You can see her website, etc. here.

Let’s just say that if Fort looks to be in jeopardy, we will letcha know.

**UPDATE at 10am**

Well THAT was quick.

Missed the LJS story that says Democrat Bill Hoppner is considering getting into the #NE01 race against Fortenberry. Hoppner, kiddies, lost to eventual Governor, then Senator Ben Nelson in the 1990 Democrat primary by 41 votes. FORTY-ONE VOTES, STATEWIDE!

Not saying Hoppner still has the juice he had 27 years ago, but probably has a little more than the above-referenced McClure.

(Oh, and apparently Dennis Crawford, who lost 2 years ago, is in the race as well.)


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Friday’s child

Busy day, so as you end your work day by just staring at your computer, consider this a Senator Carl Curtis open comment Friday!

Keep it clean. Keep it civil. And see if you can throw in a non-Trump comment here and there.


Red Precinct-BluePrecinct

And for one last (probably) view of the Omaha Mayor’s race, Matt Hoover, Director of Data Visualization at, put together these views of vote totals per precinct that you may not have seen.

Interesting, but vote totals combined with who voted from what party will be an even more interesting analysis…


Someone has to water the plants

…and you can bet that those involved in the 2nd Dist Congressional race will enjoy.

Oh, and by the by, we hear Brad Ashford is in Washington, D.C. chatting with the Powers That Be.

Does that mean he left Mrs. Ashford at home?


Dave’s not here

Not clear if this was some sort of follow-up on yesterday’s Tweet from Nebraska’s junior U.S. Senator:

“And quote Cheech & Chong. And…”

Did someone make a request for more weed-based humor from our elected representatives that I missed?


…but he DOES know how to make a Presidential announcement

And then I asked myself, “I wonder what Chuck Hagel thinks about President Trump! I bet it’s something deep!

“This is a man who needs to listen and learn!”



Have a great weekend!

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The Nebraska Unicameral showed that politicking during the campaigns can likely make a difference come governing time. All of the attempts to override the Governor’s vetoes failed.

State Sen. John McCollister complained of “political hardball”.
No one said it was going to be beanbag.

And Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus was quoted by the Associated Press that he was going to support the Governor’s vetoes…and then went the other way on every vote. (You’d think those stories would be updated online…)

(Some wondered if that was Schumacher’s plan all along…)



But one thing on the veto override votes that all disciples of George Norris must decry was the hyper-partisanship of the Legislature.

One party choosing to vote the same way, over and over again.

Yes, those partisan Democrats.

Wait, what?

But Democrats hate partisanship, we thought!
Well, every Democrat in the Legislature voted the same way on every override vote.

Republicans, on the other hand, broke ranks left and right, voting to sustain and override the Governor. Those venerators of the non-partisan Unicameral (Don Walton, we’re looking your way) must be down at the NEGOP’s HQ at the Johanns Center handing out attaboys for the GOP’s dedication to non-block voting.

But those loathsome Democrats refuse to get on board with non-partisanship. They vote the same way again and again, clearly however the party tells them to.

It’s sad, really.

Well, there will probably be a whole bunch written on this topic soon.


Dude maintain

A somewhat bizarre commentary from Senator Sasse on some Twitter pics.

But a funny response from whomever runs Chuck Schumer’s account:


Requiescat in pace

Chris Cornell…Roger Ailes…
These things tend to come in threes…


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Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before

At a Farm Bureau meeting in Hastings on Tuesday, Commissioner Stew Bra….





And as it turns out, the internet can get broken…

Once again, for those of you NOT on Twitter, this is what it’s for. Breaking news that may or may not be true, but you should be 100% sure that it IS true, unless in another 15 minutes, it’s not.

People rushing to the latest “news” like it’s a freshly opened register at Hy-Vee at 1pm on a Saturday — only to find it was just the manager cutting through to go clean up broken bottle in aisle four.

It’s OK. Just be skeptical.
And keep in mind who is running the big league news.
Because you remember all of those super-conservatives in high-school and college who couldn’t wait to go to journalism school, right?

Which isn’t to say that they’re bad or even wrong.
Just that there will often-times be a certain…slant.

Which also isn’t to say that the Commander in Chief is doing himself any favors.
President Trump is…Donald Trump. The one we have known for a long time.
We figured we knew him before he was President, and it turns out he’s the same guy now.

Now go put some duct tape on that internet!


News you can use!

Ah, back to the political rumor mill.
Hey listen, you can nag all you want, but the name of the game in political circles is, “Who’s running for what?”

So what is being dropped around Leavenworth St?

Well, the word is that former Omaha Mayoral candidate Taylor Royal is…running for State Treasurer!

Don Stenberg is hitting the bricks, so that statewide office is available. Easy coasting for big-money Taylor, yeah? Not so fast.

Apparently his father, who bankrolled his campaign over the last few months to the tune of $200K or so, is NOT going to fund this one — where he could actually win.

That means Royal will be out there raising cash for the seat. That’s no easy task, especially when peeps just figure you’ve got the cash lying around.

Who else is interested in that spot?

The other name we hear is…
Senator John Murante of Big Fred’s Gretna.

Murante’s name had been floated about lately for Secretary of State. But with Bob Evnen’s recent announcement, accompanied by heavy endorsements, Murante looks to have dropped that plan, and is looking to Treasurer instead.

Probably add in a few 3rd districters eventually.
Could make for a sort of fun primary, right?
Well, for those interested in that kind of stuff…


To the left side of Bacon

And then for the 2nd District Congressional seat, we are still waiting for the gray or white smoke out of the Ashford fireplace. Local Democrats must be on the edge of their hammocks to see whether former Republican Brad Ashford or former Republican Anne Ferlic Ashford will run!

In the mean time, longer-time Democrat Kara Eastman is almost certainly in — though not, we hear, with a clear nod from the Powers That Be in the state Democrat hierarchy.

And then there’s recently pruned Heath Mello. He told KETV that he’d run for another office, “if it presented itself,” whatever that means. (Likely it means that he wouldn’t have to really fight for the nom.)

But with 2 other questionable Democrats already in, would Jane Kleeb anoint Mello after he A) reportedly didn’t want to go through with the Bernie Sanders rally, B) was outted by the national party as a Pro-Lifer who wants to repeal Roe vs Wade and C) is PRO Keystone XL Pipeline — the issue that is the most near and dear to Jane’s pocketbook…er…heart?

But Mello is good enough on most of the other Dem issues, so maybe locals wouldn’t care. Heck, Mello already spent the entire Mayoral campaign talking about climate change, health care and immigration. He could really just Sharpie out the office he’s running for and use the same door-hangers in a run for Congress.

Any other true-believers out there want to run against Bacon?

Please hold up either a red or green card.


Quixote is a contributing writer on Leavenworth St.

In the recent Omaha Mayor’s race Steve LeClair, head of the Firefighters Local allocated over $200, 000 in Firefighter’s Union funds to unseat Mayor Stothert and put in their had picked boy-toy, #MelloLies.

I so look forward to the 2018 contract negotiations…I expect they will go something like this…

“Thank you Mayor. May I have another?”

So, LeClair was that really a good investment of those hard-earned union dues?

For that same money, they could have:

• purchased a new ambulance (maybe even two) for the city,
• purchased season passes to Worlds of Fun for all members and their families
• purchased the land for the new Omaha Police Precinct
• purchased 4 new Omaha cops (since they are oh so worried about response times)
• purchased 5 new cruisers for OPD (see above)
• donated the money to the Muscular Dystropy Foundation (since they can’t raise money on the clock for that anymore).
• purchased a host of big screens and LazyBoy recliners for their union hall
• purchased multiple school buses and kegs of beer for future protest
• or even padded some pensions by investing it in their fund
• taken the entire department to Vegas via charter plane for a wild weekend
Just sayin’…



Did you catch Mello’s concession speech? Hardly a word about local issues. Jane Kleeb’s new toy has got his eyes on a more national race. Bacon & Fischer take note.

Don’t worry too much though. As long as he hitches his wagon to Kleeb and Crazy Uncle Bernie, he won’t get far in Nebraska.

Maybe he should move into a more liberal district like he did last time (Gretna to S. Omaha). Somewhere where flip-flops are popular, perhaps.


North O / South O:

“Leaders” in North and South Omaha had vastly different viewpoints over the past 6 months.

North Omaha leaders were all about how much money the city would invest in projects in their area of town.

South Omaha leaders were all about increasing business opportunities in their part of town. They weren’t after the all-mighty dollar from the city coffers, just the opportunity to increase small business success.

Somebody gets it. Somebody doesn’t.

Running to and from

For those keeping score, today the LJS’s Don Walton quotes a TIME Magazine story (remember when TIME was the source for in-depth news?) which essentially says Nebraska U.S. Senator Ben Sasse is running for President in 2020.

Well, maybe 2020. Maybe 2024.

Sasse gives a long-winded non-denial denial about whether or not his plans for becoming President are still “on track”.

The author then concludes:

That sounds like a yes to me.


Wrong party

State Senator Bob Krist said recently that he’s thinking about challenging Governor Pete Ricketts in the 2018 Republican Primary.

When most astute observers saw this, their first reaction was, “Republican primary? Why would Krist run as a Republican?”

Krist’s voting record, and general relationships in Lincoln tilt toward the Democrats these days.

And politics?

Well, Krist was NOT at Jean Stothert’s Mayoral Election Night party last Tuesday (like Dave Heineman, Pete Ricketts, Hal Daub, and you-name-it other Republicans were).

Krist WAS at Heath Mello’s party.

(See what I did there?)


Putting out fire with gasoline

A couple items I forgot to mention in Friday’s wrap column on the Omaha Mayor’s race:

As anyone who watched knows, the Fire Fighter’s Union was heavily involved in the race. They cut ads, took part in protests, knocked doors, made phone calls…

About those phone calls. The union was calling Republicans with a pro-Heath Mello message on Election Eve and Election Day. We heard from GOP households, with both spouses solid Republican voters, getting pro-Heath Mello calls.

Interesting, and a very dangerous, strategy. They chose to call people, who may not have otherwise gotten out to vote, to get up and vote…for Mayor Stothert. This is the, “boy, the opposition really is making an effort against her. I better go vote for her!

Of course the other interesting strategy by the FF Union was running some of their ads until midnight on Election Night. (Psst! Polls closed at 8pm!)



Erin Grace wrote a column in the OWH, essentially bemoaning the 35% voter turnout in Tuesday’s Omaha election.

She pointed to the 75% turnout that France got in their Presidential election. Then again 68% turned out in Omaha for the Presidential race.

But the gist that she got from her very small sample size was, “I don’t know enough about the candidates to vote for either, so I didn’t.

From a lofty standpoint, one can say, “Educate yourself, and do your sacred duty!”

Then again, it isn’t the worst way to go about things.

You DO sort of wonder how someone couldn’t have a strong feeling about how the city is run. Or how they missed at least the advertising, etc.

But if someone is truly not educated on the issues and candidates, isn’t it OK that they let those who are educated do the voting?

I’ve been known to skip the Weed Commissioner race, particularly where it is non-partisan, and let the weedies fight it amongst themselves on who would be better at the gig.

I’m sort of comfortable with that.

For those who “couldn’t find time”? Kind of a lame excuse these days. You can vote absentee. You can vote early. Maybe an expansion of the Vote Early locations wouldn’t be a bad thing. But that costs money, don’t forget.

The concept of a weekend vote is an interesting one, that maybe could/should be tried someplace for a study. I’m willing to bet people would find the same, if not more excuses.


Jane says

I loved the OWH’s story with Democrat Party Chair Jane Kleeb’s, “Pay no attention to that Mayor’s race where we got clobbered, and where there was a major question of why we would want to keep promoting the far-left wing of the party! Forward! Forward!

You bet she doesn’t want you to look at that. Because it was 100% HERS.

She is a Bernie-Bro through and through. And she was also one of the losing followers of anti-Semitic Congressman Keith Ellison for DNC Chair.

But it is EXACTLY the time where local Democrats should be reconsidering their strategies going forward. That’s what you do at this time. You see what went right and what went wrong.

The rally? Great optics. Awesome crowd. Good location. Good TV. Questionable length of the entertainment portion…

But the message? The thing you actually want to project to voters?

The far-left is controlling the party.
Free everything.
Lots and lots and lots of platitudes.
No coherent message from the actual, you know, CANDIDATE.

But enough assisting the local Democrats…
Carry on.


Face of the Party

Speaking of the face of the local Democrats, here is what you have right now:

Betsy Riot and the screamers at the Town Halls.

When you turn on the news, those are who you see representing the Democrats.

And if Betsy Riot isn’t showing up at a function wearing freaky masks with signs that say “F**K” over and over, they’re threatening a Congressman’s family at his home.

ICYMI, here’s what “Betsy Riot” put in the lawn at Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s house:

Which is awesome, Democrats.

And then after Fortenberry very politely asked that protesters stay away from his family, the Betsy Rioters responded

You cowardly fuckfaces.

(Scanning Nebraska Democrat Party Chair Jane Kleeb’s Twitter and Facebook pages, and NOPE, nothing disavowing this sign, or anything else about this group coming out of her party.)

Then there was the mob at Congressman Don Bacon’s town hall in Bennington. It’s good that people are going to them. And good that they’re asking him tough questions. They shouldn’t all be softballs, and Bacon doesn’t expect that.

But then the nut-jobs…er…concerned constituents…think that the BEST way to show that they’re really angry is to start chanting and yelling and disrupt the entire meeting.

Clearly they have no interest in hearing what the Congressman has to say. They are there to shout him down, and turn it into a campaign event. Because again, they are convinced that if enough people see and hear them yelling, voters will think, “Hey, those yelling people are awesome!

You know, like the ones at the Bernie rally.
And the masked Betsy Rioters
The ruder the better.

This is who is running the show for the Democrats.



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Omaha Mayoral Campaign Wrap

(sound of me stretching after 6 months of confinement)

Helllllllllo Leavenworth St. readers!

It’s good to be BACK!

Where was I?
Well, as many of you know, I was a staffer on Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert’s campaign for the last 6 months. As part of the deal, I did not have a byline on Leavenworth St. — though I did use the Twitter and Facebook accounts in my normal course.

The successful campaign ended Tuesday night, some decompression and cleanup on Wednesday, a very sad funeral on Thursday, and now I’m back to the keyboard.

So, what did we learn?


Jean Stothert won because of Jean Stothert

There has been a strange wrap-up by the national media looking at this race and determining that Heath Mello’s F-up regarding abortion and the Bernie Sanders rally was the deciding factor in Heath Mello losing.

Dear National Media: Wrong.

I get it. They want to be able to point at the Omaha race, and place it among the national political concepts that they understand.

They figure, “the Sanders rally, and the ensuing controversy, got the national attention, so that MUST have been the deciding factor, right?


Sure there were elements that contributed to issues in the race. But the implication that Heath Mello wasn’t progressive enough, and thus local Democrats abandoned him, is simply a convenient narrative for the national press. It doesn’t look at ANY of the actual implications on this VERY local race.

For instance…


Donald Trump was a non-factor

Much to the chagrin of the local, state and national Democrats, Donald Trump was not a factor in this race. The majority of voters did not look at Mayor Jean Stothert and say, “Trump supporter! I will/won’t vote for her because Donald Trump!

Sure there were likely a handful of hard-core Dem voters who wanted to somehow send a message that electing Democrat Heath Mello meant that they didn’t want Donald Trump. But as a whole, THAT didn’t happen.


The Sanders Rally

Before we jump into the actual reasons for Stothert’s victory, let’s review that rally. Democrat politico Paul Landow called it a “colossal mistake”. (At least we know now who Jim Rose and/or Joe Jordan had been talking to.)

There had been others who said that Heath Mello did NOT want Sanders to come in. Then he didn’t want to appear at the rally. But THEN (we hear) Mello was told that if he DIDN’T join in, his future in Democrat politics was finished.

Well then.

While it’s unlikely the controversy hurt Mello’s “progressive Omaha” base,  it certainly didn’t help Mello with conservative Dems who were hoping that he wasn’t a Coastal Liberal.

Here’s the deal, Jane Kleeb. (A little free advice.)

You know who Nebraskans like? Conservatives.
Jim Exon was a conservative.
Ben Nelson was a conservative.
Mike Fahey was a conservative.

Now each of them had their Dem variations, to be sure. But that wasn’t what they were known for. Nelson was known for being more conservative than a Massachusetts Republican — well, until the ObamaCare vote anyway.

And Mike Fahey was more seen as…well…not-Hal Daub to many people. But he was simply seen as “practical” to most.

The Sanders rally instead made a hard, vocal declaration: “I Heath Mello am Democrat! See me with Democrat leaders! And see me with Socialist leader!…

(Sound of record scratching.)

Yeah, that last part didn’t help.
Maybe people didn’t think Mello was a honeymooning in the Soviet Union with Bernie Sanders. But he was making a local race suddenly about…climate change? ObamaCare? Breaking up big banks?

These simply weren’t campaign issues in the local race.

And then there was the abortion imbroglio at the national level. The strange thing was that the national Dems were searching Heath Mello’s record for whether or not he voted for some ultrasound issue, etc. etc.

All they needed to see was his Nebraska Right to Life questionnaire response that, Yes, he was in favor of repealing Roe vs. Wade.

That should do the trick on Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice.

But what does lifetime Pro-Life Heath Mello do?
He flips! On being Pro-Life!
In a day!
Right as Bernie Sanders is showing up!
He takes his long-held beliefs and shoves them down the sewer drain for Party.

Did that make a difference to Pro-Life Democrats?
But Heath Mello DID lose his home precinct.

One could imagine that it didn’t help.
But that’s a different narrative than, “he wasn’t Pro-Choice enough” — and it’s arguably independent from the Sanders visit itself.

Jane Kleeb’s argument to the OWH about it being hard to beat an incumbent is true.
She caveats that with “…who doesn’t have a scandal”, sort of misses the point about an incumbent who is doing well.

She goes on to complain that Mello was out-fundraised. But come on, does anyone think he was’t competitive because of cash?

And then she says “it’s difficult when your base doesn’t feel motivated.

Jeezy Pete, did Jane miss her own rally? That was as progressive base as the progressive base gets. But the fact is that the Democrat base in Omaha is NOT the “progressive base” that lives in New York and L.A. and Chicago. (And I apologize to Republicans for passing that little nugget on to her.)

She’s right that anti-Trump sentiment ain’t leading Nebraska Democrats to victory.

But she is mistaken about where the local grass-roots really are.


So what DID happen?

Jean Stothert ran the city well for 4 years.
And when voting for or against an incumbent, the question is: Should they be kept on to continue, or should they be fired? And is the alternative better?

They re-hired Jean Stothert.


Why was Jean Stothert re-hired?

1) Public Safety

Here’s some news: People believe she keeps the city safer.

There’s a reason you now know how many additional police were hired. (Everyone! 56!)

There’s a reason the Police Chief continually showed his support, and corrected the accusations against the police throughout the campaign.

There’s a REASON the Police Union did NOT endorse her opponent, instead staying neutral.

It’s because she has worked with the police throughout her four years, because she knows how important public safety is to people. In fact, it’s the #1 issue.

Here’s the other thing: Who was hammering her on police issues? The fire fighters’ union leadership.
You notice the cute line from fire fighters’ union President Steve LeClair to the Mayor after the election?

“It is our hope that the Mayor can put our differences aside…”

Ha! “Our” differences?

That would be the fire fighters’ union leadership’s differences with the Mayor, which if the campaign is any indication, was that they simply didn’t want her re-elected.

They didn’t run any ads saying fire services were deficient.
They didn’t run any ads saying she jammed an unfair contract down their throats.
Instead they ran lots and lots and lots and lots of ads saying the POLICE were deficient.

And then the Police Chief — and notably the Police Union — stepped up and swatted them down.

Interesting in that little letter that LeClair told the Mayor to put “her” differences aside. Seeing as he clearly has no plans to put his aside…

2) Roads

Here’s the thing about roads in Omaha:
They are really crappy in certain areas in the spring.
And then roads repairs begin, and everyone complains about cones everywhere.
And it’s been happening for years and years.

(I remember my Latin teacher in high school, talking about how well the Romans built their roads, comparing it to how terrible the construction on Dodge Street was. That was 1982.)

If the election was in February, it may have been about plowing snow.
If the election was in July, it may have been about shootings (that often go up in the summertime).
If the election was in September, it may have been about some other local thing.

Point is, these are cyclical. While the public would like the issue solved, they also understand that one mayor can’t necessarily solve it. But they do expect work to be done.

So when the mayor comes out with the doubled budget for roads, and a very specific plan of exactly where roads are getting fixed, the public can say, OK.

Now lets say Heath Mello had come out with a different plan. He’s going to fix X roads,  here’s what he’s going to spend, and here’s the new polymer that he’ll use so that they’re good forever!

But he didn’t.
He was much like one of the TED lectures where they go on and on about the problem…and then don’t propose any solutions.


Taylor J. Royal

Now a funny thing happened on the way to the Primary.

Taylor Royal.

(Well, Taylor himself isn’t funny, but…)

Now Taylor dug himself a goofy hole early with that NFL team thing. There’s an argument that it gave him some free media early, but it really shot down his chances as a more credible candidate in the race.

But his TV and billboard ads were a home-run for his campaign — and for Heath Mello.

They hammered the Mayor on the roads issue, and gave a voice for the anti-streetcar people. And they let Heath Mello kick back and not have to spend money hammering the Mayor.

Roads never stopped being “an issue”, but it wasn’t one that Mello could claim victory on, since he never really proposed an alternative that people could point to.

And then the streetcar issue arguably became another miscue for him.

First his flip, calling for a “pause”, on the streetcar was somewhat of a joke, since he had been the main proponent of it in the primary. Heck, the Mayor arguably was trying to out-streetcar Mello on the issue. Which lead to Taylor Royal grabbing it and running.

And then Mello’s claim that the Mayor had already spent $30 million, or committed $30 million was just never credible. The OWH called him out on it repeatedly. And the Mayor called him a “Liar” about it on her TV ads.


And he never responded.

Couple that with the Police Chief’s hammering of Dunning and the fire fighter union ads, and Mello’s flipflop on abortion.

That’s a campaign built on sand, just saying “truly” and “vision” over and over.

In the mean time, the Mayor points to safety, taxes and a thriving city.


Some Stothert campaign staff


I’d give you inside scoops if there really were any.
But most of it was public.

I’ll tell you that there was some significant angst after the final results on Primary Night. Probably like any campaign, there was a solid dose of fear injected that put a fire under everyone’s butts.

There was a feeling that any screw-up could mean losing the race.

And that probably helped.

No one was taking it easy, especially the Mayor. She walked and walked and walked door to door, every weekend. There’s not a Mayor in a major city who walked as much as she did. (And oh by the way, that was AFTER she literally broke her back.)

But the campaign kept calling and calling, and walking and walking. It sent out mail, hit with online ads, and of course had a solid TV and radio campaign.

They say the election was all about turn-out, and look who turned out. Stothert voters, particularly in West O.

But take a look at South O. The Mayor has always been all over the city, but particularly gave attention to South Omaha in the campaign. Unlike much of North Omaha that simply votes Democrat because they always vote Democrat, South Omaha took more notice of the Mayor’s work in the area, and her campaigning too.

And the results showed it.



How ’bout me?

Well, I was the Digital Director, “social media” guy. And if anything, I found that social media is becoming more and more as important as paid media and earned media. It is a powerful segment where people go every day, and if you ignore it, you’re ignoring an area where voters actually spend time.

One thing that I found interesting was the difference between two of the competing areas of Twitter and Facebook. Our voters were on The Facebook, not so much on the Twitter.

I’ve always enjoyed Twitter, as a bit of a battleground place. You go there to spar with your opponents, stake out your side, battle a bit.

And it’s dominated by Democrats.

There were/are waaay more Mello peeps than Stothert peeps on the Twitter. I sort of expected that, and was ready to engage, like I always had via @LeavenworthSt.

I created a new Twitter account using my name, but wanted something different from the one that I use to send out photos of my kids, etc.

So I created, “@JerKrat”. Didn’t think much of it. My friends, wife, call me “Jer”.

Then I will give it to former Lincoln resident Kyle Michaelis, whom I’ve sparred with for many years, asking, “Did you really just name yourself ‘@JerkRat’?”

Honest to Gaia, I did not see that at all.
My kids got a pretty good laugh out of it.

And I considered just embracing it, for about a day.
Then my wife noted that I probably didn’t want to live with every connotation associated with the two terms, and should just abandon it.

I discovered that it wasn’t difficult to switch to “@JerryKrat”.

Not that the Dems have let up. But JerkRat doesn’t go to me anymore…

Then there was the 3 day period where my Twitter identity was stolen, and someone created “@JerryKrat_”. (See what they did there?)

Copied all my headers, photos etc. Started harassing people as me. They believed him. It took me 3 days to get Twitter to take it down.

And to be honest, I didn’t see all of that coming. My experience on Twitter has always been that people are tough, but fair. You slam each other’s positions. Defend your own. You take your lumps. Give out a few. But in general, it had always been a place of…mutual political respect.

When I screwed up with the Twitter account name, I had to tip my cap to the hard-core Dem who ID’d it. And then I came back, as one does.

But then something else happened. I’d make a political argument, and suddenly it would be, “What an awful person you are! How dare you not listen to voters! Look who Jean Stothert hires! Is THAT who you want running the city!”

(All in 144 characters or less, mind you.)

And I get it. Anything for an advantage, and all that.
But it’s not the Twitter I knew. Nor one that I’m interested in being a part of.

So, my personal Tweets became much more banal.
Safe comments.
Boring, often.
Ah well.
Such is a campaign.

But the other thing I found, particularly on Twitter, but on The Facebook as well, is just how crass and vulgar the Mayor’s opponents can be.

Just some real vile, hating stuff. I started a screenshot file for all the times someone said, “F*** the Mayor” — but they didn’t use asterisks. And that file is chock-full.

I’ll be honest, I don’t get people that do that.
I can even understand people who may think that…but then they write it down and post it? Who are you?

Of course I’ve also never seen so many new accounts created with nom de plumes either. Now you can laugh that the guy who was only known as “Street Sweeper” is complaining about this. But my blog was up for over 3 years before I got a Twitter account. For instance, I don’t mind the anonymous angry, hard-left leaning “Aksarbent” blog’s posts or tweets If you want to find out what else they have to say, there’s a trove of posts over years. (For instance, I’m sure they see themselves as middle-of-the-road.)

But for every one of those, there’s 10-20 accounts called @Angry-Hang-Glider or somesuch who’s only goal is to make scatological references.

Why you think that helps get your guy elected, I will never know.


The Mello camp

And I’ll say this: one of the reasons why the Stothert campaign was working all-out day after day, was because the Heath Mello campaign…was a good campaign.

Sure maybe the strategy, and campaign issues mentioned above were lacking.

But the TV ads were really, really well produced. The campaign’s overall ground game (particularly yard signs) was good.

I liked the Mello campaign’s idea of having a separate Twitter handle just to discuss issues — though I’d argue that it was under-used. I thought their graphics were very, very good. Their website was clean and easy to navigate. They pushed out their message on a regular basis, sent out lots of photos, etc.

And their candidate was politically top notch. I can’t imagine that they ever went into a debate worrying that he would come up short, or not have a response ready. Heath speaks with ease, is very comfortable in a crowd and I’ve seen him work a room as well as anyone.

But the campaign’s problem was that they had little to run on.

They’d throw out issues, with little to no solutions.

Mayor’s plan on roads no good? We’d have a more comprehensive plan! With truly more money!

Mayor’s plan on police no good? We’d truly look to address the shortcomings and bring in all the players to truly have a discussion to solve all the issues.

Mayor’s economic plan no good? We’d truly address the issues of Omaha, and make it a city of the future, with vision and opportunity for all!

Those, kids, are what are known as platitudes.
They sound just awesome.
And get you no where.


The Stothert campaigners

I’m not going to go line by line on every person on the campaign staff and the great vols, because as soon as I start, I’d never be able to end.

Suffice it to say, that the strategy laid out and accomplished was a masterful job.

Everyone had a part. Everyone did their part.

Fantastic volunteers. Great hires.


Which brings us to the final point…

Mayor Jean Stothert is a rock-star on the issues. I never once went into a debate, forum or anywhere else, worried that she didn’t know an issue up and down, backwards and sideways.

I first really saw her do this at a West O town hall forum, before the campaign began. She fielded every question and issue thrown at her — until there were no more questions. She is never stumped for a response, and has a logical, well informed answer for nearly every issue.

That doesn’t make her perfect. But it does instill confidence in a campaign when you know your candidate is pretty much always going to do fine on her feet. And when the campaign knows that, the citizens and voters know it as well.

Voters know she is always working, is very knowledgable, wants the best for the city, and usually has a pretty good idea what will make it better. And if she doesn’t personally, she’s getting the people to give her the best advice.

And all the “Mean Jean” crap? I had friends ask me if she’s just an awful person to work with. And I will tell you, I’ve worked with awful people. Mean people. And Jean Stothert ain’t one a them. Yes, she’s no-nonsense when business is serious — and much of the campaign was professionally and politically dead serious. And so is running the city. So when people encounter her on a less stressful day, they figure they’ll encounter the same person in a tough negotiation.

Uh no. She’s a regular person. (Just like those men you work with.) And so that means you’ll get a tough negotiator in tough situations.

I suppose if you get the short end of the stick, calling her Mean Jean may make you feel better.

You got a great Mayor, Omaha.

I’m glad to have helped.


In Memoriam: Judith A. Herbster

Judith Ann Herbster of Falls City, NE, passed away May 2, 2017, in Falls City. She was born April 2, 1955, in WaKeeney, KS, to Robert E. Wagg and Doris A. (Armbruster Wagg) Peterson. Judy spent her childhood
in Ogallah, KS.

Judy loved children, and was a daycare provider upon her 1973 graduation from Trego Community High School in WaKeeney, until she became a Conklin Company distributor in 1979. Little did she know, her decision to join Conklin would change her life forever.

Meeting her husband, Charles W. Herbster, through the company she already loved, on June 26, 1982, they were married at Christview Christian Church in Tulsa, OK.

To say Judy was passionate about Conkin was an understatement. She was a champion of the business and paved the way for women in the company. Judy was the first woman President’s Club member in 1980; the first female Director in 1982; the first Conklin Director to develop 5 directors in one year; and the first lady to receive the “Director of the Year” Award in 1985. A role model for many, Judy became the first and only woman president of the Conklin company in its 48-year history. Seeing the potential in the corporation, Charles W. Herbster and Judy purchased the company in 1992. Soon after, she was appointed as President and Chief Operating Officer and served as such until her passing.

In addition to her involvement with Conklin, she worked hand in hand with Charles at their companies: Herbster Angus Farms, Inc. and Carico Farms, Inc., Falls City, NE. All three operations are rooted deeply in agriculture, and Judy was dedicated and instrumental to their unparalleled success.

Judy said recently, “Live everyday with no regrets.” She put her heart into everything including cooking meals for the farm family, inspiring corporate excellence and caring for those in need. Judy was a dear friend and uplifting mentor who demanded perfection, pushed for greatness and jubilantly celebrated success. Judy’s legacy of hard-work, desire to serve and devotion to excellence will remain in the lives of every person she met. From her humble youth in WaKeeney to becoming the President and Chief Operating Officer of nearly a 100 million dollar company, she lived the American Dream!

Judy was a member of Bible Baptist Church at Lincoln, NE, and the American Angus Association. Judy is survived by husband, Charles W. Herbster of Falls City, parents, Robert E. Wagg of Falls City and Doris A. Peterson of Platte City, MO, brother, Duane Wagg of Platte City, sisters, Sandy Schaben and husband Jim of Columbus, NE, Anna Cooper and husband Mark of Platte City, Sherri Willgohs and husband Dan of Liberty, MO, and seven nieces and nephews and 10 great nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by a sister in infancy, Jeanne. –