Promises, promises

First a little Separated at Birth for your weekend…

Fiorina-Craighead-SAB 01

(Likely) Republican Presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina and Republican state Senator Joni Craighead!


On April 10th, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts issued a press release saying,

I remain strongly opposed to extending state benefits to individuals who have entered our country illegally, and remain opposed to this legislation.

On April 23rd, Lt. Gov. Mike Foley was reported saying…

Foley also said Ricketts is unhappy that legislation is advancing to allow about 2,700 children of illegal immigrants to have Nebraska driver’s licenses, but the governor hasn’t decided if he’ll veto the bill.

Wait, what?
What are we missing here?

“Strongly opposed” has turned into “unhappy”.
“Remain opposed” has turned into “maybe I’ll veto, maybe I won’t.”

Nothing has changed in the bill itself. Or how the people it would affect got into that situation.  Or how they will or will not be affected if the bill were to become law (or not).

And many of the supporters haven’t changed their positions either.
For instance, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert reiterated her support of the bill a few weeks ago — but hasn’t changed her position since letting it be known in the 2013 Mayoral primary.

The Chambers of Commerce who support it aren’t submitting any new info. There are certainly reasons why one would support the bill, but it is not as if they are different than they were 9 months ago.

And Ricketts was firmly on this issue during the 2014 campaign as well.

The OWH wrote:

The Omaha businessman says he “empathizes” with the children’s plight, but believes the nation has to take a “principled approach” to immigration. That means, he said, no one should be rewarded for illegal activity — not even the children.

“Our taxpayer benefits are generated by our citizens in the state for people who are here legally, and that’s who they ought to be preserved for,” Ricketts said.

Nebraska is one of only two states that deny driver’s licenses to children who were brought into this country illegally, even though they have been granted temporary leave to stay in this country by President Barack Obama.

Ricketts said he would work to keep Nebraska as one of the holdouts, but Hassebrook said he would work to change the state’s policy.

So where is the uncertainty coming from?

And would GOP primary voters have given Ricketts the 2,175 vote edge, had he wavered on this issue back then?

It’s not certain if Ricketts is getting weak-kneed on this issue, but many would certainly be surprised to hear, at this point, that the veto threat isn’t official.


FWIW, a surprising comment hit the Leavenworth St. message boards this morning.

The last Leavenworth St. post noted endorsements by Nebraska Right to Life in the Lincoln Mayor’s race, and also mentioned Ben Sasse (unrelatedly). Some commenters were then hassling Senator Sasse for not responding to his constituent mail (something we can neither confirm nor deny).

But then Julie Schmit-Albin from Nebraska Right to Life made this comment:

As to Senator Sasse, how about a campaign meme/pledge that was made regarding pro-life issues that we knew was unachievable but it was touted among pro-life voters anyway.

Here it is:
The First 100 Days, Ben Sasse Pro-Life:
1. Pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
2. Pass the Parental Non-Discrimination Act.
3. Stop forced taxpayer funding of abortion.
4. Stop the assault on religious liberty.
5. Stop government donations to Planned Parenthood.
6. Promote adoption by loving families.

What, if any of this (except #6.) could be achieved in the first 100 days of his term? Why do campaigns insist on hyperbole? How could Senator Sasse look back on this now and think that issuing this kind of exaggerated promise was a good idea?

I have yet to hear from him or his office as to what on this list he has accomplished or is working on. That’s the problem with grandiose claims made in the heat of a campaign. Most voters will forget but there are some who will call you on it later.

Yowch! Well that’s a punch to the nuts.
You can’t blame Albin, who is laser focused on her issues, for being a bit peeved when an endorsement from her organization is so (arguably) pivotal in an election.

Campaign promises are tricky — I asked Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert very specifically about them from her election  — and it is certainly worth the time to check them AFTER an election.


Sasse was on FOXNews yesterday discussing the Iran issue.
See it here:


ICYMI, an interesting story in the LJS regarding general civic involvement in Nebraska, particularly in comparison to other states.

One stat that jumped out:

Nebraska ranks in the middle or lower when it comes to voter registration (36th), voting (32nd) and talking with public officials (27th). The numbers are worst for young people, ages 18 to 24. Only 47 percent registered to vote in the 2012 election, and only 40.3 percent actually cast a ballot. The index found that the younger the person the least likely they were to contact public official.

It’s no big shock that younger people don’t vote, etc.
But Nebraska, as a whole, 36th in voter registration and 32nd in voting?

Heck, when the football team was that low, the coach was shipped cursing off to Ohio.
Are Nebraskans really going to stand for that kind of ranking?

“Through these gates pass…the greatest voters in the nation“?

How about a bipartisan PSA on that issue? (For a start…)

Radio, TV & more plans?

Andy Stebbing for Mayor of Lincoln has a new radio ad up.
Hear it here:

Once again, this lays it out for the Lincoln voters: You can vote for Beutler, and spending big money on bike lanes and barber poles.

Or you can vote for Stebbing, who has a law enforcement background and who has experience and results innovating and saving taxpayer money.

(And if you want to hear more from Stebbing, be sure to listen to my interview with him on The Wheels Down Politics Show.)


On that note, Nebraska Right to Life issued this flyer with their endorsements for the Lincoln elections:

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As we have noted in the past, you might ask, “Who cares whether the Board of Education member is Pro-Life? Or the Weed Commissioner, for that matter!

Just remember that most pols get to where they are by starting low and climbing the political ladder. (Think County Board member, City Councilman, Mayor, Governor, Ag Secretary and Senator Mike Johanns.)

Nebraska Right to Life knows this, and wants to push their candidates early — and nip those candidates in the bud who oppose their issues.

Forward political thinking.


The bill in the Nebraska legislature to repeal the Death Penalty got a little national attention last night from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow (they’re touting her as the “real news” John Stewart these days).

(You can hear the Nebraska references at the 13:49 mark, and then again in the last minute.)

If you can, like I did, sit through 20 minutes of her talking to herself in an echo-y studio, you’ll note that she references the repeal proposal in “Deep Red” Nebraska, “conservative Nebraska”.

(Gee, maybe if you play your cards right, you could get her to do her show from the Rotunda. It would mean more people watching her than do now…)

It is not clear how this vote is going to go down — and you should expect a fair amount of horse trading at least being proposed on it.

If the Governor really feels strongly about this, it’s going to take more than just a veto.


You couldn’t miss it yesterday with Nebraska Football Coach Mike Riley and AD Shawn Eichorst visiting Washington, D.C., to apparently JUST go to the Nebraska Breakfast at the Capitol.

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If you’ve ever been to the Nebraska Breakfast, this is easily the most exciting thing to happen at it since the original Nebraska Breakfast, where the Founders had a meal of whisky and hemp and discussed the Louisiana Purchase.

But note it here, that if Ben Sasse ever decides to run for the highest office in the land, he followed in the footsteps of one of the greats, by trying to push a football play onto the coach.

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(We will note that Sasse could be like the “going to China” Nixon, as opposed to the “pay off The Plumbers” one…)


And next week is “Nebraska Wish Week”, to support Make-A-Wish Nebraska.

See their 30 second spot here, and feel free to contribute to this great cause.


And finally, for the “news” you’re REALLY looking for, here is KETV’s report on the UNO Arena’s new Taco Cannon:

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Be sure to listen to the recent podcasts on The Wheels Down Politics Show! Tell your friends (and enemies)!

The Wheels Down Politics Show – David Boomer

(Click above to play in the browser or Direct download by clicking here, or by searching Wheels Down Politics on iTunes.)

Dave Boomer 001Jerry Kratochvil talks with political consultant David Boomer.

Jerry and Dave talk about how Dave came up through the political ranks, first with Nebraska Rep. John Y. McCollister and Senator Carl Curtis, before working on such thing as revamping the welfare system in Connecticutt.

Then Dave talks about campaigning in Nebraska, mainly with Congressman Lee Terry and the battles he has had in Nebraska’s 2nd District.

He concludes with his thoughts on how #NE02 is shaping up for 2016.

The Kowalski Group
Facebook: Dave Boomer


You can find this, and all of our podcasts at and by searching Wheels Down Politics on iTunes.

What is your goal?

Apropos of nothing, a quick Separated at Birth for ya…

Matt Williams - Boomer Esiason SAB 01

State Senator Matt Williams of Gothenburg…and Boomer Esiason!
(Well, maybe that’s what Boomer has coming in a few years…)


The Medical marijuana bill is going to the full legislature.

Few would doubt that there may be or are medical benefits to marijuana. But many want to know, specifically, what those are.

And, hey you know what? It’s 2015! Fifteen years AFTER the Newmannium! Twenty-three years after Bill Clinton said he didn’t inhale! Forty-five years since Brewer & Shipley went “One toke over the line”.

Hey FDA, howsabout a definitive report on medical marijuana? What it can affect. How, if at all, it should be dispensed. How, if at all, the drug companies should be involved. This has been accomplished with opiates. Why not cannabis?

Because right now, as one of our esteemed commenters put it, all the medical marijuana and decriminlaization and Colorado talk is mainly about weed smokers wanting to get their buzz on without hassle. Which is fine, if that’s the discussion you want to have. But if it’s purely medical, then let’s have THAT disscussion, without the b.s. of dispenseries, and a note from your doctor, and the like.

Anyway, good luck on that Senator Garrett.


In their 100 Days story on the Governor, the OWH quotes Democrat state Senators , saying…

“He’s focused on seeking solutions to problems rather than playing politics like the former governor,” said State Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha, the chairman of the Legislature’s powerful Appropriations Committee.

“Compared to the last governor, (Ricketts) has done a lot more listening and a lot less barking,” said Omaha Sen. Burke Harr, who, like Mello, is a registered Democrat in the officially nonpartisan Legislature.

Uh huh.
When your political opponents — and make no mistake, they are OPPONENTS — criticize you for being “too tough” or “too political”, take that as a point of pride.

When they start telling everyone how awesome you are, then you can start worrying.
Especially when things don’t seem to be going your way.


For those of you (at the OWH) who are still high-fiving yourselves about the esteemed Brad Ashford, Member of Congress, take a look at this transcript from a recent House committee hearing:

The chair is now recognize the gentleman from Nebraska, Mr. Ashford, for five minutes.

If this has been asked, I apologize I was a bit late. But the — the global strike force in Offutt, the functional component command, could you just — if you’ve already talked about that, but could you just — if you have, I’m sorry to ask it again, but could you talk about that, the Offutt Air Force Base Joint Command, functional command facility just (inaudible) future and how it — how you see it evolving.

I could ask, General, if you’d talk about that or…

(Inaudible) security.

Well, Sir…

…and if that — if that question is too — up too, I apologize.

Not really a…

Well, the joint functional command component at Offutt and how do you see that evolving into the future and whether it has the capability or the resources moving forward.

Unfortunately, Sir, I’ll have to get back to you for the record on that.

I don’t have anything else.

The chair now recognizes the gentleman from Oklahoma, Mr. Bridenstine, for five minutes.

I’d say Ashford’s final comments there pretty much sum things up.
If only there were someone around town who had some sort of expertise on Offutt.
You know, maybe even someone willing to run for office…


By the way, could someone remind Brad or whomever the new press person is who writes his Facebook posts, that in the House of Representatives, the bills are known as “H.R”, and not “LR”.

Ashford LR2

I guess that’s a step up from calling them “LB”.


Don Walton is his usual self in his weekly column (though maybe it’s just because of his miserable Yankees). He says, “Oh, no, the 2016 presidential race has begun and it is going to be ugly, negative and dispiriting for the next year and a half.

Really? That’s the takeaway? Everything is awful?

Heck, it’s barely started, and I’m already enjoying it.
Just a hop and a skip over in Iowa, they’ve already had numerous events for the candidates, a few or more where multiple candidates showed. And they talk about their vision for America.

There’s a great sorting going on, particularly in the Republican party. Guys like Cruz and Paul and put themselves proudly on the right, and are talking to all the media. They are contrasting themselves with Bush and Christie and Walker and Perry and Jindal, who aim to show their accomplishments as state Executives. Others such as Rubio and Carson and Fiorina and Graham are introducing themselves. Huckabee and Santorum are re-introiducing themselves, hoping to catch fire again.

Now maybe you like some of them, or all of them or none of them.
But let’s relax with the “ugly, negative and dispiriting” talk, because it’s just not true. Or, of course, you’ve chosen not to pay attention and come up with your own narrative.

Unless of course, you’re talking about the Hillary primary, where you ride around in a mis-named van, go into Chipotle undercover and don’t take any questions from the press.

I suppose that hits all of Don’s marks.
(Which also works if you’re talking about the Yankees.)


My $.02 on the Mayor Jean Stothert and texting:

I get why they want to say text messages should be part of open records. But it might be time for things to be re-written for the modern age of communications.

Do we require every official phone call to be recorded? Should we? What about if a phone call — or a message — IS recorded? Is that the standard? Should it be?

Nowadays, text messages are the equivalent of a live conversation. Why are they treated like a letter — which an email is equivalent to?

How about this: Text messages are exempt, but who you sent one to, and any attachments are public record.

And I have no idea how those should be kept.

Someone fetch the intern to come up with a plan.


For those of you interested, there is a new episode of The Wheels Down Politics Show up, with my interview of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. Hear it here:

(Click above to play in the browser or Direct download by clicking here, or by searching Wheels Down Politics on iTunes.)

Unicam 2016

Carl Curtis button 01Good Frioday afternoon peeps!

Let’s call this a Carl Curtis Friday, where we invoke the name of one of Nebraska’s favorite Reagan Republicans (before there WERE Reagan Republicans!).

Give us your takes on all things Conservative — and otherwise — as the debate has been engaged in the Legislature.

Especially if the Repeal the Death Penalty forces DON’T get past a filibuster, consider the 2016 Legislative race on like Donkey Kong.

The national forces will be in whole hog.
By a back-of-the-napkin count, we see 22 races. (Feel free to correct me here if I’ve missed somewhere.)
11 open seats — with 10 of those being sitting Pro-REPEAL votes.
Then there are 11 or 12 (probable) re-elect races — with 9 of those being PRO-Repeal, 5 of those Democrat seats.

Point being, assuming a turn on the Death Penalty is in sight, it could be a BIG issue that would draw national money and attention to the little one house legislature (where a little cash can go a long way).

Oh, and don’t forget the Big Dog in the McMansion who has been known to know a few people who can drop some cash on a candidate or two.


Thanks to a loyal reader who pointed out the Roll Call article on some 2016 campaign:

On the Democratic side, vulnerable Rep. Brad Ashford raised $200,000. It’s a bit more than Democrats expected for a guy who publicly decried the need to fundraise and who has been shedding staff, but isn’t the figure he should have brought in given his competitive race.

As another put it though, “Will he likely have plenty of cash to be fully competitive in 2016? Yes.


Have a great weekend!

Does Republican = Conservative?

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Self-described “Conservatives” against the Death Penalty

A group of Senators and their hangers-on took to the Capitol Rotunda yesterday to express their desire to repeal the Death Penalty in Nebraska.

They called themselves, and were described by the local media as being “conservative”.

They were all Republicans as well.

So here is the question: If you are a Republican state Senator, are you automatically a “conservative”?

Because anyone can be a Republican. All you have to do is check the box and PRESTO, you’re a Republican! Many politicos would argue that if you want a future in Nebraska politics you’re much much better off registering as a Republican, no matter where you actually land on the political spectrum.

So, lets look at the 10 Republican state Senators who have stated they want to repeal the Death Penalty, and a few of their recent votes:

Colby Coash: Against allowing open votes for Committee Chairs; For repealing mandatory minimums.

Al Davis: For giving illegal aliens drivers licenses; Against allowing open votes for Committee Chairs; For repealing mandatory minimums.

Laura Ebke: For raising the Gas Tax; Against Winner Take All in Nebraska; For repealing mandatory minimums.

Tommy Garrett: For giving illegal aliens drivers licenses; Against allowing open votes for Committee Chairs; For repealing mandatory minimums.

Mark Kolterman: For raising the Gas Tax; Against allowing open votes for Committee Chairs; For repealing mandatory minimums.

Bob Krist: Against allowing open votes for Committee Chairs; For repealing mandatory minimums.

Brett Lindstrom: For raising the Gas Tax.

John McCollister: For raising the Gas Tax; Against Winner Take All in Nebraska; For repealing mandatory minimums.

Now I happened to pick 5 votes — one of which hasn’t come to a vote of the full body yet. And I’m looking at this group, because THEY’RE the ones who have declared themselves “conservative”. (There are others who have comparative voting records on these issues.)

Feel free to pick yours.

At what point does your actual VOTING record trump your declaration that you are “conservative” or, as Bob Krist, who endorsed Democrat Brad Ashford for Congress, declared on the radio:

“I am Republican enough. I am conservative enough.”

Enough for whom?
For your own conscience?
Or how about for those that elected you?

Lindstrom, for one, said his “view of capital punishment has changed since he took office in January.

So, from December to say, February his position changed…on the Death Penalty? You’d think that is something the voters may have been interested in, no? And he flips on such a major issue in a span of 3 months? What’s next?

And he and the other “conservatives” say their support of the repeal say it’s based on money — it’s too expensive to put someone to death. But Governor Ricketts says he has a study that says the cost is negligible.

So if that is the case, then what is the real reason? (And where does someone like Lindstrom stand on that?)

Look, you can be for or against the Death Penalty, for whatever reason you like. But let’s stop calling every Nebraska Republican a “conservative”.

Especially once they have a voting record to review.


And it would seem that we can pretty much declare that the honeymoon that Governor Pete Ricketts had with this overwhelmingly Republican legislature lasted only about a fortnight longer than that of Darva Conger and Rick Rockwell. (Look it up, kids.)

Here, we’ll make it more up to date: The Cigar Bar law was the “connection” date that the girls make with The Bachelor, and then everything after has been the hounding of the now-split couple by TMZ after the Final Rose ceremony.

Winner-Take-All, Gas Tax, Licenses for Illegals, Repeal of Mandatory Minimums, Death Penalty — where is the Governor and his team on this stuff?

When the session started we were convinced that it was all about back-room deals, and that the Gov was playing Chess against the Checkers players in the Unicam.

Instead there is a tremendous leadership void. Many say it goes back to Team Ricketts failing to mend any fences after the primary. It was a dangerous move and was bound to negatively impact huge swaths of the administration — and we are seeing the ramifications on the legislative side first. Where will we see it next?

And here’s a question: Is anyone in the Unicameral afraid of Governor Ricketts? Are there any repercussions for crossing him? Does anyone care? Usually there is significance when you cross a leader. You mess with the bull, you get the horns.

And do these types of situations usually get better?
We are watching and wondering.


Brad Ashford’s fundraising numbers were announced yesterday — raised about $200K with $162K COH — and the reactions varied.

Some local pols thought they were decent enough. Others thought the comparison to Lee Terry (by the OWH) — an eight term Member — were not on the ball at all. They thought a better comparison would, obviously, be to a freshman member who should be working his butt off to raise cash — as opposed to just grabbing the low hanging PAC fruit.

(For instance, Iowa Republican Freshman Rep. David Young, whose district includes Des Moines and Council Bluffs, has raised over $333K, with $351K COH.)

But the OWH is going to support Ashford no matter how goofy he gets. Heck, they wrote an editorial about mandatory minimums and the legislature, and instead of talking to, you know, a member of the legislature, they took quotes from Congressman Ashford! Wha-huh?

A frequent lament of the political class in the 2nd District is that INCUMBENT Ashford just is not going to be easy to beat. They knew that to be the case, no matter how many newbies to the party thought it would be great to get rid of Lee Terry so they could put in a “real” conservative (sniff).

But now you’ve got Ashford. And he is actually able to say the right thing when asked an easy question (“I’m not concerned about campaigning. I’m here to represent the people…“) — even if it IS true that he is a campaigning flake.

Oh, and when Hillary comes to the 2nd to campaign, and dumps a bunch of cash for the local Democrats because Nebraska doesn’t have Winner Take All, just remember how awesome it is that the state bucks what the rest of the country does on that one.


Back to the “conservative” question, remember back in 2006 when Ben Nelson was “conservative enough” for Nebraska — then was the final vote for ObamaCare?

Now there is another consequence of that vote, with a mandate of ObamaCare coming down that will change the definition of small group market from 1-50 employees to 1-100 employees in 2016.

This means employers with 51-100 employees would be subjected to modified community rating, increasing their premium rates and impacting coverage, in addition to dealing with the employer mandate which also takes effect in 2016.

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry is working to fix that by co-sponsoring a new bill (HR 1624) that would let the states decide how to define those markets. And the aforementioned Brad Ashford may be jumping on it as well.

And the wheels spin.


ICYMI, Senator Fischer spoke to the press on her Equal Pay amendment. See it here:

Don’t be surprised if you see her, more and more, in the national press…

The Wheels Down Politics Show – Ryan Horn

(Click above to play in the browser or Direct download by clicking here, or by searching Wheels Down Politics on iTunes.)

Ryan Horn 01Jerry Kratochvil sits down for an interview with political strategist Ryan Horn of Sandler-Innocenzi.

Ryan talks about his background in politics — growing up in Omaha, working on and managing campaigns around the country, working in the corporate world, then eventually managing Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert’s victory in 2013.

Ryan talks about some of the TV ads that he produced for the Stothert campaign and for Lee Terry’s general election campaign in 2014.

They conclude with Ryan’s thoughts about the 2016 campaign for Nebraska’s 2nd District Congressional seat.

On the web: Sandler-Innocenzi
Twitter: @RyanBHorn


You can find this, and all of our podcasts at and by searching Wheels Down Politics on iTunes.

Who wants more taxes?!

Senator Deb Fischer was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe yesterday and discussed the “inevitability” of Hillary and her equal pay amendment.

See it here:

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Senator Fischer is very “even keel”. She doesn’t get wound up or distracted and stays on message like a champ.

She represents Nebraska well.


Nebraska Unicameral Speaker Galen Hadley made a point to the LJS about raising taxes:

“I’ve heard a lot of the arguments that people in Nebraska do not want to raise taxes,” he said. “I think that’s true if you go out and just ask, ‘Do you want to raise your taxes?’ … But if you say, ‘Are you willing to raise taxes for this purpose?’ you get different answers.

“The idea that Nebraskans do not want to raise taxes I think needs to be couched in terms of: increased taxes for what?”

This is similar to a conversation between Fat Tony and Bart Simpson:

Fat Tony: Bart, is it wrong to steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family?
Bart: No.
Fat Tony: Well, suppose you got a large starving family. Is it wrong to steal a truckload of bread to feed them?
Bart: Uh uh.
Fat Tony: And, what if your family don’t like bread? They like… cigarettes?
Bart: I guess that’s okay.
Fat Tony: Now, what if instead of giving them away, you sold them at a price that was practically giving them away. Would that be a crime, Bart?
Bart: Hell, no.

So yes, the people can be suckers who can be convinced of anything.
We will concede that.

This vote and Driver’s Licenses for “DREAMers” will be very telling for those in the halls of the capitol.


Appearing on KLIN’s Jack & Dave Show, Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler said, “We (the city) are not spending any roads money on anything but roads.”

This seemed to be in response to Republican Mayoral candidate, and Lancaster County Treasurer, Andy Stebbing in the recent Lincoln Chamber of Commerce “debate”, where Stebbing suggested cutting the Lincoln Wheel Tax.

In that forum Beutler said

“That’s nonsense,” said Beutler of Stebbing’s plan, including reducing the wheel tax substantially.

“Our roads are badly underfunded.” That was the reason for raising the wheel tax, Beutler said.

So is Lincoln ONLY spending road money on, you know, roads?

Well, Stebbing points on in a recent release that Beutler spent nearly a million dollars of roads money on, you guessed it, bike paths and sidewalks. You know, those overused bike paths, which are crowded from November through March, full of chuckholes and guys doing cold patches…

Adds Stebbing:

The statement that the city is not spending roads money on anything but roads is pretty definitive and very wrong.

Citizens in Lincoln are unhappy with the conditions of their roads. Is Mayor Beutler trying to hide the fact that some roads money is being spent on bicycle paths and sidewalks, or is it a case where he just doesn’t know?

Nancy Hicks of the LJS told us that Beutler “understands how city government works“.

So, as an expert, was Chris Beutler lying, or does he just not understand how the city spends roads money?


And back at the LJS, Don Walton had this to say about Omaha state Senator Burke Harr:

But not before Harr was able to deliver one of his patented clever lines.
“How much does this bill mean to you?” Sen. Ernie Chambers, an opponent, asked Harr during the debate.
“It means the Woodmen of the World to me,” Harr said.

But Walton apparently missed this one from Harr, as Tweeted by Deena Winter:

“We have some very good debaters in here. They’re very good. Some call them master debaters. That’s not the issue.”

Apparently that’s what passes for funny at Notre Dame…and on the floor of the state legislature.
(It was also hilarious…in the 9th grade.)


And Don Walton, ever the Yankee fan, wishes MLB would “reboot and restart this baseball season“.

Ya see his Yankees, who spend over $200 million dollars on their lineup, are in last place in the the AL East.

Whereas the nearby American League Champion Kansas City Royals, major league club to the Omaha Storm Chasers, are 7-0. Oh, and they spend about a 100 million dollars less on their players than the Yankees.

Oh but hey Don, you’ve still got 39 year old Alex Rodriguez (at first base) making an average of $27M per year. So there’s that.

(And as Rick Pitino might say, Mickey Mantle is NOT walking through that door…)

EXCLUSIVE: Shane Osborn OUT for #NE02

Shane Osborn
Shane Osborn

In an exclusive to Leavenworth St., former State Treasurer and 2014 U.S. Senate candidate Shane Osborn has stated that he will not run for Nebraska’s 2nd District Congressional seat.

Osborn told Leavenworth St.:

This past year has been a great one. Stacie and I are enjoying raising our 4 kids and if that doesn’t keep us busy enough, I launched a new business in addition to my other two. I intend to concentrate my efforts there!

Osborn was expected by many to be an automatic leader in the race, with nearly 100% name ID and a fundraising base.

Instead the race is considered by many to be wide open — with retired General Don Bacon the only officially announced GOP candidate. Chip Maxwell said in 2014 that he would run in the 2016 race, but has not made any further announcements this year.

Other names that have been out mentioned to run are state Senator John Murante, former GOP House candidate Dan Frei, attorney and Douglas County GOP counsel Garth Glissman and possibly former state Senator Tim Gay.

With Osborn’s departure, many others could be tempted to jump in.

Democrat 2nd District Representative Brad Ashford has been lackluster at fundraising and has lost staff because of his apparent disinterest in the 2016 campaign. There have also been rumors that Ashford could be challenged from the left — with the name of current Hastings resident Scott Kleeb thrown around.

Congressional prognosticator Charles Cook has called the 2nd District race a toss-up.

We will keep you updated.

Lin-oma Pols

First a little Frozen Four, UNO Hockey (or “Omaha” hockey, as the national press are calling them) Separated at Birth for ya:

UNO Head Coach Dean Blais and former Grand Island Mayor, Jay Vavricek!

Dean Blais - Jay Vavricek SAB 01

(Boy, that’s Brother-from-another-Mother suff going on there…)


After the closer-than-expected finish in the Lincoln Mayor Primary on Tuesday, the candidates immediately jumped into a forum/debate in front of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce yesterday.

Two term, going for a third, incumbent Democrat Mayor Chris Beutler and Republican Lancaster County Treasurer Andy Stebbing went at it about roads, crime and taxes, among other stuff.

Stebbing already has a record of coming up with innovative ideas, whereas Beutler’s main plans are to raise taxes. But if you want an interesting perspective, you can read LJS reporter Nancy Hicks’ analysis of the forum:

Most of Stebbing’s answers during the debate were short and to the point, while Beutler, who has been mayor for eight years and understands how city government works, provided more detailed information.

(Emphasis added.)

Ha! Niiiiiice Nancy.
This is what passes for unbiased reporting these days, eh?
Outstanding. Next time just add, “and Christopher was like a garden breeze, while that Stebbing fella smelled of beef and cheese!”

(Some think this is really a response to KLIN’s Coby Mach, after Beutler’s fouled-up hit on Stebbing last week.

After Beutler attacked Stebbing for non-payment of property taxes — when Stebbing’s payment sent by his mortgage company hadn’t been processed YET by the Country Treasurer’s office — Mach questioned whether Beutler knew how government works.)

In any case, for your listening pleasure, you can hear Andy Stebbing on my podcast, The Wheels Down Politics Show, here.


Travelling down the road to Omaha, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert sent a letter to Unicameral Speaker Hadley regarding her support for LB623, driver’s licenses for “DREAMers” — kids of illegal immigrants.

Here is the FULL TEXT of the letter:

Dear Speaker Hadley and Members of the Legislature,

LB623 is a bill that would allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) youth, sometimes referred to as DREAMers, to apply for a Nebraska driver’s license. DACA is a program created by the Department of Homeland Security that would give certain young immigrants deferred status and, among other things, make it lawful for states to issue driver’s licenses to them. As Mayor of Nebraska’s largest city, I am in support of LB623.

In order to qualify for the DACA program, an immigrant must meet the following criteria: enter the United States before age 16, currently attend school or have graduated from high school or college, and pose no public safety threat (no felony record). Many of these individuals were brought to this Country very young and know only Nebraska as their home. They have learned English, completed school and contribute to our society in many ways. For most of them, eventual citizenship is their dream.

As Mayor, ensuring public safety is vital, and our Nation’s borders must be secure. Immigration policy should be designed with our Nation’s well-being held in high regard. However, reality tells us that over the decades, millions of people have come into this country contrary to our immigration laws and many were brought here as children, through no fault of their own.

I do support a path to legal status for those who came here as a minor. Here in Omaha, we should make children of undocumented workers who are on a path to legal status have the tools they need to be
productive members of our community. It is time for the federal government to step up and take action by passing comprehensive immigration reform that will also secure our borders.

I would request the Legislature move Senator McCollister’s priority bill out of the Transportation and Telecommunication Committee and pass it into law.

Jean Stothert
Mayor, City of Omaha

You may note that while Mayor Stothert and several other Republicans are for this, several notable Republicans, such as former Governor Heineman, current Governor Ricketts and state Senator Beau McCoy are against.

However, Stothert’s support shouldn’t be a big shock to anyone. She announced her support for this idea way back when she was an Omaha Councilperson running for Mayor in 2013.

Of course back then it wasn’t much of a deal, because ALL of the candidates — Jim Suttle, Dave Nabity, Dan Welch and Brad Ashford — were for allowing DREAMers to apply for driver’s licenses.

At the time Stothert noted she supported the idea, “so that they can legally drive, and go to work and get to school.” It is also worth noting that in the general election, Stothert campaigned hard in, and won, South Omaha’s Ward 4, home of a large Latino population in the city.

The bill has 25 cosponsors, but will need another 5 votes to override a likely veto by Governor Ricketts. It will be interesting to see what comes down on this one. It will be tight.


As an aside, in his story about Mayor Stohert’s letter, the OWH’s Paul Hammel referred to Stothert as “a rising star in the Republican Party”.


I guess if you mean nationally, that would be true. But as far as the state of Nebraska goes, once you’re become the Mayor of Omaha — as opposed to, say, on the city council or a state Senator — your star has pretty much risen.

You can listen to my podcast with Star Republican Jean Stothert on this week’s edition of The Wheels Down Politics Show.


And on the subject of Risen Stars, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer has stepped up her support for women in the workplace with conservative legislation.

In an Op-Ed, she writes:

I fully agree that gender-based pay discrimination is unacceptable. I oppose well intentioned, but ultimately misguided policy prescriptions like the so-called Paycheck Fairness Act, which would hurt merit-based pay and actually curtail flexibility for women to negotiate unique employment arrangements. Instead I have offered alternative ideas on how to combat pay discrimination.

Last year, the Republican women of the Senate offered a legislative proposal that would, among other things, reinforce employers’ obligations to fully apprise employees of their rights regarding pay discrimination. Knowledge is power, and our bill equips women who might otherwise be unaware of their ability to recover lost wages.

The proposal also includes much-needed, non-retaliation language. Such language is similar to an April 8, 2014, executive order signed by President Obama. It does not authorize any new federal regulations, nor does it compel employers to disclose salary information. It prevents punitive action against employees seeking information. It’s very simple — if you want to know how your salary compares to your coworkers, you should have every right to ask. It’s as basic as the First Amendment.

Just two weeks ago, as part of the fiscal 2016 budget, the Republican-led United States Senate passed an amendment I offered containing this equal pay proposal. Unlike previous proposals from Democrats, this idea garnered bipartisan backing and passed with the support of Senators Angus King, I-Maine, Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. What’s more, 53 Republicans also voted for the idea.

It’s common sense and a fresh solution to an old problem. Any legislator — Republican or Democrat — who is seriously interested in making progress on this issue for women and moving past electioneering and scoring political points should step up and support the proposal. For the first time in over half a century, we have the opportunity to update the Equal Pay Act with a bill that actually provides changes and can realistically pass — my Workplace Advancement Act (S. 875).

Hopefully the rest of the Dems will stop their war on women and support Senator Fischer and her colleagues.


Go Mavs!!!