What’s on your plate?

The Gov unveiled the new license plate design for the Sesquicentennial and here it is…

NE 150 Plate

Now while I’m not a design major, this does seem a little…minimalist. (And I’m not going to quibble, but isn’t that more of an Oklahoma maroon?)

I mean, hey. It’s no Nebraska Bicentennial plate…


…which seemed to be on the back of my mom’s Buick station wagon with the simulated wood grain paneling for about 15 years. (“Mehhhh, slap a covered wagon and an Indian on there, and maybe some bunting, and we’re good!“)

Though it is certainly preferable to the Nebraska Centennial plate from 1966…


…which has a confusing panhandle outline and could possibly be confused for Kansas.

And then one L.St. follower wanted to point out the Sesquicentennial “logo” — that’s apparently being thrown into everything — has a modern flair to it…

SAB - Sesqui - Trump 02

Hey look, it is difficult to NOT be criticised for the plate choice. Remember when Nebraska almost got tricked into the Plain Label Beer Can plate a few years back?


Somehow it would be nice if Nebraska could figure out a classic version to stick with — a la Colorado or Texas.

Until then, enjoy the maroon plates with the Lego corn-horn thing. It will only be on the back of your mom’s station wagon mini-van for another 14 years or so.


After noting a few Nebraska supporters of Presidential candidates, Leavenworth St. sent out a Legislature-wide survey to all the State Senators to find out if they’d chosen a candidate.

We already know a few — Beau McCoy is on team Jeb Bush and Mike Groene is a Scott Walker man. But emails have gone out to the rest of the Unicameral members to see where they stand. (Assuming, ahem, they have an email address.)

The responses are still flowing in (and a big thank-you to all the Senators who have already responded). Their responses will be posted here on Monday (or possibly Tuesday), and you can get a feel for who stands with whom.

Nebraska legislature members clearly do not have candidates leaning on them like someplace like, say, Iowa. But it is interesting to see where they come down on a national issue that everyone is following.


Speaking of the candidates — and since there is already a Trump reference above — I listened to The Donald on the Hugh Hewitt show from yesterday. (You can hear, or read the transcript, it by following this link.) Trump has been a guest on Hewitt’s show a number of times, and Hewitt’s show has been the radio clearinghouse for all of the GOP candidates.

Hewitt, by the way, will be the moderator of the next debate at the Reagan Library.

And with that, it is interesting to hear his style. He is a clear supporter of Ted Cruz, and also has been pushing Carly Fiorina, to a certain extent.

He pretty much hammered Ben Carson — and his interview with Carson has been referred to a number of times as the standard, “Carson doesn’t know the international world very well.

How’d that happen? Well, Hewitt started his interview with Carson by saying, “I don’t believe in ‘Gotcha’ questions…” and then proceeded to ask a number of Gotcha questions. He essentially administered a Political History pop-quiz to Carson, who arguably scored a low “C” at best (by some observers, anyway).

When Trump came on the show yesterday, Hewitt did much of the same thing. He declared that he didn’t like Gotcha Questions, then dove in with them.

The fact that Hewitt does this is…annoying. It is a “Let me show you how smart I am“, in much of an Alex Trebek sort of way — when Trebek scowls and informs the Jeopardy player with the “correct” answer…which he has on his card in front of him.

To be fair to Hewitt, he is a fairly brilliant guy, and he DOES likely know the answers to the questions he is asking. But when speaking with Carson and Trump, he knows in advance that they aren’t going to be able to fact-drop about the Nuclear Triad or the Quds or the name of an Iranian General.

Hewitt’s goal is to make then look bad, and then later note that Ted Cruz can answer all of those questions.

Now some will quibble that Trump stumbled in Hewitt’s questioning, confusing a question about the Quds with one about the Kurds (whom Trump seemed sort of prepared for). But otherwise Trump — to his credit I think — refused to play Hewitt’s game. He called them Gotcha Questions, and refused to answer anything about them.

I think it’s fair to argue that Trump should have a better position, in general, about the various groups in the Middle East. But I don’t really see any reason for him to have a CIA Station Chief knowledge of names and places. As he noted, that’s what advisors are for.

And Hewitt’s question about, “What would you do if China sank a Japanese or South Korean ship????” was frankly bush-league.

It reminded me of the Dan Quayle, “What would you do if the President died tomorrow?” questions back in 1988.

Quayle should have/could have followed up with, “What’s the scenario? A long illness? An assassination? A terrorist attack? A heart attack? Where was he?” etc., etc. All stuff very relevant to an overly broad question.

But Trump did Hewitt one better. He refused to answer saying “You don’t want to let people know what you’re going to do with respect to certain things that happen. You don’t want the other side to know.

Now that doesn’t make Hewitt a “third class radio announcer” as Trump is now (of course) telling everyone. But hopefully it will make Hewitt think a little bit about what it is he really hopes to get out of the candidates — and whether it helps people make the choice about who should be President.

Then again, maybe how they handle a poor question is as beneficial as how they answer a good question.

By the way, don’t worry. I’m not a Trump-guy. But I do find it fascinating how he is showing his mastery of jiu jitsu with the press.

(And once again, Trump dominates the Republican news cycle…)

Thursday never looking back

Let’s start things off with a little Separated at Birth from the Unicameral, via Nashville…

Sullivan - McEntire - SAB 02

State Senator Kate Sullivan and Reba McEntire!

(OK, maybe it’s just the hair. But still…)


As the Presidential debate rollicks along — particularly in Iowa — it is always fun to see who-is-supporting-who in Nebraska.

Governor Pete Ricketts is asked often who he favors, and he has continued to be coy, only saying he favors a Governor. Anyone who knows him, of course, knows that his father, Joe Ricketts, is a major Scott Walker donor and his brother Todd is a finance Chair of Walker’s camp.

Probably pretty safe to say that the Gov is a Walker guy.

(And State Senator Mike Groene announced in my podcast interview on The Wheels Down Politics Show that he is a Walker-guy as well. To hear why, and to hear his Veep preference…listen to the dang show!)

Who else?

Senator Ben Sasse is thought to likely side with one of his Senate colleagues. Marco Rubio is a young up and comer in The Club, hyper-smart and speaks at a frenetic pace — sort of like Nebraska’s Jr. Senator.

Rubio has Carlos Castillo as his Nebraska guy, and a few others are supporters, including Nebraska political consultant Jordan McGrain and DCRP counsel Garth Glissman.

Then again, Ted Cruz visited Nebraska on Sasse’s behalf back in his campaign. And Cruz and is on the strong conservative wing of the party, that Sasse seems attached to as well.


Nebraska’s Sr. Senator, Deb Fischer, has been pretty noncommittal lately, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see her stay out of the primary all together. Though maybe she’s just waiting to pounce.

Hal Daub will be heading Jeb Bush’s Nebraska steering committee, which will also include State Senator Beau McCoy.

Carly Fiorina’s camp has backers in the state, probably branching over to Iowa as well.

Ben Carson bumper stickers can be seen in the area and there were Husker shirts worn over at the last Carson rally in CB.

So how about the current leader in the polls, Trump?

Does he have an organizing group? Can he? Would he bother?
And are Trump supporters in Nebraska the type who would go over to Iowa to help campaign, like say, a Hillary supporter might be?

What say you???


FWIW, the latest Trump – Bush dustup over speaking Spanish was another interesting tact.

Bush was speaking Spanish in a school, and took a pot-shot at Trump. Trump returned fire by suggesting Bush speak English, to set an example.

It’s interesting. On the one hand, Bush is seeking Latino supporters, and wants to show his fluency.

On the other, Trump is right in the macro view, that non-English speakers have a much, much, much, much, much, much better chance at succeeding in America if they learn and speak English. Bush would probably agree with that, and he’s trying to have it both ways, while appealing to Latino voters.

But give it to Trump for deftly shifting the conversation to another, similar topic, while Bush is trying to show his bi-lingual advantage.

Trump may not win, has shown that he’s not likely a “true” conservative, and if he goes third-party, could hand the election to the Democrats.


You do have to note that he is adept at turning questions to his favor and that he changes direction like a young Eric Crouch running 95 yards against Missouri, leaving opponents’ jock straps all over the field. (Sorry for the visual.)

Some day it will be a fascinating study to compile the way he has answered questions and shifted discussions.

Quite often it seems his opponents are playing checkers while he is playing jai alai.


Listen, I know what you Democrats are going to say about the Kentucky County Clerk who refused to issue the same-sex marriage license.

You’re going to say “I’m not surprised,” and “Of course this was going to happen when one of ‘those types’ gets put in charge.”

Yes, that’s right, I know…

…ANOTHER Democrat office holder sent to jail.

(nyuk, nyuk, nyuk…)

Piñata Trump es bueno!

If this had been called
If this had been called “Trump Tower”, no problemo…

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln will hang an effigy of Donald Trump, that you can hit with a stick, at their next meeting.

And once they have ruptured it, candy may fall out.

And apparently everyone is pretty cool with that.

Now…let’s say the Society of Swedish Medical Professionals at the same school, decided to batter a piñata of President Obama, to protest their job threats to ObamaCare.

Does anyone think that this wouldn’t be called racist, shunned by the University, possibly have some action taken against the group and publicized nationally, or at least by the Huffington Post?

And don’t even begin to suggest that thwacking a Hillary effigy wouldn’t put you on double-secret probation.

Of course you can’t blame the SHPE for thinking what they’re doing is cool.

Take this quote from the OWH :

“It has become a hot trend in Mexico and stateside to incorporate a Trump piñata into celebrations since he began speaking out against illegal immigration, advocating for a border wall and calling Mexicans rapists.

I’m not anxious to defend Donald Trump, but Trump was talking specifically about illegal immigrants committing crimes. But no matter, because that wouldn’t help the story they want to tell.

But hey, I’m just happy about all of the racial healing we have been having over the past six and a half years, just like we were promised.


Staying in Lincoln, Nancy Hicks of the LJS has gone to the Don Walton School of Journalism, where she hammers the point that the Lincoln City Council is NON-PARTISAN!

NON! No parties! We don’t like parties, partisanship is bad, and decisions made based on what party you are is bad!

For instance…

The LJS’s Hicks notes that DEMOCRAT Carl Eskridge does NOT like partisanship!!!

His vote was a gentle slam against partisan decision-making, a reminder that votes that show who has the majority is a thoughtless way to do business.

The council is elected on a nonpartisan basis. And Eskridge — a principled man who believes council decisions should be based on thoughtful discussion and consideration — would be naturally offended by a purely partisan decision.

Eskridge said he did not want to see headlines Tuesday saying the council voted along partisan lines. And his vote was, in part, a way to stymie that.

(Emphasis mine.)

OK, we got that?
Party-talk and decisions by partisans = BAD.

Oh, and it’s also so good to know that Eskridge is “principled man” who is thoughtful and considerate.

(Yes, newspaper reporter actually wrote that.)

Because no way would one who is principled, thoughtful and considerate, hammer through partisan votes with his fellow Democrats on the Council to support the partisan Democrat Mayor.

Gosh, remember how un-partisan it was when it was a Democrat majority with the Democrat Mayor and everything just passed along smoothly when the Democrats were unchallenged?

Yeah that was awesome.

Now, back to Hicks’ column…er story.

The intent of two Democrat-sponsored budget amendments, beyond creating confusion, was to eliminate the Christensen cuts while offering a carrot to Republicans.

The amendments offered more money for streets or more for the police and fire defined-benefit pension plan; but the Republicans had to give up the Christensen cuts to do that.

Those amendments, supported by the three Democrats, did not pass.

(Emphasis by me.)

I thought it was all non-partisan?

Oh, so confused.
Well, at least the headlines don’t say “partisan”, because there’s nothing worse than that.


Bummer for Jon Schuetz.

For almost a whole day he was the new announcer at Husker games.

Then with one social media post, it all goes down the crapper.

If you didn’t see it, after Bopelini (which is excellent with a red sauce and some shaved parmesan) was fired, Schuetz posted on The Facebook:

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 10.10.17 AM

Now you have to admit, that’s sort of “up there” with reason for not getting the job. Pretty much a straight attack on the University President, capped off with the word “disgrace”.

But…he had deleted the post (when, not sure). That’s gotta mean something, right?
And was it the extent of the statement, or can there be any dissent in the University of Nebraska ranks?

If you’re not a 100% Homer, you’re out, right? As I noted on The Twitter, “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.

And my guess is that was probably it. Though, if I had to guess…

…I wouldn’t be surprised if Schuetz’s outspoken political posts on his FB page didn’t help. He hammers President Obama, posts glowing stuff about Ted Cruz and questions Global Warming…er Climate Change.

Don’t know where he comes down on the Keystone XL Pipeline…


Well, Jon, we hardly knew ye!


Hey, if you didn’t get the chance, be sure to listen to my (short!) podcast with State Senator Mike Groene on The Wheels Down Politics Show!

Groene talks about his volunteer efforts to put the Death Penalty repeal on the ballot, after he was noted as one of the heroes of the entire shabang.

He gets into some of his strategy with getting signatures and where he went ,and how. He also talks about founding a couple conservative groups in Nebraska, including the Platte Institute.

And you can find out who he is supporting for President — and Vice President.

A very interesting podcast, and probably not the last we’ve heard from Senator Groene.

Hear this and ALL of our podcasts at WheelsDownPolitics.com.

The Wheels Down Politics Show – State Sen. Mike Groene

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

552d880130960.imageJerry Kratochvil interviews Nebraska State Senator Mike Groene (LD42).

Jerry and Senator Groene discuss his involvement with the signature petition process to stop the Death Penalty repeal. They talk about Groene’s background and experience in past signature petitions and how he came to be involved in politics at the state level.

Then they get into some of the nitty-gritty of the petition process, his strategy for where to find signers, and how he worked with fellow volunteers in collecting signatures in western Nebraska.

They then discuss Groene’s involvement and founding of the Western Nebraska Taxpayers Association as well as starting the Platte Institute with Pete Ricketts and others. Groene discusses his thoughts on the tax system in Nebraska, what he can work with and where he takes his stands.

They conclude by talking about Groene’s priorities for the coming legislative session, as well as who he is supporting for President (and Vice President!) of the United States, and why.

On the web: State Senator Mike Groene


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

The Monday tease

To start your week, here is a quick SAB for your consideration…

Dirk-Driver-SAB 02

New 25-year-old GOP candidate for the Nebraska 2nd District Congressional seat, Dirk Arneson and Star Wars, The Force Awakens, new bad guy, Adam Driver!


Because it is not the desire of this website to mimic the local papers that bury their corrections on page 16-B, at the bottom, Leavenworth St. would like to clarify something from a post last week.

Apparently there was some confusion about the activities of State Senator Mike Groene as he gathered signature petitions for the Death Penalty repeal vote.

Senator Groene wanted to specifically note that he did NOT gather signatures “going after” State Senators Laura Ebke or Mark Kolterman. The way it was phrased, there was some confusion, and that was not the way it was meant.

Senator Groene also wanted to make it clear that he was up front with any other Senators who live in his area and voted for the Death Penalty repeal, if he was collecting signatures in their districts. He did not however, go to neighboring Senator Matt Williams’ hometown and collect sigs, “targeting” him.

What DID he do?

Wellllll, you will have to listen to my podcast interview with State Senator Groene on The Wheels Down Politics Show!

We talk about the signature petition process, how he collected his sigs, his experience doing it, and his feelings on the Death Penalty itself.

We also talk about his background and how he got involved in politics. And a little about the groups he started, the Western Nebraska Taxpayers Association and the Platte Institute.

And straight talker Groene also tells, straight up, who he supports for President and why.

Come here tomorrow to hear the pod!


And as far as bringing up topics to cover, the LJS — and particularly Don Walton in his Monday column — is the Giving Tree that keeps on giving.

Especially if you’re a “progressive”.

Today, The Don noted

Under Nebraska’s state constitution, voters have a right to overrule the Legislature even though that may run counter to the concept of representative government.

Well now.

On the one hand he is correct that for say, Congress, this doesn’t happen.
But then again, it’s not part of the U.S. Constitution.
There ARE other methods for individuals in states to take things into their own hands. (Colorado, for one, is showing that.)

But this “counter” concept of democracy IS part of Nebraska’s state constitution.
And has been for a while now.
So not sure why Don is waving the red light to put on the brakes.

Oh, wait. We are sure.

Because did anyone read something like this from Don on, say, the Minimum Wage vote?

It was all about “the second house” and such, yeah?

But now, on the Death Penalty repeal it’s, “Well, maybe Nebraskans will come to their senses! Like the legislature did! We Nebraskans don’t rush into things!”

Interesting how Don quotes two other petitions that DIDN’T pass — as opposed to ones that did.

But he’s just an impartial viewer folks!


Speaking of the Nebraska 2nd District race, today Bellevue Mayor Rita Sanders endorsed Don Bacon for Congress.

While Sanders isn’t in the 2nd anymore (well, not sure about her house, but the City Hall anyway) she has first-hand knowledge of Offutt, where Bacon spent many years.

And if Bacon doesn’t ultimately succeed in this bid, it would seem he could become the Supreme Leader of Sarpy County, with the endorsements he is racking up there.


Check back here tomorrow morning for The Wheels Down Politics Show podcast!

Promises for the LJS

Sometimes people ask how I come up with things to write on the blog. My response, and the response of many political writers is, “I read the papers, and what angers me most is what I write about.”

I thought about that when I saw this Lincoln Journal-Star article currently FEATURED on their web page:

LJS story - Schulte 01


What’s the story?

Well, Lincoln Public Schools Board member Matt Schulte is not going to send his Kindergartner and 2nd grader to Lincoln Public Schools.

And the REASON for the top-of-the-headline, 689-word story?

When asked during the campaign if he’d send his kids to Lincoln Public Schools, he said yes. But now? He has changed his mind about where he will send his 5 and 7 year olds to school.

That’s the sum of this TOP story, on the LJS.

Now keep in mind, Schulte was asked during the campaign about this. He didn’t run on it. And he didn’t make it the focus of his race.

He and his wife made this most-important decision about THEIR TWO LITTLE KIDS. Not about ANYONE ELSE’S KIDS.

Now it’s not as if — OH I DON’T KNOW — he changed his mind on whether he was going to raise the Gas Tax for all Nebraskans!

Or — OH I DON’T KNOW — he changed his mind about how he was going to vote on abolishing the Death Penalty.


But you know who THIS decision affects?
Schulte, his wife, and his two little kids!

(Gee, ya think I’m a little wound up about this?)

THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is the kind of CRAP that keeps people from running for office.
THIS is the GARBAGE kicked out by the “news” papers that make perfectly reasonable people figure, “why the hell would I want to get involved with that?”

But make no mistake peeps: This was an attack.


Wellllllll, for starters, Schulte and his wife are a pair of those “outliers” who have chosen to home-school their kids.

I don’t know why they made that decision. I don’t know about the value of that decision. It’s none of my business. And I don’t care.

Oh, but shouldn’t it matter to the voters if he is part of the school system he votes on???
Well, here’s some news: People have to make decisions all the time about where to send their kids. If your vote is going to be based on how a family deals with their personal life, I’d suggest you find some new criteria. Because they are going to make personal decisions — which may change — based upon their family, and not what voters think.

Can there be value of having your kids in the public school system, particularly as a Board Member? Maybe. But there are good reasons for Board members NOT having their kids there. I can think of many.

But beyond that, there is more to the idea that the LJS is trying to convey that Schulte somehow lied to his constituents. Because what sort of animal would change his mind about the best thing for his kids after he told some reporter another thing? My gawd, the deceit is practically Nixonian!!!

Oh, but then there’s this little matter:
In a recent LPS Board vote regarding the budget, there was a proposal to put $10 million into a “cash reserve”.

Schulte maintained that there was no need to put that much into cash reserve — that they could lower that amount in cash reserve and return some money to the tax payers.

Oh, and LIBA and AFP made a big push to collect signatures and encourage people to send emails to the school board about lowering the tax levy and the amount into reserve.

In the end, Schulte was the lone member to vote for the idea of a lower amount.

And then, all of a sudden, the Lincoln Journal-Star puts the focus on just what sort of home-schooling, non-public-education-using, lower cash-reserve-wanting monster Schulte really is.

See, right in the freaking middle of an article about the PROMISE Schulte made to the PEOPLE OF LINCOLN where he would send HIS OWN KIDS…

As the lone vote against the district’s proposed budget, Schulte aligned himself with fiscally conservative groups including the Lincoln Independent Business Association and Americans for Prosperity. Both groups wanted LPS to lower its tax rate in light of an 8.9 percent increase in revenue.

Wait. What does that have to do with where his 5 and 7 year old are educated?
Abso-fricken-lutely nothing.

But there you go readers.

This is your press.
This what they do.
And this crap never stops.

What say you?


Hey on this Carl Curtis Open-Comment Friday here are a few more political fragments out there…


Aaron Trost, general consultant to the Don Bacon for Congress campaign — featured on The Wheels Down Politics Show just a few weeks back — will be the State Director for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s Presidential campaign in Iowa.

Trost, you may remember, managed U.S. Senator Deb Fischer’s primary campaign win over Jon Bruning and Don Stenberg, and general election win over Bob Kerrey. He also managed Attorny General Doug Peterson’s campaign last year. He hooked up with the Bacon camp this year for the Nebraska 2nd Congressional District race.

Huckabee has made a major focus on Iowa and is currently generally polling in the middle of the pack in that state.


And just to keep things snappy, Leavenworth St. received an email late last night about a NEW candidate in the #NE02 GOP race.

He is 25 year-old Dirk Arneson.

Dirk describes himself as “an everyday American with a full-time job living paycheck to paycheck to make a better life for my family.”

He says…

We need to stand United and become the United States of America Again. We Need to stand up and say Washington You are FIRED. We need to come together as working class Americans living in District 2 and end the rich get richer policies in Washington.

You can (maybe) learn more about him by going to Dirk Arneson for Congress on Facebook.

Inside the signature collecting process

IMG_0938 (1)The signature petition process to get reinstatement the Death Penalty on the November 2016 ballot has ended.

It is nearly certain that with 166K signatures boxed, they will meet the approximately 59,000 signature threshold.

Then there was the issue of getting repeal itself put on hold. That takes around 114,000 signatures, with meeting that 10% threshold in 38 of the 93 counties. They not only met that number, AND hit the 15% mark above that — which many see as the point needed to reach to go over the “bad signature” mark — they topped that amount by another 55,000.

When you are involved in this type of endeavor, you see trends. Things are different in the urban areas than rural areas. Different between big and small towns. Different at different events.

So here is some info gleaned from folks involved within the signature petition process.


They had great success in Madison, Norfolk, Columbus and Stanton.
The were generally 300-400% over the 10% goal in those areas. You will remember that the deadly 2002 bank robbery took place in Norfolk, and folks in that area have long memories.

They also did well in Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney.
Dodge and Washington counties were also very good.

In general, the signature-getters found that county fairs were very productive. (For instance, this was especially so in the Scottsbluff area.)

Areas outside the two metros of Omaha and Lincoln had more events during that period which brought in signers.

However, in the metros, they didn’t have that advantage during the time period. No Creighton basketball games. No Husker football games. No Septemberfest.

In the end, the organizers decided to concentrate on area where they knew they could capitalize on collecting signatures, and capitalize, they did.


So because of that…

Douglas and Lancaster Counties were not overarching in reaching their 10% numbers. Both may ultimately meet the 10%, but it will be seen if they end up with that, after any knock-outs. Sarpy reached as well, and will likely stay at the 10%, but that could be close.

But, meeting 10% in the largest counties is also tougher than some others, when you can’t count on a large turnout at something like a county fair.

Because of that, the collectors didn’t concentrate on Douglas and Lancaster. They went where there were better concentrations for signatures, and events where they could get more signatures.

In the end, to reach the 10% goal, they needed 10% in 38 counties.
They got that in 70 of the 93.


And the more anecdotal stuff…

Many give a lot of credit to state Senator Mike Groene. They note that he made it a personal mission to not only collect signatures, but to look at WHERE he was collecting them.*

So he and other volunteers (on their own volition — NOT at the direction of Nebraskans for the Death Penalty) went specifically to counties where Senators who voted for repeal lived. They wanted to show that the vote of Senators who voted for the Death Penalty repeal wasn’t necessarily representative of the feelings of their constituents.

State Senators Matt Williams, Mark Kolterman and Laura Ebke, they are looking your way.

*[UPDATE: Since this original post went up, I spoke with Senator Groene, who wanted to make it clear be clear about his process of collecting signatures. He stated that he did NOT go to Senator Kolterman or Ebke’s districts soliciting signatures, as might be interpreted from the statement above. He stated that to the extent that he got signatures from Senator William’s constituents or in his district, it was part of the process of getting the maximum from the county, as opposed to “targeting” a certain Senator. Which isn’t to say he didn’t want to get signatures from the districts next door. But Leavenworth St. has heard from other volunteers making a specific effort in other districts.]

Signature seekers found a lot of anecdotal evidence that their constituents are NOT happy with their votes. (The folks in the Crete area, particularly peeved with some of the non-responsiveness.)


What will happen next will be fascinating.

Stopping the Death Penalty in big red Nebraska was seen as a major turning point for the anti-Death Penalty movement. Stories were written about it worldwide.

To see it get a 180 slam from the actual people of Nebraska — as opposed to convincing 30 state Senators — would be a crushing defeat to the Anti folks.


Do not count on them going quietly into that Good Night.
Do not count on them taking a defeat lightly.
Do not count on them bringing bean-bags to this political fight.

If they lose the Presidential vote, but win the Death Penalty vote, they would gladly take that trade.

Gird yourself for the ensuing fight accordingly.

Signature effort concludes, Campaign gears up

Sig PetNebraskans for the Death Penalty will be submitting their signature petitions to the Secretary of State at 3pm today, and will hold a press conference along with it.

Leavenworth St. will update here as the news goes up.

**UPDATE at 3pm**

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 3.01.03 PMSignature Petition signers get over 160,000 signatures.

Needed about 114,000 to stop the Death Penalty repeal from going into effect.


@NE4DeathPenalty has said that they (likely) have the 57,000 signatures to get the issue on the ballot in November 2016, but have been mum about whether or not they will be able to put the new law repealing the Death Penalty on hold. That would take about 114,000 signature.

As we have noted before, the CW is that you need/should have around 15% more signatures than you need, to insure against contested sigs, etc. The computers tell us that number puts the “desired” tally around 131,000. OWH reporters are Tweetering that @NE4DeathPenalty peeps are getting an additional 1,000 signatures TODAY, to bolster their position.

Considering those numbers, efforts, and press conferences, it would seem likely that they will be over the 114,000 mark. The question is just “by how much?”

There has been some info that says they are up to at least 150,000 and that they have validated, on their own, more than 120,000 — seeing validation amounts around 75%.

We won’t be surprised to see them hit that number, or even better.


All of this says they have put out the very difficult, and expensive, effort to get where they need to be on this.

And of course this is only Step 1.

Paul Hammel of the OWH was Tweeting that the five to six weeks it will take to verify signatures could mean LEGAL questions could pop-up about the Death Penalty in the mean time.

Back in the Law School days, the prof would point out that the issue of Ripeness arises first. In other words, if there ain’t a REAL issue before then, no one will pay attention to an imagined question. The Governor and AG would have to a) Get the drugs required and then b) Press forward to put someone to death before the signatures are counted.

Which won’t happen.


But the Death Penalty questions will get more heated as the campaign rolls along. The OWH recently gave two opposing views in their Opinion Section a whirl. The first, J. Kirk Brown — he of the recent dustup regarding the Heineman admin pursuing the Death Penalty — gave the Pro stance. Retired Judge Ron Reaganinterviewed on The Wheels Down Politics Show a few weeks back — gave the Anti stance.

Interestingly, Brown gave essentially the same opinion as Jonah Goldberg gave when I spoke to him on The Wheels Down Politics Show. That is, the questions of cost, and deterrence, and sentencing advantages and fairness, are all side questions to the main one regarding the Death Sentence: Do some people deserve the ultimate penalty for certain crimes?

Brown endeavors to answer that question.

Judge Reagan, on the other hand posits that the main reason for sentences are to deter crimes. Reagan literally chuckled on my show at the idea that the Death Sentence is a mere “punishment”. But as Brown, Goldberg and others have pointed out, if deterrence is REALLY your goal, you can come up with much better deterrents than jail or even death. Heck, go to the middle east where theft can cause you to lose your hands. Or maybe Malaysia where littering can get you a caning. Those are probably pretty effective.

Now you can certainly disagree that death is an appropriate punishment for certain crimes. (And there is also a decent argument that there should even be a higher standard than “beyond reasonable doubt”.)

But the punishment question is really the ultimate question in the Death Penalty debate, that must be answered before all others. All the rest are side questions.

Announcements & Endorsements

Mike & Heather Hilgers and their daugthers, Alice (4) and Elsie (1).
Mike & Heather Hilgers and their daughters, Alice (4) and Elsie (1).

Mike Hilgers, who came in third in the Attorney General GOP primary in 2014, and lost a squeaker in the Nebraska Legislature in 2012, has announced that he will run again for the Unicameral in Northwest Lincoln’s LD 21.

Hilgers lost to incumbent Democrat Ken Haar in 2012 by 85 votes, in what was then the most expensive legislative race in Nebraska history. He then drew 23% of the vote to Doug Peterson’s 35% and Brian Buescher’s 25% in the AG GOP nomination race in 2014. (Peterson went on to roll in the General.)

In his campaign announcement, Hilgers said,

“Our campaign will focus on reforming government to reduce spending and lower taxes, ensuring a quality education for every child, ensuring that the young people we educate stay in Nebraska, and building the environment for innovators and entrepreneurs to grow our economy.”

Hilgers is the co-founder of the Gober Hilgers law firm, which has offices in Lincoln, Omaha, Dallas and Austin and specializes in complex intellectual property fights.


General Don Bacon, candidate for the GOP nomination for the 2nd District Congressional seat, announced today the endorsement from Douglas Kindig, Mayor of La Vista. (Did you know…La Vista is the 12th largest city in Nebraska, just behind Papillion and Columbus and ahead of Scottsbluff and South Sioux City….)

Bacon has also been endorsed by Mayor of aforementioned Papillion, the former Mayor of Gretna and former Governor Kay Orr, among others.

Bacon has locked down a number of these officials early, and that has to be part of keeping the current GOP primary field very, very slim.

Of course another name could always come through, and still gather a slew of endorsements. But the calendar pages keep turning in favor of the Bacon campaign for the nomination.


The National Journal today has a story about U.S. Governors “sitting out” the Presidential primary season thus far, as far as endorsements go.

Nebraska political consultant, and featured guest on The Wheels Down Politics Show, Jordan McGrain is quoted regarding Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts sitting on his hands thus far — despite the heavy involvement by his family in the Scott Walker campaign:

“I would be shocked if it were anybody other than Governor Walker” who gets Ricketts’s support, said Jordan McGrain, a former executive director of the Nebraska GOP who worked for Ricketts’s opponent in the 2014 primary. “Internally here we all pretty much assume it’s going to be Scott Walker, but I would guess they’re withholding it for strategic purposes and trying to get a little bit closer to when people actually go vote in Iowa.”

NJ notes that Governor Rickett’s father is the top donor to the Walker campaign and his brother Todd is Walker’s national finance chair.

And unnamed GOP source tells NJ that Ricketts has said that he’s a “Walker guy” and, “at some point I think (Ricketts will) lead a lot of Nebraskans to Walker.”


Nebraska’s 3rd District Congressman Adrian Smith announced today that he will vote against the Iran Nuclear deal.

Smith said,

“Nebraskans continue to express their deep concerns to me about the deal the Obama administration has negotiated with Iran. I am opposed to the Iran deal and have cosponsored the congressional resolution of disapproval. Lifting sanctions would allow monetary resources to flow into Iran and empower its leaders to do more harm to the United States and our allies. We should be mindful of our closest ally in the region, Israel, whose leaders continue to gravely warn us of the dangers of trusting the Iranian regime.

“When our national security is on the line, reaching no deal is better than advancing a bad deal. President Obama has stated our options are either accepting this deal or going to war, but this rhetoric is irresponsible. Congress needs to reject this deal and allow U.S. negotiators to go back to the table. We must pursue a stronger agreement which enforces greater accountability measures on Iran and prioritizes the safety of our country and our allies.”


Hey, in the Wheels Down Politics network today, you can hear my interview with Rep. David Young of Southwest Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District — which runs from Des Moines to Council Bluffs. I talk to him about his plans for voting on the Iran Nuclear deal, some of the issues in the upcoming Congressional session and walking around his state with so many Presidential candidates.

You can hear his interview, and all of the podcasts for The Wheels Down Politics Show at WheelsDownPolitics.com.

…If Monday’s black…

On this busy day, we start with a Separated at Birth sent in by a loyal reader:

State Senator, Dr. Bob Hilkemann (LD4 – Omaha) and eHarmony’s Neil Clark Warren!

Hilkemann - Warren - SAB 02


And otherwise, we will open up the comments section!

The Stock Market — buy low, right?
Trump — Flat Tax? Or is that “The Rich” pay more? Hmm.
Walker — Whither Anchor Babies?
The Iowa State Corn Kernel Poll results — Trump, Carson, Fiorina. Still better than an online poll?
Libraries — More visitors: OPL or Virtual?


This week’s market?
Tuesday, Wednesday heart attack
Thursday never looking back
It’s Friday I’m in love.