The Future of Nebraska Politics?

The National Journal’s Hotline On Call has posted who it thinks are the future Nebraska political stars. It doesn’t mention its sources, but the list is all encompassing. More thoughts on this later. Here’s the meat of the article:

The stars we’ve been watching since ’03:

  • State Sen. Adrian Smith (R): One of those term-limited Sens, Smith is running for Osbourne’s NE 03 seat. He’s “tireless,” but others think he spends too much time expressing interested in higher office.
  • NE GOP chair Mark Quandahl (R): A former State Sen and “fascinating” person, he’s “a breath of fresh air” at the party.
  • State Sen. Pam Redfield (R): She’s “not terribly active” and has decided against seeking office when she’s forced out by term limits in ’06.
  • State Sen. Mike Foley (R): A candidate for State Auditor who is running, at the moment, unopposed. “In the Conservative movement, Mike is an up-and-comer” and “the one to watch” most closely on this list.
  • Omaha City Councilmember Dan Welch (R): “Has an interest in Congress” when Rep. Lee Terry (R) moves on from his NE 02 seat. After winning re-election in ’05, this “bright, brilliant” councilmember has people excited about his future. “Dan would make a great congressman.” “I would love to see Dan run for” NE 02.
  • Omaha City Council Pres. Jim Vokol (R): After winning re-election in ’05, Vokol has set his sights on a mayoral bid in ’07.
  • Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R): The first GOPer to carry the city of Lincoln, he has “a broad-based appeal statewide” should he choose to make a run in the future.
  • State Sen. Carol Hudkins (R): Term-limited out in ’06. Most question her presence our ’03 list.
  • NE Dem Exec. Dir. Barry Rubin: “Indescribably good” at a tough job. Could be a rising star on a nat’l level and may end up in DC.
  • Ex-NE Gov. candidate Stormy Dean (D): Back in the private sector at InfoUSA, still active in the party but has no plans to run for office in the immediate future.
  • NE Dem Sec. Kim Dean: Like her husband, Stormy, she’s back in private practice as well.
  • State Sen. Nancy Thompson (D): Term-limited in ’06, Thompson now spends her time working for the NE Boys and Girls Club and is “stepping away from politics”
  • State Sen. Matt Connealy (D): Term-limited in ’06, he “has aspirations to run for office in the future” and is considering future statewide bids. Remains a member of the State Dems Exec Cmte.
  • State Sen. Pat Bourne (D): Term-limited in ’06, he’s “one of our biggest rising stars.” “We certainly hope he has future aspirations.”
  • State Sen. Chris Beutler (D): Has expressed interest in future office and considered a Gov bid in ’06 before deciding against it. He’s “very sharp,” and has ambition.
  • Lincoln Mayor Coleen Seng (D): Hasn’t decided about an ’07 re-election bid after winning a surprise victory in ’03. Still, “very few people that see her going beyond where she is now.”
  • Businessman Jim Jenkins (D): A restauranteur who had considered an ’06 gov bid but decided against it, most “would not be surprised to see him go for it in the future.”

And the stars to watch in the future:

  • NE Board of Education member Bob Evnen (R): Appointed by Gov. Heineman, the Lincoln atty “potentially would be someone who might consider running for congress.” The Board of Education is “just a beginning” in his political career.
  • Lancaster Co. GOP Chair Mark Fahleson (R): Another Lincoln atty and former CoS to ex-Rep. Dan Christensen (R), he “would serve” NE “well, either in the legislature or even for higher office” should Fortenberry choose to move on.
  • State Sen. Mike Friend (R): From a political family, some call him “very impressive” and “an up and comer.” Others question whether he’ll have a future past the legislature. He could serve the state well on a down-ballot statewide position, some say, but “he’s were he’s meant to be,” according to others.
  • State Sen. Philip Erdman (R): Just 28 years old and serving his 2nd term, he’s “very ambitious.” Many were surprised he didn’t run for NE 03 when Osbourne moved on, but others suspect that he made a deal with Adrian Smith to wait, given that he’s just started a family. Everyone we talked to was excited for Erdman’s future.
  • New Digital Group CEO David Hahn (D): Making his first run at statewide office this year, Hahn is running for Gov, and while the race is uphill, “he’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
  • State Sen. Patrick Bourne (D): An Omaha atty, he’s a “smart, personable guy.” “He’s got a lot of future.”
  • Rancher Scott Kleeb: Running for Osbourne’s NE 03 seat, he’s a bull rider with a Ph.D. from Yale. “Strikes me as the kind of guy who could have a future if he wants one.” He’s got a chance in his current race, but “lightening would have to strike.”
  • State Sen. candidate Tom White (D): He “has a bright future in the party” and has impressed a number of people in his first bid for office. “Very smart, attractive, interesting guy.” “He’ll be a factor” in the legislature.

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