If you’re reading this, and you didn’t watch the 2nd Governor’s debate, you owe Leavenworth Street. You owe big time. Because, that’s one hour and twenty-nine minutes that will never be returned. It was brutal. It was painful. It was boring. And we’re talking old-school boring. We’re talking about not-a-single-joke boring. We’re talking about not-a-single-pop-culture-reference boring. We’re talking about not-a-single-zinger boring. Three red ties. Three burgundy chairs. Three hours of dull government yakking. Ok, it just seemed like three hours. But still.
The winner: Tom Osborne.
He had detailed responses. Hs responses answered the questions that were asked. He brought his answers back to the common-man perspective quite often. Now don’t kid yourself: He still has that same excitement that was on display for every KFAB post-game show with Gary Saddlemeyer – in other words, none. But he pretty much nailed every question posed. Very solid job, and much better than the first debate where he provided few details.
2nd place: Tie between Nabity and Heineman.
Dave Nabity sounds great and looks great. His basic theme is good. But the rest of his schtick is starting to wear thin. He’s a common sense guy, and he wants to wring out government and fix it all back again and cut your taxes. Which is all fine in theory, and fine if you’re not running against two people with a fair amount of government experience who can answer questions in detail. But the only question which he came really prepped for was the water issue, and both Heinenman and Osborne knocked him down on it. His point is well taken (about driving away farming communities by paying farmers to not farm). But TO had a decent response, and posed some reality. And Nabity doesn’t offer a solution to the problem he posed. Other than to take a big look at it and DARNIT, fix it! And while we’re on the subject, Nabity! (as he referred to himself in the third person…twice) you really have no chance of winning. You’re running against an incumbent governor and the most popular guy in the state. Apparently you have plenty of cash to blow on this folly, but you really should come better prepared, just in case you want to run for another office again. Leave with a positive message, not just the doom and gloom about how this government stinks.
Dave Heineman, again, was waaaaay over prepared. He can answer a question like nobody’s business. But dangit if he doesn’t seem like he’s reading his answer from a teleprompter. I really think he has an ultra-mini one installed behind his corneas. And the sing-song quality his voice takes on during his memorized answers makes him sound like a shoo-in for the Moviefone guy job after the campaign is over. He started strong, but as time went on (and believe me, it WENT on) he lost any effect his answers may have had, and really began to blend into the scenery (if there had been any). And then there was the water question where he COMPLIMENTED Osborne! Come on Dave! Guess who your competition is? Playing nice positive guy is not going to do it here. Heck TO wasn’t above taking shots at you on the Medicaid issue (saying that DH had been doing too many studies and not enough action). The gloves have GOT to come off.
Loser: The Questioners! Yeesh. One question from Jane Monnich at KLIN was, “how would you foster economic development?” That’s your question? You’ve had days or weeks to prep, and that’s as good as you’ve got? Geez, at least get specific about SOMETHING. Make it a little interesting. Pleeeze! Other dude’s last question was, “If you could recreate local government from the ground up, how would you do it?” Because, THAT’s what the new Governor will do? Is this a civics class test? The only person who could ask a decent question was UNL student Jenna Johnson from the Daily Nebraskan. She had a great one about the proposed immigration law and a pretty good one about threats to the state (which Nabity decided to turn into an anti-state bureaucracy answer). Solid job by her. Probably will end up working somewhere out of Nebraska…
Short debate notes:
Candidates (meaning TO and Nabity(!)), your audience is watching on TV. Not the 300 students (who probably won’t even vote) in the Lied Center. Then again, no one was watching on TV either, so forget it.
Nabity’s plan for agri-tourism is to have hunters across the world come to Nebraska games, then go out hunting. Does this mean we’ll have to switch back from Field Turf to natural grass?
Nabity KILLED Heineman about DH’s tax plan only saving $40 per person per year. Heineman never countered this attack. DH should have responded in some way.
Osborne KILLED Heineman about DH’s budget increasing spending by 14%. Heineman never countered this attack. DH should have responded in some way.
Heineman set himself apart on the immigration issue (doesn’t think illegal aliens’ kids should get in-state tuition). This could be a good wedge issue for him. It’s easy to understand, and goes to the core for lots of voters. Wouldn’t be surprised if we see TV ads on this topic.
Heineman’s close is, “If you like the way things are going in Nebraska, vote for me.” I’m not sure if people do, but the question reminds me of Scott Frost standing up after the Tennessee game, and saying , “If you think Michigan could beat us, vote for them.”
And TO closed, with, “you’ve known me for 35 years, and you can trust me.” Ok Tom, let’s be clear here, ok? We’ve known you in government for five stinkin’ years, and let’s just stick to that. Those other 30 years, you were a football coach. You had a great run at the end. A bunch of those other years I recall that you couldn’t win the big one, regularly got ripped by Barry Switzer, couldn’t win a bowl game and were in charge of Lawrence Phillips and Jason Peter. So let’s stop acting like being football coach is somehow the great job prep for Governor. Except for the jock-sniffers; they love that stuff.
Folks, you may be on your own for the rest of these miserable debates. And by the way, for the next one, I want to see all the candidates in flannel shirts, sitting on hay bales. This is Nebraska, dangit! Show some pride!