Governor Dave Heineman’s campaign manager, Carlos Castillo, has accepted a gig as the head of the Nebraska Department of Administrative Services. Notwithstanding Democrat Grand Poobah Steve Achelpohl’s apparent required bitching about it, we congratulate Castillo for getting out of day-to-day politics and into a pretty good normal position. (Heineman elevates campaign manager – OWH – 12/13/06.)
So what does Castillo’s departure mean for the Nebraska political scene?
Well for one, the word was that Attorney General Jon Bruning was interested in having Castillo run his 2008 Senate Campaign. Now we don’t know whether Castillo was ever seriously interested in that position — particularly given the lack of love of Bruning by Heineman and Senator Chuck Hagel. But in any case he won’t be available now, and the cupboard is fairly bare of any available Republican full-time politicos who have run (successful) statewide Nebraska races.
We’re not sure what Mike Johanns’ and Tom Osborne’s former campaign manager Vicki Powell is up to these days – she was a Bruning “staffer” and thought to be heading up things for Bruning before she left for TO’s camp. Former Pete Ricketts manager Jessica Moenning has assured Leavenworth Street that she does not (yet) have any plans for 2008. And for what it’s worth, word is that Ricketts is dying to jump back in for 2008, for one office or another. Does the fact that both of those politicos ran disastrous campaigns mean they’re damaged goods?
Would Bruning then go out-of-state for someone to run his campaign? It’s not unheard of, and while Nebraska knowledge can be important, actual campaign experience is crucial as well. Jeff Fortenberry went out of state for his campaign manager. And of course there are always Nebraskans who want a chance to prove themselves on the larger stage as well, such as Dan Huber or Jamie Karl from Adrian Smith’s camp, Jordan McGrain who ran Omaha City Councilman Jim Vokal’s campaign and other legislature campaigns or even Sam Fischer who ran David Kramer’s U.S. Senate campaign.
But Bruning apparently has had some success in getting his ’08 Senate campaign rolling: word is that he has lured away Rep. Lee Terry’s fundraiser for a Bruning Omaha campaign office (though fundraisers are known to be a little more fungible in the campaign world.)
And for what it’s worth in the larger political universe, some of the national political watchers (in this case the National Journal Hotline guys) still aren’t willing to recognize that Hagel will have real opposition. And we continue to watch the dominoes fall…