Nebraska Politician of the Year

We were recently informed that we at Leavenworth Street were named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year. We were only moderately surprised at this honor – even though we were totally deserving.

So in that same vein, this Thursday afternoon, 12/21/06 (before everyone leaves for vacations), we will be announcing the Leavenworth Street Nebraska Politician of the Year.

And from now until then, on this comment board or via direct email to us, YOU may send in nominations for that Nebraska Politician of the Year (anonymously, or otherwise).

A Politician may be described as “Anyone involved in Nebraska politics”.

Therefore it could be an office holder, a candidate, a campaign worker, a political party worker, a consultant, a member of the media – just about anyone you can think of involved in Nebraska politics.

That person should be judged on their influence making, news making, difference making, interesting-ness or any other thing that you would like to take into account.

Leavenworth Street will then laboriously sift through these suggestions, and any others we may come up with, to announce our Nebraska Politician of the Year.

Get your nominations in now.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Jon Bruning for his calculated endorsement of Tom Osborne for Governor. If successful, Osborne would have made Bruning the heir apparent for Governor in 2010. Unfortunately, the power-hungry Bruning will now have to set his sights elsewhere in 2008.

  2. Anonymous says:

    There is no fun in trying to influence a foregone conclusion. Dave Heineman is the most popular Nebraska governor in the past 30 years. However, in the same vein, we should be careful not to pay any accodlades to Tom Osborne’s political acumen. His was easily the worst run campaign of the year.

    A distant runner-up must go to the Scott Kleeb campaign. They took a rather drab, non-Nebraska pretty boy and made him a contender. Only problem is, Kleeb’s campaign staffers weren’t Nebraskans either! (Perhaps Adrian Smith should get the second place honor, since he garnered about 18,000 more votes than either Bill Barrett or Virginia Smith received in their open-seat races. Impressive.)

    As for the Jim Esch comment, who the hell is Jim Esch?

    -Ed Randolph

  3. nepolwatcher says:

    If the qualification for “Politician of the Year” is the most poorly run campaign – is there any contest? It would have to be Pete Ricketts- $12.5 million for 35% of the vote. Nothing else compares.
    But, I would submit that the title should actually go to Chuck Hagel. Why?
    1. He stiffed Tom Osborne and his guy won.
    2. He convinced Pete Ricketts to run
    3. he got Pete to pay Hagel’s staff people ungodly sums of money
    4. He got pete to put every ridiculous rumor, innuendo and baseless charge Hagel has ever wanted to make against Ben Nelson on TV
    5. He got himself in a 1200 point rotation ad with soft lighting in a presidential setting using the words “courage” and “character”
    6. and Got Pete and Joe Ricketts to pay for every dime of it.

    That, readers, is masterful and deserving of this recognition.

  4. Street Sweeper says:

    If we do a “Most Bitter Winner” category, YOU may just contest Hagel for that title.
    But, you know, keep bitching.

  5. Reagan Republican says:

    Nepol – unhealthy obsession is really the only thing that comes to mind here. You really have no grasp of the world outside your sphere of Nelson.

    The WORST campaign in 2006 was, without peer, Tom Osborne’s campaign for Governor. In fact, I’d put it up there with the worst campaigns in Nebraska history.

    Please please please Nepol…spare us the ridiculous spin and put some thought into your comments before your biased drivel hits the keyboard.

  6. Anonymous says:

    First choice: Pete Ricketts mom. Before the campaign season should have even started, she had Nebraska voters convinced of her sons spoiled wussiness.

    Second choice: Dave Phipps. He managed to not disenfranchise any voters or get called a Caucasian version of Uncle Tom. Heroic effort.

    Third Choice:

    Ben Nelson, for avoiding a kiss from the President at the state of the union. We see what that did for Liebermans joementum.

    Ben should try and sit in the middle of the gallery from now on, just to be safe. Maybe there is a literal fence he could sit on somewhere.

    Fire Millen.

    Happy Solstice days

    Veto the dog

  7. Anonymous says:

    1) Julie Haney for being the Leona Helmsley of Omaha politics. Keep on smokin, baby.
    2) Kathleen McCallister for showing Ms.Braun, oops, Haney, on how to lose gracefully.
    3)The Friend boys for being the GW,Jeb and Neil of Omaha politics.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Although I am not a fan of the man or embrace his politics, I believe a 2nd team or “honorable mention” award should go to State Sen. Ernie Chambers. In one fell swoop, with an amendment from the floor to LB 1026, he single handedly stuck it to OPS and the Omaha business community poobahs, i.e. Yanney, Sokol, Buffett, et al, while causing a torrent of lawsuits.

  9. Kyle Michaelis says:


    Since you long ago gave up your nonpartisan act, don’t you think you should take some sort of step to provide a little bit of legitimacy to your supposed proclamation.

    Otherwise, this is a bit of a sham bordering on total absurdity.

    Alas, our beloved Jessica Moenning just doesn’t seem to be getting any nominations. What does Hal Daub know that we don’t?

  10. OmaSteak says:

    Ben Nelson has to be #1. Corrupt cheapskate convinced NE voters to send him back to DC for another 6 years where he will make every effort to secure payoffs for his family and big contributors while screwing NE and US taxpayers.

  11. Street Sweeper says:

    Kyle, I thought you were going to quit blogging? Well Leavenworth Street is always open to soothe your shrill bitterness, especially during the holiday season. And as far as our “proclamation”, goes, you’ll note that partisans on either side are (correctly) nominating pols from both parties. You obviously forget that Hitler, Stalin and Khomeini all were TIME Man of the Year. And hey, everyone else has made a nomination here, where’s your’s?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Lee Terry. he is the senior member of the NE house delegation, spends every spare moment in NE and NOT in a mansion in DC, he didn’t throw bombs back when jimmy lied and lied, he has never lost his city council roots, he’s leading the delegation’s efforts to actually get our superfund site cleaned up (including passed legislation that has helped us secure funding for the lead clean-up), is a national leader of the push for renewable fuels and has been since before it was on the front pages, has taken on the executive branch to maintain funding for our local officers to fight the meth epidemic and won, manages to stay down to earth, actually said “thank you” to the voters, wears cowboy boots, has written an editorial with Stephen Colbert showing a witty sense of humor, and has won the voters trust through dedicated public service. i say Terry. he might not need take credit for everything he does (unlike a certain NE politicians), but he is committed to the people and does what is right for them.

  13. Kyle Michaelis says:


    Since you offered, I have to agree that either Dave Heineman or Carlos Castillo would be respectable choices under the vague definition of the title, as would the Benator himself. All did impressive work.

    For sheer magnitude of presence on the Nebraska political scene, though, Pete Ricketts should walk away with the award hands down. For starters, he was on TV as far back as Nov. 2005 and stayed there until Election Day. He spent the most money as a Nebraska candidate in history – more, in fact, than had previously been spent in an entire race of any kind. His loss suggests that there might still be something more to politics and good government than who has the most cash on hand and the deepest pockets.

    Ricketts was in every Nebraskans home night after night. That sort of presence and the alienation it inspired was definitely the most palpable force in 2006 in the streets and in the living rooms. And, though it takes two to tango, Ricketts will be long remembered (and blamed) for the negativity of the 2006 campaign. They didn’t gain Ricketts any admirers, but both his “Sing-Along Turkey Shoot” and “Safari Hunt” ads will be what people remember of this election year and of Ricketts (besides his landslide defeat).

    Finally, the degree to which Pete Ricketts (and his family) bankrolled the Nebraska Republican Party and its candidates was unprecedented in Nebraska politics. Looking at the outcome, one suspects/hopes it will remain an anomaly….and a warning to future candidates.

    Of course, as for the legitimacy of this whole venture, what accountability could possibly be expected from an anonymous writer taking anonymous nominations on & off-site? It’s easy to open the floor to discussion, but none of it means a lick when all power lies with who’s counting the ballots.

    Still, have fun with it. Your “proclamation” will speak for itself.

  14. Street Sweeper says:

    Kyle, so angry! Tsk, tsk…

    And the “legitimacy” of our “whole venture” seems to be based, in part, upon people enjoying it enough to take part.

    And if you’re confused about how this works, go ahead and consult the post, which explains it all for you.

    Now go get yourself a nice cup of eggnog.

  15. Anonymous says:

    How about the “Reagan Republican”. Just about every candidate claimed to be him. Just about every candidate quoted “his” philosophy. This would include dems, as well as r’s. As a matter of fact, he was the most talked about candidate of this past election season and like cyberspace persons being chosen “man of the year” by a magazine, “he” didn’t even exist.

    If not Reagan Republican, then how about Lee Terry. He never tried to convince the voters that he was someone he wasn’t. Lee Terry is the same person he’s always been, he just picks up the beer tab every once in a while now!

  16. Anonymous says:

    How about Ken Bird for being the only sensible voice in the entire Learning Community “Study Group”! If you want to nominate someone name someone that has one of the most difficult political positions, how about Bird. He is the voice of reason in a batch of hotheads with personal agendas.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Maybe we could go with Political-Goat of the year too…..this would be to the biggest buffoon or loser for the year.

    And I would have to nominate Kate Witek for this award. Seriously, has there ever been someone in the history of Nebraska politics to get beaten twice on 2 different statewide tickets in the same election cycle? Maybe Mort Sullivan I guess. But Kate Witek, you’re the winner here. Not only beaten twice, but beaten twice handily. In the primary, and in the general.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Kyle… and exactlt how much less the Ricketts did Nelson spend – oh, and please be sure to include the 3-4 million put in by the national democrat party, you know, just to be fair and all…

  19. Not Carlos, or Rod says:

    1. You have to give Carlos the nod over Governor Dave. Without Carlos, Dave Heineman would be presently known as “Outgoing Governor.” Without Dave Heineman, Carlos would still be ruling the Douglas County Election Commission with an iron fist and preparing to win a future unwinable race.

    2. Honorable mention should go to Jean Stothert for a “Grace in Defeat” Award. With that in mind…

    3. This year’s Rudy Rutiger Award should go to Rod Edwards. Keep at it Rod…you can’t possibly lose by less than 50 votes again.

  20. nepolwatcher says:

    Sweeper – I didn’t realize my post came across so bitchy. Maybe you were just so eager to attack me you read a little into it.

    and Reagan Republican – with a name like that you have the nerve to accuse me of unhealthy obsession? At least I dont get my rocks off praying to the alter of a dead actor. Now I normally dont attack other posters but if you want to take a run a t me for something I will respond in kind – dead man.

    I was just pointing out that the first few posts all were about bad campaigns – and thought if it was about bad campaigns there’s no question who ran the worst. If Tom OSborne had $12.5 million he would not havelost that election. But he ran a bad one as well – just not so excessive.

    My other point is: Hagel got Pete to do everything he asked and got him to pay for it. Its masterful and deserved of this fine recognition.

    But Carlos probably desreves it more – he ran a flawless campaign and has now burrowed into the state government. He desrves alot of credit.

    (was that unbitchy enoughfor ya? or do you just miss bulldog and are making up for him?)

  21. Street Sweeper says:

    Well, neLSONpolwatcher, I’m not sure you’re post was “bitchy”. More that you are still “bitching” about Pete Ricketts spending money and Chuck Hagel spending political capital to try to defeat your boss.

    We’ll just file this under the Festivus, “Airing of the Grievances”.

    Next I suppose is the “Feats of Strength”…

    (And that may just be a great subject for another post…)

  22. Reagan Republican says:

    Nepol – you still don’t get it. You’re so blinded by your hatred of all things not Nelson, and your obsession with his defeated opponent, Pete Ricketts. 10 out of 10 non-nelson obsessed political observers would say that Osborne ran the worst campaign. Here is a guy with 100% name ID, an 80% approval rating, and the all the goodwill in the world. He didn’t need $12.5 million – not with all that going for him. He took the wrong side on immigration (you should know about this, your boy Nelson is the biggest panderer and fear mongerer on immigration in the state) and enlisted a noted die-hard pro-choice democrat as his advisor (Warren Buffett). Osborne and his campaign blew what should have been a coronation trail.
    Now, Ricketts campaign was not good, I’ll give you that. but he’s up against Nelson who had an approval above 60%, took every GOP position (name one Democrat issue he took in the election year), raised and spent a TON of money and beat a political newcomer (I’ll use the word whipped, because Nellie did whip him). That said, Osborne was by far the worst campaigner of the year.

    As for my moniker, well, I think most Nebraskans and good conservatives consider him a hero, and wish for leadership like that again. So if you can’t pick dead people as your heroes, then I suppose that leaves you with Ted Kennedy? Or maybe Bob Byrd, Nellie’s new pork buddy on the Appropriations committee. You choose.

    Oh, and you’re still tiresome.

  23. ne"LSON"polwatcher says:

    Sweeper and RR –

    I dont see my posts as “bitching” so much as they are poking fun at the GOP superstars in NE. Chuck and Pete. Pete and Chuck. What I write here is certainly not “hatred” Maybe I’m not funny or maybe you guys might be too sensitive. start by cutting back on caffeine.

    As for Dem positions Nelson took: raising the minimum wage, stopping social security privatization and providing drought assistance to farmers. There are more…

    And, did I say anywhere that Osborne DIDN’T run a bad campaign? you all forget his self-imposed contributions limit, his anti-PAC stance also contributed to his demise. Sure, it was bad. And Carlos ran a flawless campaign on the other side. But TO would not have lost – even with the positions he took – if he had $12.5 million.

    I gotta hand it to both of you though.I remember the day when Ben Nelson was the “most vulnerable” Democrat in the land. He was the GOP’s “top target” and NE was supposed to be the firewall against a Democratic majority. Now, according to you two self proclaimed prognosticators of import, Nelson was invincible to begin with. I guess that’s why Johanns, Henie, Osborne, Karnes and Daub (and there are more) decided to NOT run against him after all, right?

    Finally, on immigration – take your own poll, ask other “reagan republicans” what they think about immigration and I bet 8 of ten come down where Nelson is on it. It sounds to me that you and SS are just pissed that Nelson’s position was right and he was unassailable on it.

    But back to the issue at hand – sweeper how do you plan to bestow this award? will you take a poll – secret ballot – or use a Hagel voting machine?

    I vote for Carlos if its based on actual accomplishments. Ben Nelson second for the pure gratification of how his landslide victory sticks in the craw of so many NE republicans (you still reading RR?). If its based on failures I stick with my man Pete – and no matter how many insults you come up with, I’m not changing my mind.

  24. Street Sweeper says:

    Well, at least you’ve admitted who you work for. By the way, it’s cute that you say that Ben Nelson is now a Democrat. I could have sworn that he was in the same party as his BFF George Bush.

    And b/c you and Kyle are just DYING to know how the Pol of the Year will be named, know that it involves smoke-filled rooms, small batch bourbon and swearing.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Ben Nelson personally calls citizens who publically criticize his public acts and statements. He often calls at night, always trying to press his power of office to threaten citizens to silence. Not many office holders are nutty enough to do that.

    Nelson’s behaviour falls somewhere between gestapo and neurotic.

    If you don’t know this about Nelson, you don’t know the real Ben Nelson.

  26. Street Sweeper says:

    Alas, we ran out of the small batch variety and had to go to regular old Wild Turkey.

    The Pol of the Year will be posted around 11:00 am today!

  27. battered by Ben says:

    you should look into this charge that the sleepless anonymous 6AM posted. How does this person know Ben Nelson calls “citizens” and that he calls “often at night.” is there a help group meeting I’m missing?

  28. Talkinghead says:

    Good lord, all this amnimosity towards someone with an opposing idea. Ricketts was the only NE candidate of 2006 to rate a mention in national news papers as running one of the worst campaigns (I believe that was in the Washington Post’s political blog), so there’s no reason to think it’s bizarre to point all this out.

    It is worth looking into what hagel got out of all of this. That the Ricketts campaign was that poorly run by such a NE political “genius” is a real sign that either he has no idea what NE voters want or like or he had other goals the whole time (either notion is worthy of discussion).

    Give credit to Heineman by all means; he accomplished the near-impossible. But there’s no reason to take after someone for focusing on the big general election political story, which got 90% of the media attention and 99% of the money.

    As to some of the recycled attacks on Nelson that some have posted on this thread (and those couldn’t be bitter ex-Ricketts staffers, could they?), I would ask them to provide proof of any wrongdoing. Of course, they can’t and couldn’t in October either. Meanwhile, it seems you have a little Lee Terry troll who bizarrely touts that non-entity every chance he or she gets (I mean, Lee Terry? Really? The guy almost lost to Jim Esch for goodness sakes.) But that gets not a word of mention from you …. wonder why.

    Very interesting place you run here.

  29. Street Sweeper says:

    David Byrne,
    I’m not sure who this comment is directed toward — and at this point in may be is better placed under the newer update. But in any case, of all your points, I would take exception to the idea that someone who won by nearly ten percent, in the year of the Democrat, “nearly lost”. Let’s get a hold of ourselves here…

  30. Anonymous says:

    And I am thinking of running for office…….. anybody out there run for something yet? Well anyways I belive I will regardless. now I know to tune itn to this channel. Oh btw I did ride on a plane with Ben Nelson once on a flight back from DC, didn’t strike me as being warm but then again it was a Friday after a tough week in DC doing the job.

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