The calm before the storm

First, a little Separated at Birth for you on this waning summer day.

An old school, circa 1971, young, permed, Congressional staffer, Chuck Hagel and…
An old school, equally permed, Hasselhoff!

(Chuck says eat your heart out Scott Kleeb!)


While he gave a pretty definitive statement not long ago that he would not run for President, The Hill says that New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg may still run. And of course, all of those who eat at the Palm in DC know what that means for the “Nebraska boy”, Chuck Hagel.

Couple that with the recent David Broder column about Hagel’s tidal influences, and that Unity ’08 thing may just happen yet…


The word on the Street is that Mike Johanns has hired a campaign manager.


There’s also word that Tony Raimondo been seen about town with Jim Dornan, a former campaign manger to Katherine Harris’s doomed Florida Senate campaign. Dornan made it in all the political rags (and blogs) dissing his former crazy boss. Hope Tony is sane enough for him.

And speaking of Raimondo, a Leavenworth Street reader and coffee-drinker recently spotted Raimondo slugging back some joe at a Starbucks in Lincoln with former Pete Ricketts campaign manger and current Jeff Fortenberry fund raiser Jessica Moenning. Maybe they’re both just fans of the Kenyan blend?

In any case, no word on Moenning’s plans, though way back in November of 2006 the word was that she was going to head things up for a Hal Daub campaign. She specifically denied that to Leavenworth Street back then.


And finally, Mike Fahey seems determined to build it to see if they will come down by the muddy Mo. We hope you enjoyed Rosenblatt. Buh-bye now! Of course Landow…I mean Fahey…has yet to say whether the firemen’s union will give him the ok to go ahead and build.


  1. bu says:

    I don’t know what street that is, but I’m pretty sure that if Mike Johanns has hired a campaign manager while serving as Ag Sec, he has violated the Hatch Act prohibiting federal employees from political activity.

    Also, here’s an exclusive transcript from the Raimondo-Moenning coffee:

    Raimondo: If I wanted to lose this election by 30 points, what would I need?

    Moenning: Me, and $12 million.

    Raimondo: Uh, done!

  2. Lucaplakia says:

    David Broder is an elitist hack who has exactly two follwers: himself and Chuck Hagel. I can’t wait to watch the Hagel-Bloomberg ticket go down in grand fashion thus putting a poignant end to Hagel’s abysmal senate career.

  3. puke-aplakia says:

    lucaplakia, are you delusional enough to think that Hagel has no followers? His approval ratings are extremely high. I know, I know–not amongst Republicans. Well you should start thinking about the possibility that Hagel runs for Senate as an Independent. No one in the state will beat him if that’s the case. Kerrey won’t run, Hagel will get the dem vote, the independent vote, and at least 20% of the R vote which will result in a landside.

    Run, Hagel Run!

  4. Bill says:

    Johanns this. Hal Daub that. Where is the talk about Pat Flynn? He is a lifelong Nebraskan who is not part of the GOP establishment. He also has hired Tim Criss of Mike Flood and Jeff Fortenberry fame. Instead of the negative talk why not some positives about individuals actually running races?

  5. buckturgidson says:

    Tim Criss of Mike Flood and Jeff Fortenberry FAME? Are you serious? I wouldn’t know Tim Criss if he walked up to me and introduced himself.

    If you are looking for talk of the Flynn Campaign, I would direct you to the High Times blog. Serious people know that Pat’s campaign will go up in smoke.

  6. Legion says:

    I know Jessica Moenning quite well and while I am by no means her best friend nor her apologist I do think this criticism of her is both unfair and unwarranted. She’s a decent, genuine person who holds deep, devout political beliefs and sometimes people can misconstrue that passion for abrasiveness. Let’s not forget she steered Fortenberry’s first congressional race at just 26 years of age and led him to a 10 point victory.

    And as for the Pete Ricketts Senate debacle, while no one likes to lose a contest by 30 points, it is completely unfair to shift that loss onto Jess’s shoulders…after all it was Pete Ricketts who ran for Senate not Jessica Moenning. That campaign was in total disarray early on and Pete’s original campaign manager, Pat Fiske, was a bumbling, moronic, and clueless Minnesota import who had no idea about how to run a Nebraska campaign. Jess did the best she could with what she had.

    If I ever decided to run for political office of any kind, Jessica would be the FIRST person I would want on my team.

  7. Street Sweeper says:

    Now look Mork & Bill,

    We, of course, jest about Pat Flynn and the Pat Flynn Experience. But come one! He made it waaaay to easy.

    He came out of exactly no where into a major race with major candidates and immediately started talking about smoking pot. And since his “announcement” I’ve personally seen zero articles about him commenting on any issues, or anything else about him. What else are we supposed to say?

    For all I know he’s the second coming of Atticus Finch. But until we hear further, he’s what’s known as a fringe candidate. And one with a joke stuck to him. Not a good thing…


  8. Street Sweeper says:

    Say what you will about Pat Fiske, but the guy was in charge when Ricketts won in a three-way primary…

  9. Mork says:

    I know Tim Criss–he’s a nice guy. He’s from Norfolk and has been involved in the party for years.

    I talked to him not long ago, and they were having a Flynn fundraiser in Columbus. They had some pretty good names on the list. I actually think Flynn might suprise some people.

    So I disagree with you on this one, SS.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Will someone please take away Mork’s keyboard before he types any more nonsense…this is just getting painful to read.

  11. give me a break says:


    Are you really defending Pat Fiske? That guy is a moron.

    My favorite story from the Ricketts folks is how he made their “field staffer” spend an entire day putting together a picnic table so that they could have lunch outside. That’s a winning strategy.

    How about the way he recommending that Pete protest his property tax valuation. Good idea on that one, Fiske.

    Pat’s national reputation is to run heavy media races and spend way too much money. (Which is why he has a terrible reputation.)

    In the 06′ primary, the only race anyone cared about was the Governor’s race. I walked doors for an Omaha leg. race, and had people tell me, “I’m voting for Tom Osborne”. I had to explain there were other races going on. Fiske ran enough tv to cut through the noise–which didn’t take a lot since Kramer and Stenberg had no money. (Though Fiske had no problem spending anyway.)

    Finally, Jen, Nelson obviously wasn’t a candidate in the primary, and under Fiske’s leadership, Ricketts would have sunk even further in the polls. Moenning took one for the team and kept Nelson busy so that his time and money couldn’t filter down the ticket.

  12. Keith says:

    Pat Fiske spent 5 million dollars in a primary when his opponents spents $200,000. On top of that he only won by 8%. That isn’t a resounding victory in a three-way race.

  13. Legion says:

    Yeah, a 3-way primary where one opponent refused to campaign or debate and the other always looked like he was about to have a Howard Dean meltdown at any point. What did Pat Fiske actually do besides spend Pete’s money with a Paris Hilton-style abandon? $6 million for a GOP primary! For crying out loud, SS, Pete started running commercials in October of 2005!

    I’ll admit it, Pete failed to put forth any sort of semblance of a real campaign message and he could never shake the image of being the rich kid, but his 30 point loss was not Jessica’s fault.

  14. Tim Criss, wait wait, I mean Crim Tiss, yeah says:

    I’ve heard of the Pat Flynn guy too, and I must say that I am super impressed! Everyone should totally vote for this guy for the Senate (the big one – not the little one that’s just here in Nebraska).

  15. Mork says:

    Take my keyboard away because I don’t support the Hagel establishment?

    Our nation was founded on the idea that anyone could run for representative office. Pat Flynn is doing just that. People are going to like him because he’s not a party insider. He’s a Nebraskan who actually believes that anyone can run and make a difference.

    And you know what? It’s refreshing.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Mork — fine, he can be a party outside with zero money in the bank and less than 1% of the vote. High five, congrats, nice hustle!

  17. one who has been there for both says:

    Hey Legion, you’re giving Jessica quite a bit of credit for the Fortenberry win. It was quite lucky there was a dustup between the two others in the primary. If it hadn’t been for Club for Growth’s intrusion in the primary race, Fortenberry would have never made it through the primary. That wasn’t any genius on Jessica’s part — she was just lucky.

    As for her part in the debacle of the Ricketts race? Trust me, while it was not ALL her fault, she needs to take a lot of the blame for the really bad decisions that were made.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Fiske managed a positive campaign and Ricketts won. Moenning managed a negative campaign and Ricketts lost. Both managers had access to the same bucks.

    Nelson’s first ad was a nasty
    “silver spoon” attack on Ricketts early in the GOP primary. Under Fiske, Ricketts didn’t respond, thus appeared saintly and Nelson backed off. Ricketts did the same when Kramer attacked him. Voters loved it. However, during the general, Moenning turned from dignity to darts. Nelson became her victim and thus appeared saintly in voters eyes.

    The depth of Ricketts’ loss was due to moving away from his early positivism. Moenning was there for the plunge.

  19. googler says:

    While Fiske was there for the primary to blame the 30 point thrashing on his feet is at best idiotic.

    Lets remember the stupid and childish “Farmer Nelson” ad, that could win awards for the worst political ad ever. The Behlen ads, they had hardly any volunhteers right before the general election..who was responsible, Jessica.

    They cancelled an event with Elizabeth Dole, because they didnt have enough people to attend. They didn’t have enough of a grassroots effort. They thought they could run an ad heavy general election.

    I have worked on dozens of campaigns and worked in Washington,DC. I can tell you that strategy failed.

    I will say that Jessica and Fortenberry were lucky the 2 other candidates in 2004, self-destructed and cut each other badly that Fortenberry slid in. They stayed out of the tussle between Ruehle/CFG and Bromm/RMSP. They got into the general. Otherwise, we would be saying Congressman Bromm/Ruehle.

    I find it ironic Raimondo would be talking to one of the people for trashing his reputation, business, etc.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting though if Raimondo got into the general. Nelson would have to choose between the Dem and one of his closest friends.

  20. Ricketts insider says:

    You’re personal dislike for Moenning is clouding your judgement, not-so-anonymous.

    You’re making the mistake of assuming that Ricketts and Nelson were even at the end of the Primary and not even further down at the time when Moenning took over. Trust me, the numbers were going down the $h!tter when Fiske was at the helm. Ricketts did not appear “saintly” he dipped further down in the polls when Fiske didn’t respond.

    (When did Kramer attack Ricketts? I wasn’t involved in the Kramer campaign, so I wouldn’t know just like no one else in Nebraska knew.)

    Moenning did what she could with a crappy situation. Ricketts was going down fast, and Moenning simply stopped the bleeding. It could have and would have been much worse.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Dumb who has been there for both:

    Fortenberry didn’t have a campaign manager in the primary, Moenning was raising money at the GOP. But she did run his general election campaign against Connealy, which was a top-tier race in the “leans Republican” category, and she won it by a surprising margin.

    The Fortenberry general election campaign may have gotten a few breaks -but every campaign does. Carlos Castillo got a bunch of breaks with Osborne hiring Vicki Powell, supporting illegal immigration, etc.

    It’s illogical to blame someone for a loss and give them no credit for a win.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Pete Ricketts would have lost by 30 points – positive or negative.

    Why? Because by the time Pete finally fired Pat Fiske, Fiske had overspent to the point that Pete couldn’t raise a dollar in the state, he’d encouraged Pete to embrace a national sales tax, told Pete to protest his property taxes, and to go ahead and sign the spending lid petition.

    Love her or hate her, Moenning was sent to the Ricketts campaign by other elected officials to make sure Nelson had to actually run so his money didn’t give Kleeb or Moul an advantage.

    You don’t actually think she went from the GOP to Ricketts without the blessing of Fortenberry, Hagel or Heineman do you? She was sent over there to fight back.

  23. Swept says:

    I heard that Sam Fischer of the 16% Kramer campaign has been hired to run Hal’s campaign. Can anyone confirm or deny?

  24. ManBoobs says:

    Googler…aren’t you just pissed you weren’t elevated to Campaign Manager when Fiske was fired? Instead all you became was a glorified scheduler.

  25. Anonymous says:

    googler and “been there:”

    You display such condescending ignorance. As was stated, Moenning took on the Fortenberry campaign AFTER the primary and helped Fortenberry defeat a prominent state senator who at the time was the Dems next big thing. Fortenberry easily won a race that the Democrats, state and national, poured a lot of resources into. In fact, if the GOP primary had gone a different direction, we might be calling Matt Connealy Congressman today.

    Moenning, a large part of that victory, is driven by purpose and conviction. Which is more than I can say for most of the sycophants and climbers I’ve encountered in this business. She’s great at what she does and in 06 did the most possible in a most impossible situation.

  26. Natalie Penguin says:


    Is it really almost September, and are we really still sitting re-hashing last years Senate race?

    What cracks me up is how you have a bunch of folks calling themselves “Republicans” while sitting over at the capital or in DC all day blogging while I’m paying their salaries.

    The part I find even funnier is that these same people hide behind the anonymous nature of a blog and use it to say things that they’d never have the balls to say to someone’s face. Even the famed SS falls into this category.

    So bu, googler, and all the anonymous’s, sit there like bitter, jealous cowards criticizing Jessica Moennning. But I’ll bet they see her at political functions and they smile and kiss her a$$ and would NEVER have the guts to say any of it to her face. Instead, they smile to her face, and fester on the inside jealous that she got a job they felt they were entitled to or bitter that she didn’t show them the respect that they decided they were entitled to.

    So why don’t you step forward, use your real name, then put forth some of your criticism. Otherwise, go back to collecting your government paycheck while you sit around in your own sloth.

  27. good point says:

    Good point, Natalie. Most of the people criticizing Moenning probably would be unemployed if it wasn’t for her. (Which they probably stay awake at night trying to forget.)

  28. googler is my hero says:

    Who else is really impressed that Googler has worked in Washington D.C.? Raise your hands, I mean that’s amazing. Googler is clearly extremely important.

  29. tomorrow says:

    Hey Natalie, you’ll have to wait for tomorrow for any of these losers to respond. They all left their state paid jobs at 4:30 today.

  30. Anonymous says:


    an exclusive transcript from your house tonight:

    bu’s mom: Hi honey, how was your day?

    bu: Great, I spent most of it blogging and had the chance to belittle people I resent for their accomplishments.

    bu’s mom: That’s terrific, sweetheart. I’m so proud of you and your big state job — it allows you so much creative flexibility. You know, anonymously mocking others is a very effective way of dealing with your inadequacies and shortcomings. Great work!

    bu: Thanks, mom. I’ll take my potpie now and go down to my room. I’ve got a big day of blogging ahead of me tomorrow.

  31. Street Sweeper says:

    OK kids,

    Did we get all that bitterness out of our systems? Good.

    Let’s all try to play nice from here on out, and at least stay away from the personal attacks.

    My, this is going to be an interesting primary season…


  32. Bobby Fidelis says:

    Almost all comments (except maybe one or two) worth of ignoring the fact that there were actually candidates running in these races, responsible for their own destinies, for whom the votes were cast.

    Ultimately the responsibility for campaign success or missteps belongs to each candidate, not their manager.

    Having such a vicious argument about the campaign managers rather than the final decisions of each candidate illustrates one of the many things wrong with the system.

    It is a sorry state when so many have forgotten or have completely lost focus of the fact that there are actually “leaders,” or those who seek to lead, responsible for developing positions on the issues and making decisions based on those positions. Instead, they insist on blaming or crediting others for the decisions of those who have stepped forward to be decision makers.

    If a candidate is unable to lead and tries to delegate ALL the responsibility (ultimately an impossiblity) to managers and handlers, then they are not fit to lead or even make the attempt.

    As such, as so many of you have illustrated, none of our unelected candidates were fit for office, nor were any we elected.

  33. Street Sweeper says:

    Here’s the thing Hoff,

    I had to find someone with a Mullet-Fro. I’m open to suggestions, but that’s not always an easy one to nail down…

  34. bu says:


    You’re right – mocking people ANONYMOUSLY does help me deal with my shortcomings. I am ashamed of the cowardice I’ve displayed from posting here, uh, ANONYMOUSLY.

    And stop stealing my jokes.

  35. Legion says:

    Just curious…how is a government job any less respectable than that of campaign worker or non-profit staffer? In the two latter cases people are still relying on the financial generosity of other people (donations) to cover your paychecks.

  36. Natalie Penguin says:

    It’s not any less respectable, Legion. Thank you for pointing that out.

    I know a lot of people who work for the state or the city and bust their tails to do right by the peopel who are paying them. And I know plenty of campaign or non-profit workers who are lazy and spend most of their time trying to make it look like they’re actually working when really they’re snoozing at the desk.

    You’re absolutely right–in either case someone is entrusting you with their money. (Though I don’t pay my taxes because I’m generous. 😉 ) And in the business world both types of workers abound as well, and someone, somewhere is paying the bills.

    I suppose I could argue that state employees compared to folks working in the business world or even campaigns and non-profits work pretty light hours. But that’s not really my beef.

    I guess my beef is when people in general sit around all day when they should be working using the anonymous nature of the internet to say nasty things about someone who they resent trying to make it appear that they are just observers of the process when really they have a personal axe to grind. (It’s especially annoying when everyone knows who they are anyway.)

  37. mom at home says:

    Miss Penguin is still generalizing, way too much! In the normal work world (not owning your own business or management), you punch a clock or work your assigned hours. As an elected official-at any level, you do not have a clock or an open or closed time. Just ask any “staffer” how many outside the office hours they work. There is rarely “comp time” available because there is too much at stake.

    As far as elected officials, there is even less “off” time. Aside from our Mayor, I mean Mike Fahey-not the other one, show me an elected official that refuses to attend events and meet with his or her constituents and I’ll show you one that lost their seat because they quit attending to the people they were suppose to represent!

    Miss Penguin (which is much better than being anonymous??) sounds like a bitter campaign worker that has always been overlooked by her fair elected candidate-or maybe her candidates just never get elected. I am sure she thinks the latter is someone else’s fault, too.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Ricketts lost because, to a person I talked with, got tired of seeing him on tv. Too many ads, gobbling up too much tv time and too much of our lives.

    Leave a little mystery.

  39. 42nd st says:

    News Flash: Jesus Christ Himself could not have saved the Ricketts campaign. Pete’s a bright, affable guy — but you cannot run for statewide office as the son of a billionaire (SOB) in our populist, conservative state. What’s next? Blaming Bill Callahan for the 2004 Huskers. You can’t always make lemonade when handed a lemon.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Holy cow. I was wondering what happened to Lex Luthor. Good to see he got his career back on track.

    Seriously, is Pete Ricketts going to own the Cubs or what? I probably care more about that than a silly Senate seat.

  41. Legion says:

    Hey 42nd St: way to be sexist. How do you know Jesus was a male? Were you there? Do you have proof? Your institutional misogyny is frightening…I bet you even own stock in HALLIBURTON!!!!

  42. OmaSteak says:

    Hal Daub was on KFAB this morning to purportedly talk about the results of his “listening tour”. While it’s fairly obvious he’s itching to run for Senate, Hal really demonstrated his real calling…potential Mayor of Omaha…when he was asked about how to deal with the spiking issue in fire union pensions.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Street Sweeper, look at all these comments! Have you ever thought about opening a web forum on your website? With or without, I still enjoy your blog.

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