Leavenworth Street has learned that after the April 19th Nebraska Spring “Red-White” football game, Osborne will retire his position as Athletic Director and will mount a late write-in campaign for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate against Mike Johanns.
(Initial word is that former Husker great Dave Rimington will replace Osborne as AD on an interim basis, with a likely full-time position named later.)
Osborne reportedly felt that his initial plan of serving as an interim AD had gone as scheduled and that he felt he had accomplished what he set out to do – namely right the flagging football program with new coach Bo Pelini. Osborne felt there was little more for him to do than raise money for the new athletic facility that bears his name – a prospect that brought him no joy.
And Osborne’s feelings have apparently been instigated by two of his top financial backers: David Sokol and Warren Buffett. Our sources tell us that both Sokol and Buffett committed to Osborne that if he challenged Johanns he would do so with their full financial support. They have pledged to raise $30 million for Osborne’s write-in candidacy, via their vast financial networks.
While Osborne knows a traditional write-in candidacy is a long-shot, his vitriol for the Hagel-Heineman-Johanns cabal that dashed his run for the Governor’s office has made this a very personal stake for him.
In addition to the financial backing, at this time the word is that Osborne will also receive the political backing of Attorney General Jon Bruning and State Treasurer Shane Osborn. Both reportedly visited with Buffett and Sokol in January of this year to get the ball rolling. In a later meeting with the four at Gorats in Omaha in early February, Osborne reportedly gave the go ahead for things to start “in the background”. The risky plan to announce so late was seen as a strategic move to catch the Johanns camp off guard.
Our sources also tell that the nascent Osborne campaign has already vetted the idea with Republican Presidential nominee John McCain — an early “Osborne for Governor” backer. While McCain is not likely to campaign for Osborne, he will probably give at least vocal support to the concept of Osborne’s candidacy. This too is seen as a thumb in the eye to McCain’s former GOP ally Chuck Hagel.
We here on Leavenworth Street think Osborne’s chances are a long-long-shot. He only has thirty-some days until the primary, and if he’s waiting until the Spring Game to officially announce, that makes it even shorter. Also, since the GOP voters rejected him once, we’re not sure why he thinks he’ll have a better shot this time around.
But with a “I got rid of Bill Callahan, I can get rid of Mike Johanns” theme behind him, Osborne may just catch fire. He’s already been hailed as a combination of Jesus and Bob Devaney in the AD job, and people have most likely forgotten about the Governor’s primary. Also, we can’t imagine that Osborne is going to make the same mistakes twice.
This is a bold move on Osborne’s part. But we’re not surprised. After all, he’s the guy who went for two…
For all those who didn’t “get it”, try taking the first letter of each word in the photo caption and see what it spells. (With apologies to the classic SI “Sid Finch” article…)