The Primary for Omaha Mayor is coming up on April 7th. A few of you also know that voters get to choose candidates for each City Council District that day as well.
“Whaaa?” you say. Oh yeah. There are slew of candidates for City Council, and in the next few weeks you will hear a bunch of names that will become trivia contest answers when you’ve got your elbows on the bar the following week.
But, in the mean time, we here on Leavenworth Street will try (try) to give you sort of a brief rundown of the races. (WOWT Channel 6 has a nice summary of each candidate and their links here. ) But of the seven City Council Districts (all up), only two of them will have contested primaries — where there are more than two candidates. And of those two, there is only one, frankly, that we know what to do with.
The main contest will take place in District 3, Jim Vokal’s present district. It stretches from the river to 72nd Street, and is (roughly) bordered on the north by Cuming St. and (roughly) on the south by Center St. (See a full map here.)
Now we put up each candidate’s logo there (or an estimation of it) (Cross’s may be coming), because City Council is one of those goofy elections where yard-signs can matter. In the races like President or Senate, while everyone loves them a yard sign, the name ID is so high that they really don’t have much effect. But in a City Council race of unknowns?
Probably the biggest factor a candidate can make is actually walking door to door. Then direct mail and phone calls. Radio and TV are trickier for these offices, but can be effective if you have some cash. But yard-signs can be an interesting test of support and provide more name ID in these types of races. Keep a lookout for those logos.
In any case, while we hate to do a breakdown of “who will win” right now, there will are a few interesting factors:
There are three big names in this race: Chip Maxwell, Brian Buescher and Chris Jerram.
Maxwell is a former State Senator and Douglas County Commissioner. In November 2008, he lost a bitter, close race for re-election to the board to former Omaha City Councilman Marc Kraft. To see just how much that still affects Maxwell, see the “Record” part of his webpage where he knocks all the points that Kraft made against him in that campaign. He probably feels that he has to address those point that were made just a few months ago — though it makes for sort of a different account of his record.
In theory here, Maxwell will be bumping heads with Brian Buescher. Buescher is a lawyer with Kutak Rock, and is a former chair of the Douglas County GOP. Buescher declared early for this race and has been garnering cash and support — raising over $25K (with $21K COH), to Maxwell’s $11K (with $1300 COH).
Now the “battle” between those two could be for the heart of the GOP voters. But then again, while Vokal defeated Ann Boyle in this district, it isn’t exactly a GOP enclave. Maxwell’s name ID is arguably higher, and if he can soak that, he could have a shot.
The other major candidate here is Chris Jerram. Jerram is (another) lawyer, and former head of the Douglas County Democrats. Jerram has solid support among the local Dems, and has also some solid fund raising — $31K (with $28K COH).
The only thing that could muck things up for Jerram a little are the candidacies of Jim Farho and Crystal Rhoades. While both are political newbies, they are both very involved in their neighborhood associations, and have each raised around $5K. And both are Democrats. Assuming that they won’t make it to the final two, can their campaigns leach enough off of Jerram’s support to kick up Maxwell and Buescher?
It will be an interesting night on April 7th for District 3.
Oh, and Steve Cross? We emailed Steve, and he was a little miffed that he didn’t have more notice to get his info to us. He responded “I read books, not blogs and I surely have never heard of this particular one.” Ouch! (We will update once we receive.)
The other main contested Primary is in North Omaha’s District 2. Ben Gray, James English and Cheryl Weston are taking on Councilman Frank Brown.
This race should easily come down to Brown vs Gray. And while we would give incumbent Brown the advantage (with $11K COH), we wouldn’t count out Gray who is raising a little cash himself ($5K from Wally Weitz, and a grand apiece from Susan Buffett and Mike Yanney) ($4K COH). It could be one to watch come May.
The race for outgoing Councilman Dan Welch’s District 5 between Jean Stothert and Jon Blumenthal is already a battle. Heck you mention macrame and coffee here on Leavenworth Street and somehow if turns into a Stothert versus Blumenthal diatribe in the comments section.
OK commenters! We’re guessing there are a few opinions out there on all of these folks. Have at it.