Bachelors and Endorsements

We read various stories recently about Senator Mike Johanns moving out of his U.S. Senate Doublewide trailer into an actual Senate office in the Russell building. We were curious however, to see what the inside of this badboy looked like.

And here ya go: a real, live, portable Senate office! (At least it was yesterday, anyway.)
In a story in the Politico, Johanns noted how the close proximity allowed him to become closer with his staff:

The bright side is that I’ve been kept up-to-date on all the latest news by my staff: what’s happening on the Senate floor, legislative proposals and even the latest events from ‘The Bachelor.’ 

In fact, the staff is convinced one of our LAs could be a look-alike for the latest bachelor.” (The LA’s name is T.J. Birkel.)

T.J. isn’t in that particular staff pic (he may have been out picking up roses.) So we instead offer you a Separated at Birth featuring the most recent The Bachelor, Jason Mesnick and (a blurry-cam photo of) Johanns staffer, T.J. Birkel:

Nebraska Right to Life came out with their endorsements for the city primaries in Omaha and Lincoln. They are as follows:

Hal Daub
Jim Vokal


Dist. 1——Sharon Chvala
Dist. 2——No Endorsements
Dist. 3——Chip Maxwell (sole endorsement due to NRL PAC policy of showing preference to grassroots pro-life activists).
Dist. 4——No Endorsements
Dist. 5——Jon Blumenthal & Jean Stothert
Dist. 6——Franklin Thompson (sole endorsement due to NRL PAC policy of showing preference to incumbent)
Dist. 7——Chuck Sigerson (incumbent)


3 At Large Positions——Adam Hornung & Ken Svoboda (incumbent)

Dist. 1——Kirby Young
Dist. 3——No Endorsements
Dist. 5——Norman Dority, Kevin Keller & Mike Laughter
Dist. 7——Andrew Ringsmuth

(Note that Jim Vokal was added yesterday in the Omaha Mayor’s race, as NRtL said they received his response late.)

We often get asked why NRtL and other groups bother endorsing candidates in races for positions where abortion seldom comes up. Here is what we said regarding this last year:

Here is why said candidate’s opinion on a hot button issue, like abortion, matters in a race like City Council, where there are few abortion issues the Council could impact:

The future viability of that candidate. 

Say Candidate X gets elected to the Council. Then Candidate X will have a much easier time getting elected to the next level, be that Mayor, legislature, Congress or what have you.

That is why Pro-Life and Pro-Choice groups get involved with candidates that don’t have much say on their issues…now.

As he or she gets more political experience and become more a viable candidates, he or she will have a better chance of election to the next level. They will have more of an “incumbent’s chance” than simply coming out of no where, no matter their views on specific issues.

That is why those hot-button issues in a race like City Council still matter.

And here was an additional comment by NRtL’s Julie Schmidt-Albin:

SS said it well on why pro-life PACS care about Weed Board, Community College, County Board and yes, City Council races.

I might add to that that indeed for the Lincoln City Council, abortion was an issue from 1991-1995 while they were voting for money in the city budget to go to Planned Parenthood. Pro-lifers showed up en massse for council budget hearings that went into the wee hours to speak against such funding. At the time we made the case that PP was tied to abortion and in 1995 did open its own freestanding abortion facility in Lincoln.

Former Lincoln City Councilman Ken Haar voted for the PP funding those years. He is the husband of Chris Funk, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Nebraska/Council Bluffs. And Ken Haar just happens to be running for Legislature in LD 21. Another PP candidate, Barb Baier, won election to the Lincoln School Board. Now she’s trying to move up the ladder to the Lancaster County Board. There has been controversy about the county awarding Keno funds to PP.

So yes these issues can crop up at the local level but as SS illuminated, candidates with ambition have to start somewhere, and oftentimes it’s county and city races.

And if you’re still thinking about it, look no further than former City Councilmen, Adrian Smith, Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry and Mike Johanns.

By the way, we’re not promoting of demoting any of these candidates because of this endorsement, or lack there of. 

But we can guarantee that other people do.


The OWH continues their profiles of the Mayoral candidates today, with their review of Jim Suttle.

After going on and on about what a strange bird Suttle is, how Mike Boyle can only say, “He’s very organized, ” and how Mayor Mike Fahey isn’t even endorsing the only Democrat in the race, we get this piece:

The chill continued a month later, when Suttle started to speak during a council meeting. Some of his six colleagues tuned him out. One stared ahead. One stifled a giggle. One studied papers. Another turned his back.

“That’s politics,” Suttle said. “I’m a big boy. I sucked it up and life went on.”

Suttle said that the actions were clearly meant to embarrass him but that the embarrassment belonged to colleagues who played political games instead of doing what was right for Omahans.

That’s politics???

That’s some bizarre stuff…


From the OWH, there was just a bit of a RRRrrrrRAR!, cat-fight, coming from the Nebraska Breakfast in DC.

Lee Terry said,

“Now whenever anyone needs money, you know, for a project with the NRD, you go to the guy that’s senior in the Senate on Appropriations. So let’s hear it for Ben Nelson.”

Nelson then got up and said:

“And then when I help you out, Lee will criticize the earmark.”

Later, Terry hit Nelson with the non-apology-apology:

“Ben could call me a hypocrite, but the reality is what I’ve called for is that there needs to be limitations and there needs to be transparency and that earmarks had gotten out of control.  I’m sorry that Ben was offended by that.” (emphasis ours)



  1. Street Sweeper says:

    While we’re sure everyone gets the joke, we would ask that you not use someone else’s name for your comment identity.


  2. Fan of Jon B. says:

    You know Jon Blumenthal has been a “Driving Force” in the right to life movement in the last 15 years.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Someone during that campaign said they thought Moats was an overly litigious SOB. Threatened to sue everyone.

    Good to know they missed the mark with that. 😉

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Rex Moats suit is such a scam– he can’t have lost wages unless he can prove he lost the election just because of the mailings. That can’t be done. And he says he’s never had a JURY trial, so he’s not a trial lawyer. That must mean he’s had other trials? How do you define trial lawyer? Is it defamatory to say he is?

  5. Anonymous says:

    T.J. Birkel is an upstanding American! I find it inexcusable that a staff photo be taken in his absence. T.J. was likely doing his job while others posed for this picture and for that T.J. we salute you.

  6. everything by google search says:

    Moats bio from National Warranty actually listed an award he received from the International Association of Trial Attorneys.

    His bio is still available using google search – Rex Moats, Award, Trial Attorneys.

    Darn…I just connected Rex Moats with National Warranty. My bad.

  7. Cayman Island says:

    Rex Moats worked at Young & White? Just like the Johanns staff, from the looks of it. Not a whole lot of diversity there, eh Mike?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Did you read the Vokal piece in the World-Herald? Ouch. He has only ever managed TWO people? And he wants us to hire him as “CEO” of our city? Please.

  9. Anonymous says:

    And now some positive quotes from the OWH article:

    “He gets it,” said Jim Champion, director of the Midtown Business Association. “He knows how to blend community needs with economic development.”

    Former City Councilman Subby Anzaldo, who lives in Vokal’s district, said he is impressed with Vokal’s battle against litter, prostitution, potholes and problem bars. He just thinks Vokal could use some rounding out.

    I think Jim was hesitant about running in this field, but when he realized that Suttle would be his main opposition to making it to the General election he forged ahead. Jim will more than likely make it to the second round – then I believe anything can happen.

  10. Anonymous says:

    But do we want Vokal to have to do his “rounding out” while he’s mayor of our city? I’d personally prefer my mayor be thoroughly rounded by now. These are tough times. We need experience. We need Hal Daub.

  11. millard repub says:

    It is interesting that Jean Stohert is now claiming to be pro-life. The Right to Life wouldn’t endorse her in the race for Legislature because she supports using taxpayer dollars for abortion.

    I smell a flip-flop.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I would have to hold my nose, but I’d take Jim Suttle over Jim Vokal any day. At least Suttle has more management experience than I do. I can’t say that about Vokal. Who can?

    You think this guy will be able to handle our city’s economic situation, the one he helped create?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Millard Repub…Skinner.

    Call NRTL and ask them about it.

    They will tell you that you do not have your facts straight. No one buys your lame Steve Lathrop talking points BS.

    Jean Stothert IS endorsed by the Nebraska Right to Life.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Ben Nelson has a habit of quietly threatening individual citizens. He is an abuser of power and a scary individual.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Maybe she is pro-life. Mitt Romney changed to being pro-life too. At least he had the decency to admit he changed his mind, and he explained his thinking. Given that this is a turn around for her, she owes the public an explanation. What exactly in her thinking changed? This is too big of a deal to just change quietly and hope nobody notices. We shouldn’t have to call the NRtL for an explanation that needs to be made public.

    My guess is that she is either lying now, or she’s trying to have it both ways. She wants her name to go out on the NRtL literature, but she wants to keep it quiet enough so that she can still get all the money and support from people who think she’s still pro-choice.

  16. Anonymous says:

    What’s with Jim Vokal’s hatred of West Omaha? In his debates he mentioned ideas and solutions for every part of Omaha EXCEPT West Omaha. And now in today’s OWH article he’s quoted as saying he’d never live in West Omaha again. That’s fine — he can live wherever he wants, but why the disdain for West Omaha??

    As someone who lives in West Omaha, this makes me very, very nervous if he were to win. It seems like we would always be last on Jim Vokal’s list of priorities.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Big surprise to see Chip Maxwell, someone with no science background but somehow wrote a book on stem cell research, gets the endorsement from the RTL group. He doesn’t understand this stuff, but darn it he tries and makes decisions without proper understanding. That is why I like him too. I can’t wait until he is on the city council doing the same thing.

  18. Anonymous says:

    11:45, Jean would never do that. Look at her NADC report – – it’s big-time conservative support – – 5,000 from Dick Holland, 10,000 from Big Labor – – oh wait – – never mind.

    [this post to be followed by post from Stothert touting “massive” endorsement list and bipartisanship.]

  19. Just The Facts says:

    Do we need to look at other good Republicans to see who has been supported by labor?

    And, looking at Stotherts report I see some very big Republicans listed and I see that the labor support is a very small % of her total contributions.

    Just another exageration by the Blumenthal camp. Keep them comming, his credibility just keeps sinking.

  20. Pro Lifer says:

    The only reason NRTL didn’t endorse Stothert in ’06 was because of her position on stem cells.

    Maybe, just maybe, because she is a nurse by training, Stothert has actually studied the advancements in stem cell science and medical research that will now lead to important advancements in treating deadly diseases and afflictions without the use of embryonic stem cells.

    As a nurse, Stothert has worked to save and prolong life. What has Blumenthal done for the pro-life cause lately?

  21. Anonymous says:

    People! Why isn’t anyone talking about T.J.???

    You have the option of chatting it up about Rex Moats or T.J. Birkel, and you choose Moats! Jon Blumenthal, maybe, but Rex Moats?!

  22. Anonymous says:

    So you’re saying Stothert’s views on stem cells have changed? OK, so let’s hear her explain it. Why be so secretive?

    Is it ok to have an anti-life position if you’re “trained as a nurse”? Get real.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I read the World-Herald article this morning, and I still can’t believe it:

    Jim Vokal has only ever been in charge of…. TWO PEOPLE!

  24. Not Ready says:

    2 people! 2 people!!!!! I though he was some sort of Vice President…you know some big banker or real estate broker….He is no mor qualified than Paul Koneck!

  25. 3rd floor watcher says:

    The best assessment ever of the Jim Vokal candidacy for Mayor: “This is not change we can believe in, this is change that has disaster written all over it.”

  26. omaha voter says:

    What was Jim Vokal ever a “Driving Force” for as a council member??? Going after prostitutes??? Adding Speed bumps at field club??? Wow great accomplishments Jim!!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    “This is not change we can believe in, this is change that has disaster written all over it.”

    I love that line. It is so true about a Vokal administration.

  28. Julie Schmit-Albin says:

    I don’t want to get caught in the crossfire between two NRL PAC-endorsed candidates. This is an attempt to clarify why NRL PAC endorsed Stothert this time and not in 2006 when she ran for Legislature. PAC Director Denise Ashby and I called Jean and talked to her after receiving this survey. We had not been able to endorse her in 2006 over one question, the question of research using frozen, IVF embryos in labs. In 2006 in her interview with us Jean said she was grappling with that and couldn’t honestly say she would not support using the IVF embryos. We asked her about it this time as her survey reflected her opposition to it. Jean said that given the advancements that have been made on the ethical research side, most in the past year, that she could now see no need to resort to using what many term, “frozen, left-over embryos” in labs. We did not just gloss over Jean’s 2009 survey but did note that she seemed to have a change in position and called her about it. We do have to take people at their word ultimately. I do not recall an issue with Jean re: taxpayer funding of abortion in 2006. Our inability to endorse her at that time was due to the one bioethics question. She was opposed to cloning. All of this said, it appears that Jon Blumenthal embraces a solid pro-life position as well. It also appears that Brian Buescher and Chris Jerram hold solid pro-life positions, given their survey answers. The reason NRL PAC did not endorse Jerram and Buescher is because we invoked our “sole endorsement for a pro-life activist” provision with Chip Maxwell. Thanks for letting me go on.

  29. Ricky says:

    Thanks for clearing that up JSA.
    Now everybody raise their hand if you think an endorsement by a NRL PAC will make a dimes worth of difference to any race in the city.


    I don’t see any hands raised.

    ricky from omaha

  30. Anonymous says:

    I challenge Jordan McGrain (or Street Sweeper — although he has been more even-keeled lately) to spin the fact that Jim Vokal has ever managed only TWO people is his life.

    Jordan, have at it… If you can spin that one, I’ll hire you as MY campaign manager.

  31. Not for Jim says:

    Jim is probably in 3rd place because the donors realized he has managed only 2 people…..”this is change that has disaster written all over it”

  32. Anonymous at 3:10 says:

    So let me get this straight. Stothert couldn’t bring herself to take the pro-life position when it was the hard thing to do, but now all of sudden she is pro-life because “advancement” in research makes embryonic stem cell research unnecessary? What if embryonic stem cell research all of a sudden makes some advancement that ethical research can’t keep up with? Can we expect her to stick to her “pro-life” position? Yeah, I didn’t think so. It sounds to me like she hasn’t really changed. You may ultimately “take people’s word,” but I’m disappointed in NRtL on this one. It’s pretty clear to me that you still can’t trust Stothert’s judgment on life issues.

    And, yes, 3:13, IVF is morally wrong. Any pro-lifer with half a brain can tell you that.

  33. In the Know says:

    To Anonymous Above: I don’t think you can handle Jean Stothert being a “driving force” in Omaha politics. I know it ticks you off that an accomplished woman with a real resume is beating the Baird Holm Brat in this race.

  34. Anonymous at 3:10 says:

    Yeah, all you have to do to win is tell everyone what they want to hear. Tell the anti-life people you’re pro-choice and tell the pro-life people that you’re pro-life. Sounds like she’s becoming a model politician. No thanks.

  35. Flip and Flop says:

    Wait I thought it was Jon Blumenthal that changed his tune depending on who he talks to. Didn’t he tell Doug Kagan’s group he was against raising taxes then told the Omaha Police Union he was in favor of raising taxes on restaurants? Don’t even get me started on his inflated resume.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I met Jon Blumenthal months ago and think he is a nice, intelligent guy. I think the debate shows he is a better public speaker than Jean Stothert, and probably is smarter.

    But his campaign manager is Jordan McGrain. All I’ve ever seen from him is slash and burn. That choice alone tells me Blumenthal is willing to sell his soul to win.

    Jean Stothert has my vote, and I honestly could have gone either way.

  37. Nothing New says:

    Hey all you Daubies – and I know who you are. you comments are stale.

    here’s one for you: do you realize Hal is 2-3 in his last five elections? wow.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Hmmmmmmmmmm, what is Jordan’s record?? It is about to become 0 and 2 in this election alone. If you count the failure of Bruning’s Senate race – 0 and 3.

    Has he ever won a race?? I don’t know much about McGrain, but his act is getting old.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Hal wisely pulled out of the senate race with MJ running. But he knew with Jordan running Bruning’s race if MJ didn’t get in he would clean Jon’s clock!!!

  40. Anonymous says:

    If to be pro-life you need to be against IVF, the pro-life constituency just got VERY small. Or there are a lot of hypocrites.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Jordan McGrain ran Vokal’s successful race against Anne Boyle in 2005. Remember that Republicans? Pretty big deal at the time. In fact, Mark Quandahl credited Vokal and McGrain for keeping the council in Republican control. How quickly we forget.

  42. Anonymous says:

    And he created a monster, who is narcissistic enough to think he’s qualified to run a city, when he’s only ever managed 2 people in his whole life!

  43. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone noticed Hal Daub’s yellow teeth as he smiles at the very end of his tv ad that is on air right now?

  44. moron voter says:

    Having yellow teeth is much worse than only managing 2 people…I’m voting for Jim Vokal….I love those pearly whites of his.

  45. Campaign insider says:

    I heard the Daub campaign was looking to hire a few more staff after the primary…Hey Vokal camp…Tower will take your calls in confidence.

  46. Anonymous says:

    I can see that there is a lot of misinformation about stem cell research in this state, and that is why I keep calling out Chip Maxwell. I know there are very serious concerns about stem cell research and people need to be knowledgeable about the subject before saying that it is morally wrong and not pro-life. Chip Maxwell skews science that he doesn’t understand and uses it to champion the anti-stem cell crowd. I don’t like it when I see people on here taking a hard line on complex issues that I am sure 99% don’t understand. These are complex issues that need to be examined, but you cannot say that IVF or stem cell research is wrong because NRTL or your church says its wrong.

    I am Catholic, and the Catholic church almost always sides against science to prevent schisms on its conservative side. I pay very close attention to these issues in Catholicism as a scientist. This is why it is not always a straight forward answer from your religion. Facts are not always considered.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Daub is way out front? Is this another one of those cocktail napkin polls conducted by the firm of Gleep Glop and the Floopty Doos?

    Let’s see the numbers then, Hal. Show us the race is over – I dare you.

  48. Julie Schmit-Albin says:

    Anon at 2:00 p.m. Describing yourself as a “Catholic scientist” against the Church’s position on unethical biomedical research: why don’t you reveal yourself and take Chip and others on in a public forum with the facts that you say are not being presented?

  49. Informed says:

    Julie is right on the money. If you are going to mkae specific claims against someone…put your name behind it.

    As far as the mayor’s race polling? I note that i the forst Primary report Daub listed an expenditure to Public Opinion Strategies.

    They are the best Republican polling firm. If there is a napkin floating based on their results, I’d take it seriously.

  50. (un)Informed says:

    …never talk on two phones, watch TV, and try to type a blog post.

    Hoorible was my last post typos!!!! You get the idea.

  51. Geosuser says:

    3/30 2:00 PM Anon…if the “father” of embryonic stem cell research has been saying for some time now that the use of embryonic stem cells is no longer necessary, just what else do you need to study? The real interest behind the renewed push for embryonic stem cell research is a shot at millions in taxpayer money (really just more taxpayer debt) that will now be available. Embryonic stem cell research isn’t illegal, it just can’t attract as much private capital funding so its proponents trumpet promises of future “cures” to garner support for wasting taxpayer money when venture capital firms have already voted on the subject by not providing funding.

  52. Anonymous says:

    The fundraising numbers are in the World-Herald this morning.

    Once again, Daub and Suttle each raised almost twice as much as Vokal.

    Vokal only has about $30,000 cash-on-hand, just enough for about a week of TV at Daub & Suttle levels.

    He's toast.

    (Let him now see if he can find any company, let alone a city, who will let him be their "CEO" when his lifetime management experience consists of managing two bank tellers at Norwest.)

  53. Anonymous says:

    Geosuser, that is exactly the misinformation that I am referring to. None of that is true. If you want the real information please refer to scientific journals and not he media. I have addressed my concerns to Chip and he replied with angst and could not be reasoned with. This is why the Republican party is looked at with disdain by the scientific community. Science is not taken as evidence, only as a nuisance.

  54. Street Sweeper says:

    You know, without Chip giving his input here, I’m inclined to stop this argument.

    You’ve provided zero specifics about the argument you’re trying to make and are now trying to put words in someone else’s mouth.

    If you’re dying to make your case about an issue, make it. But I’m tiring quickly of the “I have researched this issue and Chip hasn’t and I’m a man of science.”

    Stop the BS or take it some place else.


  55. Anonymous says:

    Sorry SS,

    I posted previously:

    He (Chip) uses the argument that adult stem cell transplants are an excuse not to do use ESCR. That is not the same thing at all. He says that induced adult stem cells are “scientifically superior” for research use to embryonic stem cells. They are not, in fact they are in the early stages of research and we just figured out how to make them. They often form cancers and are not perfect or even normal cells. This is great research, but it is nowhere near being a replacement for ESCR. We don’t even know what is going on in these cells, how can we know that the ones that we made to act similar are superior?

    It is hard to get into this argument without citing proper evidence, which would be extremely long posts, and still people do not seem to believe it.

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