Hal Daub beat Hal Daub on Tuesday. The election was a referendum on Daub, pure and simple.
No one (with any sense) went to the polls and said, “that Jim Suttle guy has the right ideas for Omaha!” Of course that is mainly because Suttle offered no ideas during the campaign. He simply drove the “I’m not Hal Daub!” sound car up and down the streets so that people knew they could check his name.
Daub pointed out in his election night speech that he wouldn’t have done anything differently in the campaign. And how could he have? People knew who he was, knew he had all the ideas, knew he was the superior intellect and manager, and just over half the voters still decided they didn’t like him. He was never going to change his personality.
And Daub was stuck at times. His negatives were always high, and he had a difficult time besting 40% in some polls. So he was forced to go negative against Suttle, to raise Suttle’s negatives (which were basically in the “unknown” department prior to that). That gave Suttle the opening to go with the “same old negative Hal Daub” line. And it worked.
Daub could have tweaked some of his ads (we weren’t nuts about he Suttle-sled one), but he really ran into the same problem, so to speak — he is, was, and ever shall be Hal Daub.
But note that being “Hal Daub” nearly got him elected again. And it let him lead a successful city previously as Mayor. It let him be a successful lawyer and businessman. It let him be a successful member of the MECA board. It let him be a successful Congressman.
Daub, and the Daub campaign, should have no regrets and no apologies. Sure you can always come up with something that you would do differently as you look back. It was close. Whaddaya gonna do.
Now, a few notes about Hal Daub and some other candidates.
There is an argument floating around that Hal Daub should have stepped aside and let Jim Vokal (or maybe Dan Welch) run for Mayor because Daub (and Maxwell) should have known that he couldn’t win the General Election no matter who he ran against.
It is certainly the case that Daub knew he would have had a much more difficult time against Jim Vokal than he did against Jim Suttle. There was a reason why Daub went after Vokal and not Suttle in the primary.
But the idea that Daub should have stepped aside for Vokal (or that Chip Maxwell should have done the same for Brian Buescher) has no merit.
If Vokal or Buescher couldn’t win in the primary on their own accord, they don’t deserve to be in the general. Daub lost in the general by 1,463 votes — less than 2%. Maxwell lost by less than 500 votes. It is too convenient for the Vokal and Buescher proponents to come in now and declare who could have won those races.
We think that both Vokal and Buescher were and are outstanding candidates. They both have a bright future in Omaha and Nebraska politics, ran good campaigns and would have been excellent in the positions they sought.
But no one inherits a right to a candidacy. To suggest that someone else step aside “for the good of the party” usually means that you want them to do it for the good of your guy. Next time we suggest running a more effective campaign yourself. You control your own destiny, not the other guy.
Suttle’s win in Tuesday’s election ended a fantastic and tumultuous career for Hal Daub. While Daub will likely be around for a long time more and continue to be a mover and shaker, it is unlikely (we think) that he will run for another major office.
So where does that leave the Republican Party in Omaha?
We look at Omaha, mainly because Dave Heineman still has a firm grasp on the Governor’s office. And back locally, Lee Terry isn’t leaving any space in a GOP Primary. (If Terry ever leaves or loses, there would be a cut-throat in-party battle for his seat.)
So lets focus back on Omaha city government. There is certainly a vacuum right now for the Mayor’s office in 2013. Think that’s too far off? Ask Jim Suttle when he decided to start running for Mayor.
So who would you point to for a challenge to him?
Running down the list of elected Republicans you could look at (in theory) Chuck Sigerson, Franklin Thompson and Jean Stothert on the Council. (Keep in mind that Suttle was a one-termer.)
There are Jim Vokal and Dan Welch who recently left, and could possibly be interested in a return.
Others interested? Dave Kramer? Dave Nabity? Someone else with enough money or influence to build up name ID? (And by the way, don’t think this isn’t one of the MAIN responsibilities of the state and local party apparatus.)
We’re interested in your suggestions. It may give a good indication of what will happen in the nearer-than-you-think future.