Is Ben looking at 2012?

There has been a lot of talk about what Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson’s motivations are for his Health Care re-form bill vote.

He obviously feels firmly about the abortion issue — but he also firmly feels the wrath of Nebraska Right to Life if he DOESN’T vote their way.

But we saw an interesting note in a recent Reuters article that got our attention. It said…

Nelson won re-election in 2006 by a 28 percentage-point margin and is unlikely to face much opposition in 2012 unless Nebraska’s popular Republican Governor Dave Heineman decides to run.

This hit us on a few levels:

1) Really? Not much opposition? Well we can easily think of a number of Nebraska politicos who could give Nelson a run, especially if he’s damaged goods after the Health Care vote:

  • AG Jon Bruning (though he may be more interested in 2014 Governor);
  • State Treasurer Shane Osborn (according to Limbaugh and the WSJ);
  • Don Stenberg or State Senator Tony Fulton — especially whomever wins State Treasurer in 2010;
  • GOP Committeeman Pete Ricketts (say what you want about getting blown out in 2006, Nelson has to spend a wad to get that win);
  • maybe Lee Terry or Jeff Fortenberry get restless.
We could easily keep going — again, especially depending on how Nelson votes on the Health Care bill.

2) Frankly, we hadn’t thought about Governor Dave taking the Senate. But not surprising, right? The jump from Nebraska Governor to U.S. Senator has been sort of the standard, right? (e.g. Exon, Kerrey, Nelson, Johanns)

Then there’s the fact that he has the background:

  • was a Chief of Staff on the Hill;
  • knows how to play;
  • great background story as a United States Military Academy at West Point grad, Airborne Ranger, City Councilman, State Treasurer, Lt. Governor, Governor (who beat T.O.).
That’s one heck of a résumé.
When we ask around, we don’t exactly receive the “get outta here! no way!” from state politicos.

And DH has been making the rounds as well. On Greta van Sustern the other night.

Of course he has to make it past Mike Boyle in 2010 first. (And don’t think this won’t come up in the form of a “pledge” in a Governors’ debate…)

3) For what it’s worth, the NEGOP has a new site up: Sort of reminds us of one of those sites when you’re trying to get rid of Charlie Weiss or Mark Mangino. But a concerted effort, nonetheless. Hmmm.

Anyway, some food for thought for the weekend (for you and Ben), and into your Christmas week.


Oh, and get in your nominations for the Fourth Annual Leavenworth Street Nebraska Politician of the Year! (announced the week of New Years)

And…whaddaya know. Look who on the first one, back in 2006


  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes, b/c the Osborne is so scary and that divorce won't have any juicy details. And Bruning has been particularly effective, since he has faced no one in any real contest. This post is borderline deranged.

  2. Street Sweeper says:

    I will say that Osborn could have issues, but 2012 is a long way off.

    But if you don't think Bruning will be a serious contender in whatever office he goes for, YOU are deranged!

    (No YOU are! Yes you are! Infinity!)

  3. Street Sweeper says:

    High office. Always in the news. Few negatives. Political hardballer. Well organized. Looks good. Sounds good. Taking his time.

    You don't think he does REALLY well statewide?

  4. Right Wing Professor says:

    Bruning's been a very capable AG. I've had reason to contact his office on both personal and political matters, and they've been rapidly and wholly responsive. That sort of thing makes you a lot of friends.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I haven't seen any polling on him. Can you share?

    Well professor, I guess if your personal interactions with him make him a good AG, what can I say?

  6. Anonymous says:


    I'm surprised. In my mind, there's about a 5% chance the Gov. WON'T run in 2012. I'd be willing to put my money where my mouth is.

  7. Anonymous says:


    You forgot the heaviest arrow in the Bruning quiver – he is sitting on a combined 1.4 million in campaign cash and is hands-down the best fundraiser in the state. Everyone knows this, and that's why he sits atop the heap.

  8. Nathan says:

    I'd be VERY surprised if DH didn't run in 2012. I also think he is the strongest candidate for the repubs. Osborne and Bruning have issues (ask a county sheriff their opinion of Bruning, chances are its negative and for a good reason). As a Dem, I ask that you all nominate Pete Ricketts against Ben Nelson in 2012. Although Ben might just call it quits in 2012, people want to go out on their own terms, not anyone others.

  9. One Out In The Third says:

    I have doubts about Bruning in the sense that he backed off when Heineman barked in the last election.

    It was interesting this afternoon when Rush Limbaugh…Supreme Leader of All Things Republican…jumped out and stated in pretty basic fashion that Shane Osborn…American Hero…is serious about running in 2012 and that he would be the one to kick Nelson's butt (not in those exact terms…but close). I think the Dems would wave the bloody flag at Osborn…then of course time heals all wounds.

    My choice…Mike Foley…although he holds a milk-toast position…I think he has more gravitas than most of the contenda's…including Heineman. I can't pin down what it is about Heineman that doesn't sit right with me…but I have that gut felling he isn't a complete package.

  10. Blah Blah Blah says:

    Well lets see thats 93 sherrifs that won't vote for him. But ask most average Nebraskans and you get a pretty positive opinion of him. Bruning is a political monster in this state and he'll be around for many years. One thing I think most people are overlooking is that he stepped aside like a good little Republican for Johanns in '08. You don't think the party will remember that and repay him tenfold with support and $$$. I think he could very well give EBN a tough contest.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I missed the Gov on Greta Van S…

    But I'll be sure not to miss Fox News 3 pm Sunday–they are interviewing Terry live from Omaha.

    This must be the, what, 6th or 7th time Terry's been on national TV pnews this year?

  12. One Out In The Third says:

    Didn't even have to think about it…Nebraska Politician of the Year…

    Kenny Rogert…Boat Dealer/State Senator.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I'll give you a little news that the OWH won't cover. The so called "Shane Baggage" isn't as bad as you think. He was awarded sole custody of his three kids.

  14. pol observer says:

    I heard Jim Suttle is running for Senate in 2012. He will be another Omaha recalled mayor running for statewide office!!!! lol

  15. One Out In The Third says:

    anon 8:10 to Yuma…

    It's also been reported that Osborn will not run for re-election so he can spend more time with his family. I don't know how the almighty Rushshshsh missed that pearl.

  16. Right Wing Professor says:

    Don Walton, who's been shamelessly carrying water for socialized health care, has a piece this evening saying that Nebraska 'religious leaders' say the abortion restrictions in Reid's health care bill are A-OK.

    The 'religious leaders'? A couple of SJs, a nun, Paul Olson of Nebraskans for Peace (dunno how he got to be a religious leader) and the usual suspects.

    It's pretty flimsy cover. I doubt it will be enough.

  17. Nathan says:

    My point about Pete Ricketts was sarcasm. I think he would get his bell rung again by Ben Nelson, which as a Dem is why I hope he is nominated against him.

  18. Former Democrat says:

    As a Former Democrat who is now an independent because of the so called fiscal conservative Senator Nelson. I am ready to help work to get him out of office. He thought of the D assigned to him before he thought about what this will do to the state of Nebraska. Get ready for even more taxes and even more rationed health care with this bill. People if you think everyone will now be covered and will have immediate access to health care you will be sadly dissappointed. I am ashamed that the Democrat Party was taken over by the extreme left.

  19. heartbroken says:

    Bob Kerrey did it to us in the Clinton years, and now Ben Nelson is doing it to us in the Obama years.

    When will Nebraskans learn not to send "good non-partisian" Democrats to the Governor's office, and then then Capitol Hill?

    Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice….

  20. Chuck says:

    As a Former Republican who became an independent because of the party's inclination to nominate dunces instead of conservatives for Senator, and to take orders from Washington instead of Nebraska, I'll be happy to work for any real conservative the Republicans want to put up against Nelson. That doesn't include one-note Charlies like Stenberg, whose defense of Nebraska's anti-abortion law to the Supreme Court consisted of "why, just because we codfied the no-exeptions clause into public law doesn't mean we'd actually enforce it!" It also doesn't include Ricketts, whose underlying campaign was one of having zero interest in public service until he was rich enough to buy a Senate seat, and whose father showed his true conservative principles by closing down a gun store location in deference to PayPal's demands. If the Republican Party wants Nelson's seat, whether he runs or not, they'll need to put forward somebody like Bruning, Heineman, or Shane Osborn, all of whom have shown the ability to get things done in public office without compromising their conservative principles. If they want my support and vote (for their candidate, not the party — too many Scozzafava's), then they'll need to provide a candidate who will fight hard to roll back big, intrusive federal government. If that's too big a request, then my vote and support can always go elsewhere — or stay at home!

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