With Attorney General Jon Bruning’s announcement of an “exploratory committee” for U.S. Senate run, we will look at who we think else has a chance.
Because, with $600,000 coming from his old 2008 Senate warchest, you have to think that Bruning is driving the candidate bus right now. Everyone else will be passengers who must wrest control from Bruning if they want the win.
So who are some of the potential riders?
Don is the next name everyone yells after Bruning. A former Attorney General himself, Stenberg has made no secret of his desire to use his current new post as State Treasurer as a step stool for a higher gig — Governor or Senator.
But did you know that Stenberg has run — and lost — THREE Senate campaigns? Is he willing for this to be number four? Maybe he is. And maybe he thinks he can beat Bruning. But if we’re handicapping early (and, well, it looks like we are) we just don’t see GOP primary voters choosing Stenberg over Bruning.
Stranger things have happened, but…well. We will move on.
Fort is someone who you would think could pose a real challenge to Bruning. He is popular (in his District anyway), young, and could go hair to hair in any debate with Bruning.
But, does Fort have it in him? Bruning is known to be such a hard-core campaigner as to maybe be reckless. Can Fort compete with that? And can Fort raise the money needed for a statewide race? Bruning has done this statewide numerous times, including having a solid Omaha business base.
Fortenberry is not known to be a solid fundraiser and may not have the stomach for a statewide race. Not to mention, he may just be comfortable and satisfied (for now) with his House gig. He will be in the majority now and can enjoy some of the benefits that go with that.
So we will guess right now that Fort wouldn’t get it, but still wouldn’t put it past him, and wouldn’t count him out. Hedging our bets? Bets hedged.
Pete seems like the next most logical candidate, considering he took on Nelson last time, and has kept himself very much involved in Nebraska politics.
He formed the Platte Institute think tank, the Plains State Legal Foundation and funds Nebraska Watchdog. He is the state National Committeeman. And, oh yeah, he is an owner of the Chicago Cubs. And John Bruning’s $600K does not scare away Pete Ricketts.
But, a question would be whether Pete really wants to take on Ben Nelson again. That was a hard, big loss, and polling may not show that Pete could have success this time against Nelson.
Now, suppose Nelson decides to hang it up? That would be a whole ‘nother ballgame.
And a ballgame the Cubs could win (so to speak).
Pete is the kind of candidate who could bide his time to see the way things shake out, and potentially ride in as a saviour. Count Pete out of the Senate race at your peril.
Now all that being said, Ricketts may have decided he isn’t interested in the Senate. Heck Dave Heineman just showed that even if he could slam dunk the job, he wasn’t interested.
Besides, there are 100 Senators, but only 50…Governors.
And with Heineman staying in until 2014, that means Rick Sheehy won’t get to sit in the Governor’s McMansion for two years before a run. If Pete is more interested in being Governor, Heineman’s decision just made it a better race for him
After thinking about it a bit, we are a little more convinced that State Auditor Mike Foley could be interested/have a shot.
Think about a few things: Whenever Foley makes ANY statement these days, it makes headlines. He has been the state watchdog who goes hunting and shakes things up at every turn. If Foley is in the news, you just hope it isn’t your doorstep he has stopped at.
And Nebraskans dig the good-government, no-nonsense types. He is not flashy but gets (at least by all appearances) the job done.
He is also a statewide office holder and has some decent name ID.
Now an interesting thing about Foley is that he is part of the so-called “3F Catholic Mafia” of Fortenberry-Foley-(Tony) Fulton. The three have been known to put their political heads together on various issues, and generally support each other as well.
So if Fort gets in, we would be very surprised if Foley did as well. Or vice versa. But one would presumably have the support of the other, and everything else they could throw in.
And level headed calm Foley could presumably be a foil to the more brash Bruning. There could be interesting maneuvering. But then again, we have no idea if Foley is even interested.
But, right now, we will say this: If it is a multi-person primary (at tis point), Bruning would get our bet. He is organized. Has solid financials (and presumably David Sokol) behind him. And he will be a tough campaigner.
Oh, and he can beat Ben Nelson.
And some who we would guess will not run?
As much as we are guessing he would rather run every six years instead of every two, we think Terry will enjoy moving up the ranks in the House.
After jumping out of politics, and dealing with personal issues, it is probably too early for this big of a jump for Shane.
Waiting for Governor Dave to leave.
Out of the limelight too long?
Doubt that he is interested. Could be involved in candidate negotiations. But you never know.
**Update** While if Hal got in he would be an outstanding Senator, it is now our understanding that he probably isn’t interested in this gig right now.
Weigh in folks! It’s the rough and tumble world of intra-party politics!