If Ben Nelson retires…

Before we dive into our conjecturist post today, let us have a little Separated at Birth, shall we?

Former Lieutenant Governor Kim Robak, and the 1986 version of Betty Crocker!


So why the Robak SAB today?

Well, we have been fishing around a bit on the rumors of Senator Ben Nelson choosing not to run for re-election next year.  And then who would go for the nomination.

(We should note that the rumor we originally heard was a primary challenge.  But that makes little to no sense.  Run to Nelson’s right, she can’t win the nomination.  Run to his left, she can’t win the general.   So we are instead looking at the retirement route.  In any case…)

Some refuse to believe that Nelson will not run.  Mainly because…

1) He is raising cash.
2) He has hired a campaign manager.
3) He is running commercials.
4) He is acting like a candidate.

And all of those things are true.

But consider…

5) We are little more than a year out and he has not said for sure whether he will run.
6) All of his ads so far have been paid for by the State Party / DSCC, even though he has tons of his own campaign cash.
7) All general signs still point to him losing.
8) Maybe 46% approval is a decent number — but is it a great number? A re-election in a Presidential year number?
9) Would Nelson roll the dice on the chance he goes out a loser?  Democrats Jim Exon and Eddie Zorinsky both went out winners (though Zorinsky, less by choice, as it were).  How does he want to be remembered?
10) Even Don Walton of the LJS keeps asking whether he will run.

All interesting points, yeah?

And then consider as a Democrat candidate, to replace Nelson, former Lieutenant Governor Kim Robak…

11) She was Ben Nelson’s Chief of Staff and his Lt. Gov — who better for him to hand off to.
12) If she is going for higher office, which she has said she wants to do, she would want a Federal office, as opposed to state office which would kill the current lobbying practice for her partners.
13) Her kids are all in college now.
14) She could be a good candidate against Jon Bruning, especially if he goes overboard and she stays calm.
15) As a woman, she would negate any advantage that Deb Fischer would have on that point.
16) She’s arguably better looking that Don Stenberg.

So for Ben Nelson, and Kim Robak and the Dems, what’s not to like in that scenario?


As Charlie Sheen might say, there’s the whole “#winning” part.

Nebraska Dems, Nelson included, may feel that their best hope is …still Ben Nelson.  A Kim Robak would, in theory, have to run to the RIGHT of Nelson in order to win.  So…

17) Would she vote to overturn ObamaCare?
18) Would she turn against the President and his stimuluses?
19) Would she vote against his liberal Supreme Court nominees?
20) Would she suddenly turn Pro-Life from her current Pro-Choice stance?

Maybe these aren’t issues that are totally insurmountable.  But in 2012, if Barack Obama is falling apart (especially in Nebraska), are you going to bet on that candidacy?

The Don Walton said the other day in his column:

If Nelson ultimately opts out, the Republican Senate primary contest in May will name Nebraska’s next U.S. senator.

And that could be the final answer on that point.


  1. Kortezzi says:

    That’s a picture perfect SAB. Yes, Kim Robak may have been around a while. But she’s no household name in Nebraska. Democrats who figure Ben Nelson would still be their strongest candidate are probably right, despite Ben’s baggage with the Kickback and Obamacare, and his tired-looking 72 years.

    Although Nelson may want to help Robak get a leg up on future offices, he won’t give way to her if it means leaving the impression he thought he’d lose if he DID run. I think he’s running.

    When is the World-Herald or Journal Star going to poll the Nebraska GOP senate candidates? The Bold Nebraska poll can’t be trusted, and the last national polls I saw on RealClearPolitics were from January – – been a lot of negative news on Bruning since then, not to mention Fischer’s entry in the race. Surely Don or Deb have closed much of the gap with Jon by now; I’d like to know how much.

    And so would the Benator!

  2. Transcanada Kickback says:

    The rumors of Dave Heineman turning on Transcanada because he’s gearing up for his Senate run are much more plausible.

  3. Dennis says:

    We’ve been hearing rumors on the Democratic side that Jon Bruning is under pressure to drop out of the Senate race in light of his numerous gaffes and financial issues. The word on the street is that it’s becoming pretty obvious to the NRSC that Bruning is a huge disappointment as a candidate so far.

  4. Macdaddy says:

    I said almost a year ago that Nelson wouldn’t run for re-election mainly because he knows he’s going to get his clock cleaned.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Dennis, had your comment come from anybody else it might carry some water but………

    I agree with Mac, been saying the same thing myself for a couple of months. Ben is taking fire, collecting some love for it ($) while they, the D’s, lay low in the weeds. Not sure if they are inhaling or not but……

    You know the Gov has got to be wondering and watching the poles to see if his horse is going to have a chance, if not expect him to pull a mea culpa and put his hat in the ring for Senate. IF he does decide to join, after reading the winds and looking for where the bodies are, then the rest of the field is out! Oh and the D’s know it so they will rewire the funding profile to Legislative races and out state money will stay out state for the most part…….

    Slow day here, must be the Betty Crocker SAB pic has everybody cooking:)

  6. RWP says:

    Ben Nelson just voted with the Democrat majority on the Appropriations Commiittee to block a Republican measure that would have prevented the NLRB from preventing companies relocating to right-to-work states, like Nebraska. So Ben chose labor unions over his own constituents.

    I can’t believe he’s running again. He’s racking up an incredible number of far left votes.

  7. Dennis says:

    Is Bruning a huge disappointment because he’s raised $2 million plus already or because he’s lapping the field in polling? If Fischer and Stenberg don’t outraise him this quarter (especially Deb, in her first quarter), they’re toast.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Ben is just soaking up the oxygen is all. He is working for something completely different than the Nebraska vote.

    This could be a ho hum race pretty soon or there may be a need to do a write in candidate…….. hmmm could Dave be that guy to ride in to save the day…….

  9. TexasAnnie says:

    C’mon, RWP! You know ‘Appropriations’ blocking of bills often do not reflect what they purport to address. And besides, your double negative sentence construction yields a premiss somewhat like this: ~~prevented the NLRB from ~right-to-work. What’s your point? Or should I be asking, what’s ~your point?

  10. TexasAnnie, I’m not an English major, but with that said, I think RWP’s point was pretty clear. Nebraska is a right-to-work state. Labor unions don’t like right-to-work states. A lot of companies do.

    By voting to block the measure, Nelson effectively endorsed union-run states over states like Nebraska. He voted against economic opportunity in what is purportedly his home state.

    A move like that leads me to believe he’s not planning on sticking around here much longer. Maybe he’s planning on bunking up with Bob Kerrey.

  11. Anonymostly says:

    Annie, it wasn’t a double negative.

    “I don’t want you to not do that” is a double negative.

    “I’m going to stop Jane from stopping Paul” is not a double negative.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Boeing’s CEO outright stated that they were moving to South Carolina because they were tired of union work stoppages in Washington. The CEO was either stupid or arrogant enough to say this out loud, and that is an illegal retaliation. If the CEO would have kept his mouth shut, the NRLB wouldn’t have become involved.

  13. RWP says:

    If you punch me, and I decide to have nothing to do with you in future, am I retaliating? No. To retaliate would be to punch you back. By avoiding you, i am simply exercising prudence.

    So if unions strike Boeing over and over and over again in Washington, and Boeing simply decides to locate a new production facility somewhere else where they won’t have to deal with such destructive behavior, that’s a prudent business decision, not retaliation. Retaliation would be firing their lazy union asses (which I’d be all for, but it’s unfortunately illegal).

  14. Anonymous says:

    RWP you’ve got some nerve calling someone else lazy. You’ve admitted that you don’t take outside funding for research, instead just researching what you’d like. (And why did UNL lose AAU accreditation?) How many classes do you teach? Do you teach any summer classes? And with tenure, no fear of losing your job. You seem to have plenty of time to post on this forum, your own blog and the LJS one, all the time earning a salary that is partly covered by my tax dollars. Based on my lifetime experience I’d say that you are lazier than 95% of all union workers.

    Seems to me that moving one’s job across the country is retaliation. Work stoppages cannot all be blamed on the union. Management is part of the equation, and Boeing’s had a long history of going out of their way to piss off the union.

  15. TexasAnnie says:

    Anonymostly: So your interpretation of RWP’s comment concerning Nelson’s vote is
    “I’m going to stop Jane (Republican measure) from stopping Paul (Natl. Labor Relations measure)?”
    That understanding is simple enough, until— you consider it’s gambit as an ‘Appropriations’ measure i.e. a taxpayer expenditure currently extracted under guise of JOBS creation/subsidy. When corporations lean on taxpayers, taxpayers, who always possess a right to unionize, properly exercise that right. Criticizing Nelson for his Appropriations vote is misplaced. RWP should be criticizing Nelson for working both sides of the fence: corporate subsidy + NLRB controls. But then, to be intellectually honest, he would in turn criticize “conservatives” who, with Nelson, would conserve the currently unfair tax system. Go Ron Paul! Go Herman Cain!

  16. RWP says:

    RWP you’ve got some nerve calling someone else lazy. You’ve admitted that you don’t take outside funding for research, instead just researching what you’d like.

    You can show me where in my letter of offer it says that’s a problem. Here’s Einstein’s record of external research funding…

    …impressive, huh?

    (And why did UNL lose AAU accreditation?)

    Oh yeah, that was my doing.

    How many classes do you teach?

    Look it up.

    Do you teach any summer classes?

    Nope. Don’t get any summer pay, either. But I do work as safety officer for the Chemistry department, all summer, for free. And I do research and teach graduate students, all summer, for free.

    And with tenure, no fear of losing your job. You seem to have plenty of time to post on this forum, your own blog and the LJS one, all the time earning a salary that is partly covered by my tax dollars.

    That’s because I’m an employee, not a slave. Deal with it.

    Based on my lifetime experience I’d say that you are lazier than 95% of all union workers.

    Your lifetime experience and $2.25 will buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks, oh anonymous coward.

  17. TexasAnnie says:

    Oh yeah, like your post directly above this to me is an exemplary exposition!
    Why do you and others here constantly ‘overlook’ all the corporate cost to American people?
    To my view, it’s at least as bad as people welfare…

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