Makings of a race?

Lots to talk about…

First, let’s hit the numbers game.

GOP Senate candidate, Deb Fischer announces first that she has come in with $228,000 for the quarter. Robynn Tysver of the OWH announces

Fischer’s numbers put her on the board in Nebraska’s GOP U.S. Senate race.

A few hours later Jon Bruning announces that he has more than doubled Fischer, taking in $583,000.

(And what was with the photo choice of Johanns standing behind Bruning?)

The thing about money in Senate races like this is, money begets money. The more you can raise, the more others will see what you’ve got and then want to give you. The fact that Jon Bruning has been at this much longer than Deb Fischer also helps him in this endeavor.

But we are going to look at this from the one other angle we haven’t heard from: Don Stenberg. Stenberg has been pulling in a number of national endorsements lately, and one would assume there are going to be quite a few checks associated with them. We are looking forward to Stenberg’s numbers to see what he has raised, (and what he has in the bank).

The funny thing about this race is that there are three potentially strong candidates. As we have said before, GOP voters are probably, in the long run, happy with any of them — as long as they can beat Ben Nelson.

Electability is going to go a looong way in this race, so while Bruning is the clear front-runner now, the undecideds out there have the potential to sway this one way or another.

For Deb Fischer to be straight-up competitive with Bruning, a much stronger quarter would have been expected. But we just aren’t sure this is going to be a “straight-up” race. There are going to be a few more twists and turns. There may have been a time when Fischer’s funds would not have made her competitive. We think this may be a different campaign.

And FWIW, Ben Nelson seems to agree as he swings away at all three candidates in his most recent ad.

Stenberg’s report is due by October 15th, and we hope to have more insight by then.


Onto the one everyone else has their eyes on.

And by “everyone”, we mean the New York Times (which we hinted at last last week),  Washington Post and every political PAC which would like to spend all they want on a candidate and call it an “issue” ad.

As we mentioned before, Ben Nelson’s recent spate of ads received the attention of the Nebraska GOP, as the money has come from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — and not even from the Nebraska Democrat party as the ads would like you to believe. The rules state the max that can be spent on a candidate by an outside group is a little over $200K. The ads have cost closer to $700K.

But Nelson claims that these aren’t campaign ads, but instead are “issue” ads, that he just happens to appear in. You know, with him speaking to the camera. And with his name in giant bold letters behind him. “Approved” by him.

How any oversight org can look at that and determine that it isn’t a campaign ad is beyond us, but the lawyers at this point feel like ol’ Nellie may be in the clear.

But guess what? If he is, then the floodgates have opened wide for groups like American Crossroads to fly in with their own “issue” ads featuring candidates themselves. And everyone will simply point back to Ben Nelson and his “Skunk” ads, knowing where they smelled it before.

The Dems may have discovered that they were a little too crafty on this (if successful), possibly regretting it in the end. But mainly it just shows that all that campaigning law stuff is just a farce.

Somebody oughta protest over it, or somethin’.

By the way, nice quote from Nelson’s campaign manager, Paul Johnson:

“Nebraska Democrats don’t expect a lap dog,” Johnson said. “One of the things that we admire is his independence.”

Uh, last time we checked, Johnson lives in Shreveport, Louisiana with his family. Interesting “we” he is throwing out there.

Oh, and last time we also checked, Nelson was in Obama’s lap for votes on ObamaCare, the Stimulus and liberal Justice Sotomayor. Of course that was before he was up for re-election…


The pipeliners — pro and anti — are still battling it out in the northern and sandy areas of the state.

The pros have one other TV ad we hadn’t shown, so here it is:

Mayor Bill Sheele – Steele City, Nebraska from NEJobsAndEnergy on Vimeo.

And then the OWH printed OpEds from each side the other day. The pro side pointed out that the anti side continually demagogues the issues, spouting half-truths, lies and confusion to rile up the masses into a giant NIMBY ball.

And then the anti side’s guy came out, in the fifth sentence and did just that. George Ayoub of the Grand Island Independent said…

The Ogallala Aquifer is a vast underground sea…

A vast underground sea?

He then threw out half-heartedly the Wikipedia definition of the aquifer as a “shallow water table”. But trust us, the whole underground ocean idea — some kind of giant water cooler, bubbling just below the surface of the sand — is what the leftist are still trying to sell. They continue talking about an oil leak “polluting the whole aquifer”, and then the discussion veers off into the “our water is just too precious!” nonsense.

No one — NO ONE — has disputed what UNL hydrogeologist Jim Goeke has said — that any spill would be extremely localized, and couldn’t flow “through the aquifer” because the aquifer is made up of rock and sediment, first of all. It’s not some tank of water. And secondly, it flows northwest to southeast — so anything “upstream” can’t be physically touched.

Wait, what was that? Sorry, I was just looking at the shiny “Baby wipes, not oil pipes!” sign. It’s got a really cute crying baby on it, and the baby stepped in oil. That poor baby. So what was that about the oil in the ocean of water?

More or less.


  1. Macdaddy says:

    Baby wipes require oil.

    Sweeper, it’s been impressive how you’ve brought daily pieces that are fresh and substantial. Wouldn’t have thought that was possible in little ol’ Nebraska over a year before the next election. I do appreciate your attempts (however futile) to keep the other side honest. Like my wife always said, “That dirty diaper isn’t going to change itself.”

  2. Lizzie says:

    Oh the irony!

    Article at the LJS online headlined: “Nebraska conference to focus on providing food, fuel”

    …and goes on to say: “Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale will host a conference to address the challenges of providing food and fuel to the surging world population.”

    Except providing fuel that comes through a pipeline. Not that fuel. Other fuel.

  3. Reginald Vel Johnson says:

    I think we will know more about the GOP Senate race when we can see where the money came from. If Fischer raised only $228K and it came from big-time DC bucks, she’s toast. She needs a good 70% of her $ to come from in-state….she needs name ID….the money will help get that name ID, but if she has vast statewide support, the endorsement of Nebraska neighbors and friends will do better than a 30 second commercial. I wouldn’t think her name ID in NE-1 or NE-2 is over 35%. Maybe over 50% in the 3rd…..should be an interesting one.

  4. Macdaddy says:

    Not to sound like a Sweeper toady or anything, but I have to agree that whoever the R’s nominate, I will have their bumper sticker on my car and a sign in my yard. I also agree with Reginald that it’s important where Fischer got her money from. I will be very surprised if more than 25% is from out of state. BTW, was she in FFA?

  5. Really says:

    Fischer raised $230k, big deal… After she starts paying the bills for the campaign I’m sure that number goes down considerably. The Fischer clones want us to believe this is a huge number…. It’s not. Radio/TV/Stickers/Staff all cost money and her $200k or $150cash on hand doesn’t get her there…. I’m sure Trost isn’t working for free.

  6. Macdaddy says:

    Matt Sak-whatever spent $25 grand and got 35% of the primary vote against Lee Terry. Granted, he didn’t win, but as a State Legislator, Fischer has an advantage that Matt didn’t have: a track record of electability. At this moment in electoral time, things are different. Conditions are perfect to Git R Done for very little money.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The Bruning folks are out en mass today. Bad enough he is pompous, but to have his peeps working the boards like this is pretty pathetic. I may not be a fan of Sen Fischer and all but at least she doesn’t seem to be taking the low road like Bruning and his toadies. Of course not all of the campaign staff for Bruning are toads, some are quite attractive, never the less to pull stunts like this brings back memories of the Ricketts campaign and we all see how that campaign manager did for the candidate!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Off topic, but to show how far off in bozo land most of you posters reside, Time released a new poll showing 54% view the Occupy Wall Street protest favorably, 23% do not and another 23% have no opinion. Only 27% have a favorable view of the Tea Party. And a bonus, 52% of Republicans think taxes should be raised on those making more that $250K.

  9. George Ayoub says:

    The Ogallala Aquifer is a vast underground sea… I know because James Mason sailed a raft on it in Journey to the Center of the Oil Controversy.

    Listen to me. I know what I am talking about. I know because I feel I am right.

  10. Douglas Co. Democrat says:

    Some of us Omaha Democrats got together at Clancy’s last night and have come to the decision that we will be supporting anyone that runs against Sen. Nelson other than Jon Bruning or Don Stenberg.
    Unless our party can come up with a candidate to face Nelson in a primary, one that isn’t just another of Sen. Nelson’s close personal friends, like Tony Raimondo or Kim Robak, we are willing to support a Republican so long as it isn’t Jon Bruning or Don Stenberg.
    Nelson, voting against the President’s jobs bill, has put the final straw on the camel’s back. We will never hold our noses and work for him, or vote for him, again. All of us agreed that we would support Ms. Fischer with our time and our money should she emerge as the candidate to face Nelson in 2012. If it is anyone else, we have agreed to just sit this one out.

  11. Not a Bruning intern says:

    I’m not sure why people think a former party chairman from Omaha who ran for Senate without ever having help public office is a good comparison to a rancher from Valentine who serves as a state senator.

    Fischer is already polling at 14% without spending a dime. Kramer only got 13% of the pie after spending $750,000. This is a different ball game.

  12. A real Nebraskan says:

    Look at it this way, you can get someone that has proven to represent the people of Nebraska and is supported by their $228,000, or you can get someone that has proven to represent out-of-state interests and is supported by their $583,000. Real Nebraskans know the difference. Elections are won by votes, not dollars.

  13. Disillusioned Lincoln Democrats says:

    @ Douglas Co. Democrat: The feeling is mutual. Except that our group would vote for Stenberg, too.

    It’s laughable that the current Members of Congress think they should be re-elected given the lousy state of American affairs. It hasn’t been plumbers, librarians, teachers or small-business receptionists who have caused our collective decline. It’s politicians. Ones who hold power as we speak. They need to go. Period.

    So any and all incumbents should be voted out and challengers should be given a chance; they, at least, have not yet proven themselves to be incompetent, hyper-partisan and tethered to corporate lobbyists who really run this country.

  14. Anon says:

    How about a listing of who works for who, re: Senate races? Could be illuminating. Oh, and keep up the good work Sweeps. This is THE happening blog for NE politics. New posts everyday, lots of fun.

  15. Ivy Harper says:

    With respect to where Contributions (“Receipts” in FEC parlance) come from, this calls for another chapter in: The Way Washington Works.

    Although the FEC has proven itself to be woefully ineffective, it does, nonetheless, force incumbent politicians and candidates alike to paint a picture (albeit an impressionistic one) of their modus operandi.

    Senator Ben Nelson’s 2012 “unofficial” campaign has drawn a not-so-pretty political portrait that, for the sake of accuracy, let’s just call “The Arrogance of Power.”

    His FEC reports reveal that he is in Fact, not a Nebraska Senator so much as he is a National Senator.

    The great majority of Senator Nelson’s contributions come from out-of-state individuals connected to private equity funds, insurance, health care, banking, and law firms.

    Goodness, this is just a little list of places that send money to our Man from McCook: Paradise Valley, Arizona; Newbury Park, California; New York, New York; Hampton Beach, New Hampshire; and La Jolla, California etc.

    But in terms of logistics, one of the first things that happens once Senator Nelson’s Campaign Manager is hired at a salary of $12,500 dollars a month (except that in May, 2011, the Ragin Cajun received two checks for $12,500 just 21 days apart) is that Mr. Johnson starts jetting off to places like Thousand Oaks, California and Dallas where he stays in the fabulous Fairmont Hotel.

    Then, the Louisiana-living (seriously, what is it about our state that attracts so many Tigers) Mr. Johnson flies to Chicago where the Nelson campaign “disburses” nearly $1,000 to the University Club for an “event.” Then, he’s back in Washington, D.C. where, in the spate of a few weeks, thousands and thousands of dollars are “disbursed” to tony restaurants and D.C. law firms for “catering & staff time.”

    So massive is the amount of money spent on high-end, Democrat-owned “catering” if someone happened to be cynical about the system, one could say – judging just from FEC reports, mind you – that running for the U.S. Senate, as an Incumbent, is simply one big, coast-to-coast party.

    After all, the Status Quo has to be maintained somehow.

  16. Justice-Seeker says:

    Subject: Let us all speak up!

    Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:

    “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election

    The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only
    3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971…before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc.

    Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.

    Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

    In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

    Congressional Reform Act of 2011
    1. No Tenure / No Pension.
    A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

    2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
    All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

    3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

    4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

    5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

    6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

    7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen.
    Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

    If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message. Maybe it is time.


    If you agree with the above, pass it on. If not, just delete. You are one of my 20+.. Please keep it going.

  17. Dennis says:

    I don’t see any legal problems with this coordination. It’s apparent that the 5 member conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court led by C.J. Roberts will obliterate any remaining campaign finance restrictions. I also don’t see Nelson opening up some can of worms. If Nelson didn’t do it first, the GOP would have done it – they’re not afraid to push the envelope.

  18. Macdaddy says:

    Caught about 2 minutes of Deb Fischer on the Tom Becka show this afternoon. She sounded fairly intelligent, but she had to be led a little by Tom when it came to her views on Medicate reform. She needs to figure out what she thinks and then say it with conviction. If she needs help, just start watching clips of Marco Rubio. One other thing, in her answer to why people should vote for her, an answer that includes, “I understand that the taxpayers are my bosses and I need to show some fiscal responsibility. I’m not doing this to enrich myself.”

  19. Justice says:

    Don’t care for Warren but I agree with the post. Tired of politicians who are more concerned with protecting their pension and bennies for life than they are with legislating.

  20. TexasAnnie says:

    Of the three candidates, Deb Fischer I do not know.
    I met Jon Bruning while he “served” in the Unicameral, and I met Don Stenberg when he was Attorney General. In addition, I observed these men during these roles and observed them during successive elections. Neither is palatable, so pleeeze, Nebraskans, don’t send either to the U.S. Senate!

  21. Anonymous says:

    So last night I overheard a middle aged gentleman, with a Jewish background, say to a older fellow, of noredic lineage, “….. can you get me in touch with the Cain Campaign, I want to lend my support. The “other” (Romney/Gov) guy is asking me to a tend a fundraiser at $1000.00 a plate and I’m not doing that:-) ”

    This is something of note to actually hear 2 power brokers pulling for Cain. I got the very distinct feeling there was a mood of wanting to be on the Raising Cain Train. Just an interesting note.

  22. Lessons in Greed says:

    Please Google the lede article in today’s Huffington Post; it’s relevant to Nebraska’s U.S. Senate race given the leading candidates’ connection to Nebraska’s own predatory student loan company.

    “With Goldman’s (Sachs) Foray Into Higher Education, A Predatory Pursuit of Students and Revenues”

  23. Lizzie says:

    With the recent surge of Herman Cain; I would not discount a get ‘r done candidate like Ms. Fischer. Americans are pretty fed up with the political status quo of slick campaigners spending beau coup bucks wining and dining their way into office (thank you, Ivy, for more info). This is evidenced by Cain’s surprising quick rise in polling.

    If Deb Fischer is truly everything I’ve heard about her – and that is she is an effective and productive lawmaker – then I say watch out, her star may rise quickly. I’ll be sending a few of my hard earned dollars her way today. I think at the very least keeping her in the race will bring more honesty and transparency to the process.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Sweeper, re: the “shiny” objects reference that the Boldies like to tout. Jane calls these “actions”. I guess she can’t think of a better way to describe contrived astroturf events designed to grab media attention. Their latest is to get people to carve jack-o-lanterns and leave them at the Gov’s Mansion. They currently are trying to get people to leave “native” stuff at the Mansion, “flowers, food and water.” What? If she was running a Montessori School I might give Jane an “A” for creativity but the incessant attempt to grab the spotlight with “shiny objects” is just juvenile and beneath the landowners who really do harbor concerns about the pipeline. Is Dick Holland paying attention to any of this foolishness that he funds?

  25. Nate says:

    I liked the Steele City video. My family is from Fairbury, and we’d often drive to Steele City to eat at the Salty Dog Saloon. The food is simple but awesome. Get the super nachos. The place is also well-known among motorcycle enthusiasts in southeast Nebraska.

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