Game of chicken between Dave and Ben

By now you have seen the stories.

The latest (according to Politico) is the the national Dems are coming down hard on Ben Nelson to run again in 2012. The White House, the Senate and anyone else with a “D” in parenthesis after their name is giving Nelson the diamond-hard sell.

And then there is the NRSC working hard to woo Governor Dave Heineman to run for Senate. And though his answer was an unequivocal “No” not that long ago, now…he’s back to thinking about it.

To those in the know, this is a surprise, but not a shock. Heineman was always the top choice and the best bet to take on Nelson. Things have…changed a bit in the past few months, and the national Dems and GOPers are looking hard at Nebraska to be the state that flips or keeps the seat on one side of the aisle or the other.

So when Heineman told the New York Times former Nebraskan reporter Jeff Zeleny last week…

“I told them ‘no’ up until now,” Mr. Heineman said. “They keep calling, I keep listening.”

“It would take a lot to change my mind, but their argument is persuasive,” Mr. Heineman said. “They say, ‘Hey look, you can make a difference for the country.’ I went to West Point and served in the Army, so that’s appealing to me, but I like Nebraska and I like being the governor compared to being a United States senator.”

…a bit of a whoop went through the political crowd watching this race. Sort of like when you would be at a Husker game and see that Oklahoma was losing their game late in the fourth quarter. A heavy murmur, as it were.

But here’s the funny thing here:
Ben Nelson has said he will make his decision within the next three weeks or so.
Heineman has said he could wait until February to make his call.

So let us assume, for the sake of the argument, that Heineman only wants to run…if he HAS to. In other words, if Nelson does NOT run, many think that Governor Dave will not either.

But if Nelson DOES decide to run, then Heineman will take a much harder look at it, possibly finally pulling the trigger.

BUT! Nelson may not want to run at all. But if he does run, he wants to be pretty confident that he can win. If he runs against Governor Dave, his chances go waaaaaaayyy down. So if he has an inkling that Heineman will definitely get in, if he runs — well then he may just decide to hang it up.

But if he decides not to run, then Heineman doesn’t run… well then, dammit! Could he change his mind at that point? Wouldn’t seem likely (but geez, who knows).

So what this turns into is a game of high-stakes chicken — with the U.S. Senate on the line. Who veers to the right first? Or, in the “Rebel Without a Cause” version, who goes soaring off the cliff?


And we may as well get into it now, but what IF Heineman gets into the GOP Primary? What of the other candidates? Some commenters have weighed in here already.

We tend to agree with those who think Deb Fischer would probably drop out at that point. Just a guess, but that is our guess.

Now the other two candidates are just a bit different. Many had figured that Bruning’s real desire was to be Governor first anyway. It could possibly give him an out to run against Lt. Gov. — and then in theory, sitting Gov — Rick Sheehy, assuming it came to that. Or against Sheehy and Speaker Mike Flood! But would Bruning drop out altogether? Geez, he already made that move for Mike Johanns when Johanns ran for Senate.

We will watch Bruning cross that bridge when he comes to it, but the real wild-card would be Don Stenberg. The way Stenberg has been gobbling up national Tea Party endorsements lately, we just wouldn’t see him dropping out. Would Stenberg be willing to take one for the team and let Heineman have it? Would he be willing to lose ANOTHER race?

We dunno, but there are layers upon layers of intrigue here.

Hey, and while we are at it, WHO would the Dems put up?
Tony Raimondo? Anne Boyle? Some strange resurrection of Bob “The Bridge” Kerrey?

The mind boggles here.

But it all — much of it anyway — will be based on Nelson decision in a few weeks. Oh, and just about every single national Democrat will be harping on him to run. After having spent a couple million on free ads for him the past few months, to boot.

As Judge Smails said


And while we are at it, State Treasurer (wait, State what?) Don Stenberg put out another ad. Well, actually the Tea Party guys put out an ad for him. See it here:

And you’re saying to yourself, Why in the world is Don Stenberg referencing the 1936 Olympics?

Well, because Jesse Owens was the star of those Olympics. And Don was a track star in his own right. Thus, the immediate Leavenworth Street Separated at Birth!

You’re welcome.


And speaking of only 19 more shopping days until Ben Nelson’s decision…how about you avoid some slaphappy mall rat sliding into your car in the mall parking lot? Slopping through the slush. Fighting shoulder to shoulder to get some counter attendant’s attention. (Shuuuuuuder!)

Here is a better idea: Click on one of the links here on and do your shopping whilst there on your butt. No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem! And by going through Leavenworth Street, you send a little love back Leavenworth Street’s way — at no extra cost! Can’t do that at the mall.

It is a wonderful time to be alive.


  1. SoWhat??? says:

    Governor Dave must be keeping his options open for a US Senate run against the Benator. What else explains his flip-flop on the KeystoneXL other than pandering to western NE residents who always feel ignored in Lincolngrad?

  2. Oh boy.. says:

    I really feel dizzy after reading that article…sure hope someone makes a decision soon so the other someone can make his decision so the other someones can make theirs if need be. Can someone get me some aspiriin?

  3. Lizzie says:

    As I mentioned the other day. Gov Dave wants to be courted and begged because it makes him feel loved and important. And there is nothing more important than him. I am so not impressed with David Heinemann after the KXL debacle. That wasn’t leadership, folks, that was simply an investment in Dave’s future.

    I think he’s looking for a cabinet position under Romney, Ag or State. Probably State since he brought up that he went to West Point and likes to be the boss of something “I like being Governor (where I can boss around a whole state and screw up commerce and jobs and get the attention of the international community) compared to being (just) a United States Senator (where I am only one of the crowd and really can’t get any individual attention unless I kiss the president’s healthcare-debacle behind like benji).”

    If “conservative” means “Concerned only about promoting my sorry-*** self” then, yeah, I guess Gov. Dave is one.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Can’t imagine a guy who likes to make decisions would want to run for a job where he is going to have to work “with” others. Street you for got to throw in the twist of holding out for a V.P. bid with Romney. So its be a Gov, or be a Senator, or maybe even be the conservative on the mod R ticket:-) a bird in the hand comes to mind…………. The Gov has a great job and would win the Senate race but at his age will he lean out and stretch himself for VP? I for one hope he goes for the VP NOD, but by the. The Senate gig is up what will he do?

  5. Macdaddy says:

    I’m with Lizzie. I’m not impressed with Heineman either. I’ll certainly vote for him over Nelson, but the primary is a different story.

  6. It’s a sad state of affairs when neither the Republicans nor the Democrats in this state are too thrilled with their party’s best possible candidate for the 2012 Senate seat. It is very much like the 2012 Presidential race – many Democrats have been let down by the “hope” and “change” offered by President Obama in 2008, and the Republicans have to pretty much choose which bozo is least offensive to them.
    I feel like I am living out the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

  7. Anonymous says:

    This “Heineman for VP” talk is ridiculous. Someone please explain what the 2012 GOP nominee would have to gain by adding Heineman to the ticket. A boost in the middle-aged white Midwestern male demographic?

  8. Kortezzi says:

    Perhaps Governor Dave’s decision date (February) is deferred until after it will become clearer whether Mitt Romney still appears to be the inevitable GOP nominee against Obama.

    If it is, then he’s got the inside track on a Romney cabinet post. And he won’t run for Senate.

    But if that’s still uncertain by February, maybe that tips Dave in the direction of a late bid for the Senate.

  9. NE Voter says:

    Anonymous 9:38

    Well, there you go again, making my day by popping out the ludicrous suggestion that Tinyman is on anyone’s VP list. Romney’s not even going to win his home states of Massachussets and Michigan — What does Tiny bring in terms of EVs? Nada that the GOP candidate is going to get anyway (4 or 5 EVs in NE).

    I think Tiny wants the Senate seat Of course, a cabinet position has some appeal, though he wouldn’t qualify for anything higher than Ag (State, Lizzie? For a guy who’s international experience consists of a handful of trade missions that involve little more than glad-handing and a–kissing?!).

    The Nebraska GOP Senate field is as poor as the presidential field. I’m not at all surprised that the national Goopers are pressuring Tiny to get in. The best part is that it would essentially end Bruning’s political career as Flood’s star is rising and, in view of Bruning’s capitulation to Johanns (who would have crushed him anyway), Bruning will have cemented his reputation as the eternal bridesmaid.

  10. Lizzie says:

    Yes, NEV, I know Gov Dave is unqualified, especially for State. But he’s got a huge head buzz going because he made a giant international corporation bend to his iron will. Plus, I was taking his vaunted, self-perspective, not my own. Which, as you know, is a lower and more realistic perspective of the governor.

    I wish I had a dollar for every conservative I have heard holler over the KXL debacle: “I don’t UNDERSTAND what the governor is DOING!” I would definitely have enough jingle to Christmas shop Sweep’s Amazon site.

    People are basically flummoxed, and it has made everybody suspicious of the Gov’s motives. Welcome to the result of shortsighted self promotion, Gov Dave. Why – it’s “The Land of Unintended Consequences!”

  11. Dennis says:

    Bruning wouldn’t drop out if Heineman threw his hat in the ring because that would mark the end of his political aspirations. Dropping out of a Senate race on two different occasions would forever brand Bruning as a coward. If Governor Dave jumped in the race, both Bruning and Heineman would both have to go nuclear in order to win. It would be a campaign for the ages that would delight Nelson and the Democrats.

  12. To Dennis says:

    If Bruning dropped out immediately and endorsed Heineman, Jon would suffer no negatives. In fact he may polish his image of being a team player and not using his past “scorched earth” practices (remember the “Bush’s Lapdog comment made against Johanns). The problem for Jon is he is a second tier candidate running against 2 3rd tier candidates and now the 1st tier candidate is going to steal the show.

  13. Lizzie says:

    #11 – after reading about Janiepant’s “awesome” testimony at the cong committee hearings, I am sure it would be a laugh a minute if she ever did run for higher office.

    “I am reserving the balance of my time Ms. Kleeb.”

    We’d be hearing that A LOT.

  14. Lizzie says:

    Dang. I love the sound of it:

    “I am reserving the balance of my time Ms. Kleeb.”

    I think I’m going to bumper-sticker it and maybe even put it on a petroleum-based yard sign.

    Man, I bet she HATES that quote – may it go down forever in infamy.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Off topic, but this quote about Newt says all you need to know.
    ‘He’s a stupid man’s idea of what a smart person sounds like.’

  16. RWP says:

    I didn’t think I was stupid, and Newt sounds pretty smart to me. Whatever his vices, stupidity isn’t one.

    I’d say the quote is better applied to Barack. I’ve seen so many students of his type; superficially articulate, but mostly adept at stringing together a series of intelligent sounding phrases, with no real insight on their meaning. it’s particularly easy to do with from a teleprompter.

  17. Some Thoughts says:

    Professor, normally I’d say nitpicking is silly, but if you’re going to comment on the relative stupidity of other people, please don’t abuse the semicolon in the process.

    Of course Nelson is running. Why on earth wouldn’t he run, when the GOP is so disappointed with their own field of candidates that they desperately want Heineman to run, even in this full-blooded Red state? Heineman can beat Nelson easily, I’m sure, but the other three will have a harder row to hoe. Deb is my pick, of course, but it seems that the Republicans either don’t know who she is or haven’t been inspired by her. The bad NE Senate field almost parallels the bad GOP Presidential field. Where are all the better candidates? It’s frustrating.

  18. Lizzie says:

    Ah, yes Gerard – I’ve seen it a lot too. The pseudo-ntellectualism of the young. Most of us outgrow it and are appropriately embarrassed by the memory of it. You’re right; the Commander in Chief has it in spades; but that is because he is arrested at an emotional/intellectual age that doesn’t even reach undergrad, much less doctorate level.

    Another fine example of above-mentioned arrested development and pseudointellectualism is, of course, the Janester. With a HUGE emphasis on the “pseudo.”

  19. Anonymous says:

    So maybe the Gov runs for Senate and then accepts a post within the cabinet thereby allowing the newly minted Gov Sheehy to appoint Flood as the replacement. This is as plausible as any other scenario presented to date:)

  20. Anonymous says:

    Dennis- you poor soul, all you can see is what you want. The reality is any of the top 3 GOP candidates in the race beat the old wind back, cornhusker kickback. We are lucky to have yet another candidate you would whip the gas bag too. But you go on and keep on believing in the old mare……. just means less money needed to be spent against the Healthcare lover, and killer of Medicare.

  21. Anonymostly says:

    Lizzie, the reason the Prez’s development has been arrested at such a low level is that he was never challenged or tested. The reason he’s not a deep thinker is because no one ever made him challenge his assumptions or engage in any deep introspection. In 2008, he has no foreign policy credentials, so he takes a two-week junket to Egypt and the press thereafter treats him like he’s a foreign policy wonk. He does little more than sleep in a Holiday Inn Express in Cairo and suddenly he’s treated like an expert on Egypt. Hard to build much intellectual depth when people applaud you for being merely adequate. At a certain point in most of our lives, our parents stopped praising us for merely putting our pee-pees in the potty. Intellectually, I don’t think Obama has ever gotten past that level.

  22. Macdaddy says:

    Anon 7:42: Governor Perry has to deal regularly with this tiny, little country called Mexico, Newt Gingrich was this insignificant thing called Speaker of the House and in his post-Congressional career has been consulted by numerous government agencies about foreign policy issues, even Ron Paul, the infamous isolationist, sits on the House Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade, oh, along with Michelle Bachmann. Wait, did you mean who sat around foreign capitals drinking tea and going to parties?

  23. Anonymous says:

    Read your constitution, MacDaddy. States do not conduct foreign policy, so don’t try assigning any foreign policy cred to Perry. The guy has been shown to be a certifiable idiot, though qualified to be governor of Texas.

  24. Ernie who? says:

    Ernie Chambers is a legend in his own mind. He is a blow hard, racist, and a liar. He doesn’t live in his district, and everybody knows it to include Paul Hammel of the Omaha Worthless Herald. PH tried to bait others into making an issue our of where Chambers lives because he doesn’t have the stones to do investigative reporting. Maybe the reporter Joe Jordan will do some reporting. Hell Chambers does more shopping in Bellevue than he does in “his” district! No one wants to see him in Lincoln, not the Senators the lobby, not anybody. Then again who has the stones to call him out on it anyway? Besides Senator Council will beat him. She has the audacity to live in her district. Not to mention she gets things done, which Chambers just couldn’t seem to do. Not too mention his dirty dog peeing all over the floors in the Capitol. Why they had to tear up the carpet in his office as it was not cleanable.

    Nope Chambers is not going to be elected to much else in this state. All one would have to do is point to the years he had in office and the situation in his district. With that track record who would want him in any office. Maybe there is something for him in San Francisco?

  25. Icon says:

    One question; Haven’t you GOPERS F’ed AMERICA up enough already?? There is only one person qualified to be POTUS,


  26. Anonymous says:

    ICON- Paul could barely make it across the stage at the last debate, how is he going to lead if he is physically decrepit? Of course a morally and intellectual decrepit is in office now…….

  27. TexasAnnie says:

    Ron Paul is preferable to Newt! And Governor Perry is not intelligent enough to be president, although “qualified,” according to the Constitution of the United States.

    And my, my…what provocative gossip about Ernie Chambers above! I observed the man and the entire Unicameral closely during my years in Nebraska. I do not believe Chambers is a trustworthy man and I did not like him. Do you think he will run for the legislature again?

    My impression is that John Huntsman would be the best GOP presidential candidate, after watching most of the presidential debates thus far. But, he can’t get the nomination, it’s clear. I like Ron Paul as well as Huntsman, but I agree that Ron Paul is past his prime. Finally, I regret that when Herman Cain went down, he took with him an idea of tax reform.

  28. Some Thoughts says:

    “Some thoughts: you wouldn’t know a semicolon from half your lower intestine. Go punctuate yourself.”

    Tee hee! Don’t cry. I know you’re a smart guy, but even smart guys sometimes show their limits in the eagerness to call out others.

  29. Some Thoughts says:

    Heh heh, I like you, buddy, you entertain me! You said you are some kind of Harvard-educated smartie, is that right? Well, now we also know that you’re incredibly stubborn, can’t back down even from the most trivial poke, and aren’t quite as smart as you think you are. That’s okay, it’s all in good fun. Maybe I’m just ignorant, you never know.

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