The PotY goes to Brad Ashford, for finally figuring out that he was never really a Republican.
Ha! We kid! We kid! Well, on the PotY part, anyway…
Back in February of this year, TIME Magazine (remember when TIME was a big deal each week? Alas…) had a list of 40 rising stars in American politics, under the age of 40.
Featured along with 39 others was the 35 year old Speaker of the Nebraska legislature (and that really lame “art” sketch).
But it is one thing to hope big things for someone, and a whole ‘nother to actually step onto the stage and do something.
Mike Flood did that, and is the Leavenworth Street Nebraska Politician of the Year.
TIME noted that Flood lives by a motto of “Negotiate or Perish” (or something to that effect), but little did they know that Flood would lead the negotiations for two of the biggest agreements in the state in 2011. First he lead the efforts to fix the Commission on Industrial Relations.
And then later, with the state and much of the country watching, he spearheaded the negotiations for an agreement on the Keystone XL Pipeline. On the CIR, people point to many who worked out the issues, but give Flood much of the credit for pushing it through. In the case of the pipeline however, Flood essentially had the issue dumped in his lap and had to get the parties to come to an amicable solution.
Everyone seemed to know what a solution could be, but no one was willing to go there until Flood banged it together. Flood not only lead them to water, but he got them to drink it as well.
That earns him the 2011 PotY.
We have already noted that Flood would be wise to strike politically while his iron is hot. What are his plans and ambitions for 2012? We wait to see how many clever ways we can use his name in a headline.
Others deserving an Honorable Mention this year?
We had quite a few who threw accolades on state Senator Scott Lautenbaugh for deftly drawing up the Congressional redistricting maps to keep the state Red (so to speak) for years to come.
And we had suggestions for both Democrats Jim Suttle and Jane Kleeb.
But we would mention a few notes on those two who were so much in the news.
Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle deserves some credit for beating back a recall effort against him. But many would argue that it was a half-hearted effort, poorly organized and not exactly well-thought-out.
And then there is the eternal stain that Suttle and his camp received by busing homeless people from shelters and paying them to vote for Suttle. Frankly, that is still such a disgusting move that no one should forgive him or his people for it. It took a public outcry before Suttle would apologize, yet still try to claim that nothing was wrong.
Nonetheless, he prevailed in a poorly turned-out election. And while maybe not a street, at least he got a tax named for himself.
And then there is Jane Kleeb. She of the beanie babies, foam fingers, bumper stickers and flashlights against the Keystone XL Pipeline. As we pointed out many, many, many times, her refrain was continually about the Sandhills and Aquifer and a guy outside of Lincoln named Randy. Yet none — NONE — of these things ever really mattered to Jane and her cronies. Their only objective has been to stop the development of the Canadian Tar Sands Oil because of their global warming beliefs.
The fact that the original pipeline route went over the Sandhills was just a boon for her plan to fight the pipe one and the oil way or another. Note that after the compromise was reached to move it, she still declared her fight against it would continue. And that is because she simply used things like the Sandhills and people like Randy to accomplish her goal of supporting her radical enviro buddies from her DC days.
So did Jane win the fight? Well, we don’t really know yet. If the President signs the OK for the pipe — enabling conflict-free oil to flow in a time when conflict is at the top of the news; enabling thousands of jobs in a time when unemployment has continued to be at the top of the news — the answer is an emphatic NO.
And even if the President vetos the pipeline, it would likely be only until after the election, and the thing would still likely get built either under his or Mitt Romney’s eye.
Or, if the pipeline to Texas DOESN’T get built, guess where that oil goes? China.
So give Jane credit for this: she did help one industry succeed in Nebraska — the foam finger business. Which are made from petroleum byproducts. Not windmills.
Others you would like to mention? Have at it.
In any case, we can’t wait to start saying twenty-twelve. Has a nice ring to it.
See you next year.
And because someone asked (and apparently this falls somewhere in the 12 days of Festivus…) here are past winners of the Leavenworth Street Nebraska Politician of the Year:
2006 – Dave Heineman
2007 – Jon Bruning
2008 – The David Sokol Cabal
2009 – Ben Nelson
2010 – Dave Heineman and Lee Terry