All eyes on Fortenberry

The stupid Iowa caucuses are today (secret ballot? low turnout? pffftt!).

And you know somewhere in Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty is kicking a desk-side waste basket screaming, “Santorum?! Rick effing Santorum???!!!”

***

Don Walton threw a mention Leavenworth Street’s way yesterday (thanks Don) noting all the various names being thrown out if NE-1 Rep. Jeff Fortenberry decides to get in the Senate race: Speaker Mike Flood, NEGOP Chairman Mark Fahleson, state Senator Tony Fulton, Auditor Mike Foley, state Senator Chris Langemeier, just to name a few.

Expect those names to rise and fall faster than a second place Iowa Presidential candidate if Fortenberry throws his hat into the Senate ring.

Which begs the question: What will Fort do?

Heck Don Stenberg is ALREADY taking veiled shots at Fort on the Twitter:

My resolution for 2012: Fight the establishment & reclaim Nebraska’s Senate seat with a genuine, lifelong Nebraskan.

At first we were wondering why Stenberg was going after Bob Kerrey already.  But then we were nudged in the direction of the CD-1 to see what Don was getting at.

And frankly we were a bit taken aback. You hear the carpetbagger stuff from the Dems, but we surprised to hear that sort of hit from a fellow Republican. Fortenberry has a zillion votes you could choose from to criticize. To go after the “I was born in Nebraska and he wasn’t” seems a little…catty.

Like him or hate him, Fortenberry certainly paid his dues in Nebraska before asking to represent the state in Congress. And if nothing else, the voters agreed. But anything for an edge, we suppose.

***

In the mean time, Dems are waiting on the aforementioned Kerrey to make his call. We know Kerrey L-U-Vs the national attention he gets in these situtations. Calls from Lawrence O’Donnell, and the like, to measures Cosmic Bob’s orbit.

But we (and the majority of the national press) don’t see the 68 year old Kerrey pulling the trigger here.

Which makes things still fairly wide-open.

***

State Senator Scott Lautenbaugh is not wasting any time with his proposal for a new approach for the Omaha Public Schools board. Tomorrow he will be introducing this bill (linked).

Under his plan…

It will change the make-up of the OPS board, by taking it from a 12-member board to a five-member board. Further, it imposes term limits, and provides that the board members be paid. I believe this will create a board that is of a higher profile, more responsive to the need for change, and better equipped to give us the kind of district we need for our children.

It is a bad idea to underestimate Lautenbaugh.

***

Happy New Year!

42 comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Fort needs to stay put for a bit.
    Langemier would love to ru, but…………….
    Lautenbaugh’s plan for OPS is great to a point, why does the state feel the need to get in at the local level? Hasn’t McCoy, Fulton, Carlson, and a host of others stood on the floor and railed on and on about local control? Just asking.

  2. Local Control says:

    The problem with OPS is that local control has failed. Think of OPS as a failed bank. The government lets you keep your doors open so long as you follow the rules and meet minimum standards. OPS has failed consistently to meet standards and wastes hundreds of millions of state aid dollars. Its time to restructure this broken institution that wastes millions of tax dollars

  3. SoWhat??? says:

    The concept of Lautenbaugh’s proposal has a serious…and should be fatal…flaw, paying OPS Board members. That only insures they will make sure even more taxpayer money flows to the teachers union, lawyers, contractors, architects and suppliers to OPS than they already do, since future candidates will feel the need to raise/spend even more campaign money to secure an office that pays them to do something others used to do for “free”. Yes, I realize OPS board members do get “paid” in other ways not including a salary…not counting what folks seeking OPS’ business spend wooing votes on the Board.

  4. Genuine says:

    Maybe Nebraska’s next Senator shouldn’t be a Terrible lifelong Politician. Perhaps instead of concentrating on a list of qualities that Don (or Jim DeMint) would like to see in Nebraska’s next Senator, he should focus on being Treasurer for 15 minutes.

    Fort would be crazy to get in and risk losing his job in the first district.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If Fortenberry gets in he runs the risk of much higher public scrutiny of his record and general demeanor towards people. The 1st CD does not get down and dirty when barely viable Dems are Fort’s only opposition. It would be a whole different story with Bruning and Stenberg digging up dirt which is not hard to find on the esteemed Congressman. He has the most liberal voting record of the three in Congress, where he had no record when he skated to his first congressional win. The TV ads alone would shed light on a persona that the general public may not be aware of. Quite a risk to weigh but if he thinks this is his only shot at the big one, who knows.

  6. Flip Flop says:

    And I’m sure it’s a coincidence that Fortenberry just hired Hagel’s former state director. Looks like Jeff is going to hit the ground running and expects to win.

  7. Iceman says:

    I happened to notice the absence of Lincoln Councilman Adam Hornung’s name in this post, which is funny given he may be one of the most serious contenders for Fort’s seat…he’s very well liked in Lincoln and has the ability to raise a boatload of cash in very short time. Hell, he pulled $100k + in his city council race in just a couple weeks.

  8. Susan Smith says:

    I can’t see Fortenberry taking a big risk of losing to Jon Bruning for the Senate seat. JF doesn’t seem to me to be a risk taker or be silly enough to put his voting record out there when he could probably stay in the House for as long as he wants.

    Nebraskans are saying they want something different than what we’ve had, we no longer want the “go along to get along” politicians. Jon Bruning is the game changer. I want someone who is not afraid to represent the majority voice of Nebraskans and I want someone who is not going to buckle at the knees against great opposition. I’ll continue supporting Bruning.

  9. Anonymostly says:

    Fort is smart. And shrewd. And an effective politician. I think if he jumps into the race, it’s based on a careful assessment of his chances of winning the Republican nomination. In other words, if he throws his hat in the Senate race, it’ll be because he thinks his odds of winning are pretty good. JMOO.

    In other news, was just listening to Rush Limbaugh downplay the importance of the Iowa Caucuses (the “Hawkeye Cauci” as he calls them.) He says they really aren’t historically a player in deciding the Republican nominee.

    And his “proof” for that assertion is that only 3 times since 1979 has the eventual nominee won Iowa.

    And that sounds like pretty resounding proof at first glance, but …

    That’s three out of how many contested races?

    1980 was open. That’s one.
    ’84 was not; we had Reagan as an incumbent.
    ’88 was a contested primary, so that’s two.
    ’92 was not contested because, again, incumbent Republican.
    ’96 was contested. That’s three.
    2000 was contested. That’s four.
    2004 was not contested. Bush was the incumbent.
    2008 was contested. That’s five.

    So, since 1979, Rush, three out of five (60%) of the eventual Republican nominees won Iowa. That tells me Iowa’s not nothin’. There’s a reason (almost) all eyes are on Iowa tonight.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Fort would be a fool to announce anything right now until after cosmic Bob makes his final intentions known. At that point, it will be time to play the field…

  11. Anonymostly says:

    Bob Kerrey at post 12, with all due respect, Fortenberry is going to be a lot less concerned about Cosmic Bob Kerrey than beating the Republicans in the primary. May is the whole shootin’ match. Whichever candidate wins the Republican nomination wins the general. Ain’t no way this state makes the same mistake that brought them that immensely popular Obamacare. And Cosmic Bob, you’re even more of a reliable lib than Ben Nelson. Kerrey has not a chance in hell of winning that seat.

  12. what else did he say says:

    I didn’t hear Rush Limbaugh. While he was talking about how Iowa doesn’t predict who wins the nomination, did he discuss how Iowa can cull candidates pretty quickly.? Look at how fast the flies drop if they don’t win, place or show in Iowa. Maybe Iowa isn’t a diving stick on who will win, but it sure tells us quickly who for sure won’t. The headline tomorrow about who won won’t be as important as the story next week about who is quitting.

    Who did Fortenberry hire?

    Lautenbaugh for Mayor!!

  13. Bob Loblaw says:

    Bruning won’t go along to get along? He won’t buckle at the knees in the face of opposition? Hmmm, I seem to remember him doing just that when Johanns got in the race last time.

  14. Kortezzi says:

    Just because Fortenberry has copied Ben Nelson’s hairstyle doesn’t make him Senator material.

    Or maybe he’s trying to copy the Justin Bieber look?

  15. Support Fort says:

    It’s amusing that everyone wants to talk about Fortenberry’s record being liberal. Seriously? When he ran for Congress in 2004 the word was that he was too conservative for the 1st District. What liberal votes does he have? He voted against the bailouts and Obamacare – and he has consistently voted against bills that would increase government spending and add to deficit, even when they were masked as extensions of the Bush tax cuts.

    Fortenberry has 600K in campaign money and has served on the House Ag committee since he was first elected. He has conducted punishing public townhall schedules since taking office, and he won the City of Lincoln in his contested 2004 General election – Johanns didn’t win Lincoln the first time he ran for Governor even though he’d been mayor. Fortenberry hasn’t run repeatedly for statewide office and lost (Stenberg) and he doesn’t have the quid-pro-quo issues of $750,000 SECOND homes with Nelnet executives and getting rich off of shady investments while in office (Bruning).

    And as for him “giving up” CD1 – those are political assessments and considerations made by political hacks who don’t understand what makes a guy like Fortenberry tick. He ran for Congress because he believes it matters how we are represented in Washington. He believes in public service – in family, community and nation before self. He believes we all have a duty to do what is right, not just for ourselves, but for the greater good.

    And I think that Nebraskans are looking for someone serious to serve in the US Senate. Someone who cares about the issues – not someone who speaks in partisan platitudes or who is fulfilling their lifelong personal ambition to be called Senator (Stenberg, Bruning).

    My money is on Fort running and winning.

  16. Anon says:

    They all like the extravagant benefits of high elected office, please. Career politicians the lot of them. What I wouldn’t give for a dark horse in any race that could win, just so we don’t have to be subjected to the insufferable whining about how they are all about public service. People are sick of career politicians. Unfortunately they seem to be the only people with money necessary to dull the masses into voting for them.

  17. BkDodge42 says:

    Anonymostly had me thinking about his proof. I’m not sure which of the 5 open Iowa Caucuses the eventual candidate won. In 1980, George H.W. Bush won the Iowa Caucus but Ronald Reagan was the nominee. In 1988 Bob Dole won the Caucus, George H.W. Bush became the nominee. In 2008 Mike Huckabee won Iowa, and John McCain was the nominee. All I could find was in 1996 and 2000 the winner of the Caucus became the nominee. That’s 2 out of 5 or only 40%.

  18. Hardy Haar? says:

    @Kortezzi and SS – The Fort’s coiffure clearly copies Mike Hilgers, not Senator Skunk, Bieber, or King of the Wild Frontier.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Have to say it is interesting that Forts hair looks like the critter in the SAB photo, all he needs to do is pin a tail on the back and its a dead ringer (pun intended)

  20. Some Thoughts says:

    I don’t understand why the OPS board is suddenly going to see the financial reform light if we start paying them $20,000 a year each. Someone explain that one? I also don’t understand why 5 is a better number than 12, apart from the obvious idea that Lautenbaugh would engineer the districts to minimize the number of liberals with an advantage. Finally, the argument that we only need state control when local control fails is completely bogus. You either believe in local control of schools or you don’t. If you think the state has the answers and the authority to intervene in a local district’s organization, then you have to stick to that principle even when it becomes less convenient, and vice-versa. Personally, I believe in local control as a basic conservative principle.

  21. Bibi from Netanya says:

    The Force is strong with that young Fort, mark my words. The stuff about a liberal voting record is nonsense, although certainly there are folks that want the Fort to be like some other people – and be able to push him around easily. It is not easy these days to be a courageous, thoughtful politician – from both sides. The Democratics are going way to the left, the R’s are killing themselves to run for the right flank, thus leaving the entire center unprotected and opening themselves up for an attack, the likes of Wellington’s defeating Napoleon at Waterloo (yes Michelle Bachman – that Waterloo is in Belguim). The Fort man won’t do it unless he has carefully counted his beans, but if he should do it – he wins it because the beans would have been counted. The Carpetbagger stuff is cheap, tired, and most certainly in political campaigning sense – very ineffective. It has failed miserably against the Fort time after time. Also, bringing it up is definitely not conduct becoming a gentleman. Stenberg should know better – his comment is a sign of weakness.

  22. To Anon 1:59 says:

    Fischer has a good record of benefiting from a federal subsidy.

    I recently heard her say that she’s not a career politician. I’m confused…school board, state senate, now aspiring for the U.S. Senate…hmmm

  23. Realist says:

    Realistically, Fortenberry has to evaluate whether: he can raise a minimum of $1 mil, or more likely $1.5 mil, in 90 days to expand his name recognition beyond the 1st; does he has the time to campaign in the 3rd, the 2nd and the new parts of the 1st and still be in the House during Jan, Feb, March and April. Especially, since Bruning and Stenberg have run multiple statewide races; and finally, does he have thick enough skin to take the withering attacks that are sure to come, e.g. see Club for Growth.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Candidates running for office in Nebraska should take notice of the Santorum strategy of winning political campaigns which comes down to good ole fashioned meet the voters and press the flesh tactics that count plenty. He was barely a blip on the relentless polling screen, but chose to keep a style of campaigning to find his voters, get his message out and then seal it with an obvious likeability factor that engages continued interest.

    Rick Perry kamikazied himself with relentless attacks from the air that sounded more like a Texan herding cattle instead of someone with the credentials and longing to…….lead. Campaigning is a tough business and Santorum proved he has the fire in his belly that becomes a contagious energy. Maybe he will be able to keep it up or maybe not and granted Iowa is unique, but certainly those running for office (i.e. Senate) should focus their energy on the people they long to serve by getting out to know their likes and dislikes instead of playing into the media driven premise that slinging mud breeds success. Great for ratings to have something to talk about, but not so great for the majority of voters turned off by the entire election process.

  25. Anonymostly says:

    BK Dodge 42, I didn’t go back and look at the winners. I took Rush’s word for it that there had been only 3 Iowa winners since ’79 who won the Republican nomination. Counting up the number of contested primaries in that time, I came to 60%. My math was right. Rush’s numbers I can’t vouch for.

    And Support Fort, you go, girl/guy! I don’t see Fort going all Chuck Hagel on us once he gets into the Senate. I think he’d be the best person for the job of all those who’ve announced. It’s a tough call for a guy to make, though, so we’ll see what Jeff decides. If he jumps at the Senate, you can bet I won’t be running for his old seat in Congress, though. 😉

  26. A Tiger versus a Cornhusker says:

    What Nebraska political observers have totally missed about “All Eyes on Fortenberry” is Who’s Eyes are Really on Fortenberry.

    This is a question that should be asked by bona fide political columnists like Don Walton & politically-oriented blogs like LS and Nebraska Watchdog. (The OWH’s Robynn Tysver & C.David Kotok proved in 2010 that the OWH now is a corporate conduit for the delivery system formerly known as Journalism.)

    Nationally, “The Fort” is BFF’s with Rick Santorum. Think about that for a moment. Consider that in relation to the fact that Rick Santorum is the de facto winner of the Iowa Caucus.

    The Santorum surge has got to be giving Rep. Fortenberry Reason to Believe that the Senate brass ring just might be his to grab.

    Not long ago, Rep. Fortenberry joined the Santorums at Steubenville-University and this is an on-line write-up about the event:

    “Among those gathered to honor the Santorums was U. S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska) MA ’96, who recounted visiting Santorum’s office when Santorum was first elected. “You didn’t know me—I was just a kid! But I watched you take on the powers that be. I watched you hang in year in and year out, saying the tough things and doing the hard things, standing for what is right, standing for what is good, and ultimately trying to build a more just society.
    “I’m so grateful for your leadership, not only in the state of Pennsylvania, not only for America, but for inspiring those who are in your wake.”

    (P.S. The period that “The Fort” was talking about being “a kid” was when he was 34 years-old and living in Washington, D.C. pining away for a state that would someday make him a U.S. Congressman.)

    Additionally, it’s a well-known fact JSA is a huge fan of Rep. Fortenberry and waxes politically poetically about him every chance she can.

    Why hasn’t someone asked Julie Schmit-Albin whether she is, in fact, encouraging “The Fort” to run?

    If she’s offering “The Fort” 65,000 guaranteed RtL votes, that’s got to be pretty appealing. So, when you add Rick Santorum’s BFFness to “The Fort” and JSA, one can see why a born-and-bred boy from the Bayou, perhaps, is considering entering a race that’s got just four months left.

  27. Lil Mac says:

    As Sen. Nelson’s retirement has many GOP candidates popping up from lesser jobs and legislatures seeking his seat, it bears remembering why liberal Democrat Bob Kerrey was embraced by mostly-conservative GOP-leaning Nebraska. Voters know it takes less courageous leadership to vote in a legislature or run a staff of lawyers than it does to govern a state or be a commando. And, frankly, until now the NE GOP didn’t have its own governor commando. But Heineman isn’t running. That is, until he relents and runs. In the meantime, he rests in strength below political targeting radars.

    Heineman is term limited, a former Army ranger and a governor, and since he has everyone leaving him alone until he runs, he is also astute. Since the U. S. Senate eats its strategically inept members, this is good news for Nebraska, because Heineman may well be its next Senator.

    Any strategy we can easily see is a losing strategy. Heineman cannot say he is running for the Senate. The facts suggest he will run and if he does, my guess is he will win big.

  28. Lyin & Tigers & Huskers--Oh My! says:

    What Nebraska political observers have totally missed is: Who are the Forces behind pushing “The Fort” to run for Nebraska’s now-open U.S. Senate seat?
     
    This is a question that already should have been asked by bona fide political columnists like Don Walton & politically-oriented blogs like LS and Nebraska Watchdog. (The OWH’s Robynn Tysver & C.David Kotok proved in 2010 that the OWH now is a corporate conduit for the delivery system formerly known as Journalism.)
     
    Nationally, “The Fort” is BFF’s with Rick Santorum. Think about that for a moment. Consider that in relation to the fact that Rick Santorum is the de facto winner of the Iowa Caucus.
     
    The Santorum surge has got to be giving Rep. Fortenberry Reason to Believe that the Senate brass ring just might be his to grab.
     
    Not long ago, Rep. Fortenberry joined the Santorums at Steubenville-University and this is an on-line write-up about the event:
     
    “Among those gathered to honor the Santorums was U. S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska) MA ’96, who recounted visiting Santorum’s office when Santorum was first elected. “You didn’t know me—I was just a kid! But I watched you take on the powers that be. I watched you hang in year in and year out, saying the tough things and doing the hard things, standing for what is right, standing for what is good, and ultimately trying to build a more just society.
    “I’m so grateful for your leadership, not only in the state of Pennsylvania, not only for America, but for inspiring those who are in your wake.”
     
    (P.S. The period that “The Fort” was talking about being “a kid” was when he was 34 years-old and living in Washington, D.C. pining away for a state that would someday make him a U.S. Congressman.)
     
    Additionally, it’s a well-known fact JSA is a huge fan of Rep. Fortenberry and waxes politically poetically about him every chance she can.
     
    Why hasn’t someone asked Julie Schmit-Albin whether she is, in fact, encouraging “The Fort” to run?
     
    If she’s offering “The Fort” 65,000 guaranteed RtL votes, that’s got to be pretty appealing. So, when you add Rick Santorum’s BFFness to “The Fort” and JSA, one can see why a born-and-bred boy from the Bayou, perhaps, is considering entering a race that’s got just four months left.

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