FLASH: Fort not running for Senate!


We JUST received word that NE-1 Rep. Jeff Fortenberry will NOT run for Senate and will run for re-election to the House.

Where does that leave Governor Dave Heineman?

More later.


Calling Cosmic Bob

The hot U.S. Senate campaign news in Nebraska on Friday went like this:

  • Steve Lathrop is IN (maybe)
  • Jeff Fortenberry is IN (maybe)
  • Bob Kerrey is IN (maybe)
  • Dave Heineman is…still thinking about it.

And that pretty much sums up the Senate race right now.

With all the conjecture going on, everyone is STILL looking to Dave Heineman to make a final decision. And you can bet the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is on his tail as well.

Because it will work like this: If Governor Dave gets in, Fort doesn’t run and Kerrey doesn’t run. Lathrop may run, figuring it’s a sure loss, but a gain for his 2014 Governor’s campaign.


As Don Walton noted, and most others note when you really press them, it doesn’t seem like Heineman really wants to get in. If he did, he would probably already be in.

That’s not to say that he cannot be convinced though. And the convincing could go like this:

If he gets in, he wins, most likely in an easy General race against a sacrificial lamb chop.

If he doesn’t get in, all bets are off. (Well, actually, the heavy betting would begin, but there isn’t a old saying like that…) And maybe the seat stays with the Dems. Because…

Fortenberry could very likely get in. And Kerrey could very likely get in.

If Fort gets in you would have a very splintered GOP Primary. The three big dogs would split the votes three ways, and Deb Fischer would siphon off some and just about anything could happen. There is no traditionally “Omaha” candidate in the bunch, so someone (Stenberg?) could make that leap.

The old CQ might look something like this:
1) Bruning vs Kerrey could give it a “lean Kerrey”
2) Stenberg vs Kerrey could give it a “lean Kerrey”
3) Fortenberry vs Kerrey could give it a “lean Fort”
4) Fischer vs Kerrey probably “lean Kerrey”


We would really call that the “old CQ”.

This is not the “old” Bob Kerrey. And by that we mean, “the Bob Kerrey who used to live in Nebraska”. He can shrug off the carpetbagger stuff all he wants, but the guy has lived in New York City for the past 12 years and ran one of the most liberal colleges in the country.

In the mean time, he is still in favor of ObamaCare and would be considered a consistent Democrat vote in the Senate. Does anyone think that is what Nebraskans want? A transplanted New Yorker who will carry water for Harry Reid?

With that in mind, there is a strong argument that ALL the Republicans could/would beat Kerrey. We would even include Deb Fischer in that bunch, because IF she could win the primary, she would have have all the cash she needed for the General to establish herself. (It’s the cash in the primary part that is going to trouble her.)

Fort’s argument would be that he would be the most electable for Independents against Kerrey, and that they will likely sway the race. But we would argue that even if GOP voters decide Fortenberry is not conservative enough for them (and you can bet that Stenberg and Bruning would POUND that drum), any of them would likely have a good or maybe great chance of beating former Senator Kerrey.

But you could very likely call it a “toss-up”.

Unless Heineman was in.


Of course all of this assumes that Kerrey is as enthused about running for Senate as Don Walton is about Kerrey running for Senate.

There are the hints that “A number of friends and close political associates said Friday they believe Kerrey is inclined to seek the Senate seat”.

There is Kerrey talking about his big plans if he were Senator again and how neat it would be to work with Governor Dave on various projects.

But remember one thing folks: This is Cosmic Bob Kerrey we are talking about. He is often times more excited about the idea of doing something than actually doing the thing itself (Examples: gushing to Bill Clinton how awesome it was that both of them were running for President. Thinking about running for Mayor of New York City. Thinking about running for Senate in Nebraska in 2008)

With Cosmic Bob, do not be one bit surprised to see the following quote:

“You know, I’ve been looking at this Nebraska Senate race. And I realized, I really LIKE doughnuts. So I’ve decided to start a giraffe farm.”

And then off into the sunset he will go, and the LJS will still look to him for quotes about Turkmenistan.


And just so you know where everyone stands, the OWH reported today that Ben Nelson has $3M to give away to whomever he chooses, including the DSCC. Joe Morton said,

“After all, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee just coughed up hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for television ads featuring Nelson.”

No, the DSCC spent $1.2 MILLION on ads defending Nelson. That’s more than “hundreds of thousands”. Unless you consider it all cumulative, in which case you may as well say they spent “hundreds of cents” on him.

Oh, and Bob Kerrey already said Ben doesn’t have to give him all that money for his campaign if he doesn’t want to.


ICYMI, Mike Johanns is currently somewhere in Africa.  And he may or may not be sipping quinine water with Bono there.

That’s the life Bob Kerrey yearns to go back to.


  1. At the end of the day says:

    We all knew Fort wasn’t going to make this jump. Nothing better than a safe house seat you can have forever. Why try to make the jump to the senate when you’ll get beat by Bruning in the primary.

    Fort took one look at Bruning’s cash and thought better.

  2. SoWhat??? says:

    I listended to Cosmic Bob on KFAB this morning. The most interesting comment he made was not related to any concerns about running a Senate campaign, but if he really wanted what would come with winning…meaning 6 years in the US Senate. If your major concern is winning, maybe Cosmic Bob should stay put in NYC and play with his 10 year old son…and his grandkids. Not that he would win, if he gets in because he has less of a shot than the Benator had.

  3. Ivy Marie Harper...called It days ago: "The Fort's" a Fluke in the First says:

    Ivy Marie Harper January 7, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    Kerrey, 4/10Berry & Terry. Predictions:

    Kerrey will not run; 4/10Berry will not jump to Senate; Lee Terry will win.

    Funny, isn’t it, that three of Nebraska’s top politicians’ last names rhyme: Kerrey, Terry, & 4/10Berry.

  4. Glad says:

    I’m happy to hear Fortenberry is staying out of the race for two reasons. 1. I think he does a good job in the 1st. 2. I don’t see how he could have beaten Bruning in the primary.

  5. anon says:

    @Glad While I can’t agree with you on the first, you’re definitely right on the 2nd…

    Fort enters with less name ID statewide which leads to a deficit in the polling on the ballot, less money and little time. None of those things stack up to being a path to victory. Looks like Bruning is on this path to a “W” in May.

  6. RWP says:

    If Kerrey wants to run for the Senate, he should run in the state in which he lives: New York. Kirsten Gillibrand is up for re-election in Nov. 2012. There’s still time to register for the Democratic primary; the filing deadline is in July.

    Gillibrand is relatively moderate; Bob can run to her left.

  7. Reality says:

    The Gov isn’t the only one who can keep potential contenders out of the race. Bruning has strong statewide support, and Fort’s polling clearly showed that.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Rumor is that one of the CD 1 candidates who was discussed is still mulling a bid and is willing to challenge Fort. They see a chance by running to his right.

  9. Banker says:

    Hopefully Bruning’s interns can explain why when he buys a bank, the uninsured deposits skyrocket after the purchase? Did someone in Pender win the lottery and put it all in his bank???? Check the FDIC website.

  10. ricky says:

    Looks like the GOP is not very happy with the candidates they have now for Senate, which is surprising because they include the sitting Treasurer and AG. Both state-wide jobs. So why all the speculation about other Repugs? If Stenberg and Bruning are the top of the line R’s, what does that say about the top of the crop?
    And I wish Mr Sleeper would stop using the cliche “ObamaCare”. This election will not be a referendum on that issue. It will be before the Supreme Court prior to the Nov. election. It will either be held up or shot down (probably held up), and one vote of a Senator on our new health care law is meaningless.
    In fact, one of the reasons the GOP is unhappy with Mr Bruning (besides his raccoon obsession) is that he put all his eggs in repeal of the new law, which is just not going to happen.

    ricky from omaha

  11. Hypocrites says:

    If Bob, who was born and raised in Nebraska, served as Governor and US Senator for Nebraska, is now a “carpetbagger” to Nebraska, then so was Mike Johanns. After all, he was born and raised in Iowa, and then left Nebraska, selling all but a few HUD houses he could make money off of. He bought a $1.5 Million house in Arlington, VA, that remains his primary residence to this day. The only reason he was able to run for Senate was he came back and bought a condo in Omaha in January 2008, months AFTER he had announced his run. The fact is it was all legal.

    But going by the definition of people on here, Johanns was and is a carpetbagger. But I guarantee all the complainers on here voted for him anyway. Why didn’t Johanns run for Senate in Virginia where he was living? Turn arounds fairplay!

  12. anon says:

    Maybe you should stop sleeping through your classes at the schools of banking and you might learn about how banks grow through deposits (even uninsured ones). Only then will you get promoted out of the drive thru window.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I suppose this means Sen Charlie Janssen is still going to run? It sure provides him a way to get out of the legislature without explaining why he wants out. He can just say he tried, and failed, to take the 1st CD, and then check out from politics for a while.

  14. Dennis, Jr. says:

    The reason Fort isn’t running for Senate, and the reason Kerrey won’t run and Heineman won’t run and the reason I won’t run for Senate is because we’re all afraid of Ben Nelson. Jon Bruning and Deb Fischer are also afraid of Ben Nelson which is why they’re running as Republicans. Don Stenburg not only isn’t afraid of Ben Nelson, he’s not even really sure who Ben Nelson even is. And that’s why he’s running. But, if Don only knew who Ben Nelson is, he’d be afraid of him. Very afraid.

  15. Kortezzi says:

    Johanns is no carpetbagger. His departure for DC came after being tapped by GW Bush as Sec’y of Agriculture. Yeah, Mike bought an Omaha condo and retained ownership of his VA home when he ran for Senate. But he held onto the home in Arlington in case he won the Senate race – – which he did, of course – – and quite naturally, he lives there while the Senate’s in session, and in Omaha when it’s not. This does not compare with Cosmic Bob’s 12 consecutive years living & working in NYC.

    I bet Heineman’s holding off on HIS announcement about the Senate race until Kerrey makes up HIS mind first. No reason for Gov Dave to rush – – the pressure’s all on Kerrey! Bob knows his indecision paralyzes the decisions of any other would-be Democrat candidates (Lathrop & whoever else). Dave must know this, and he’s confident he could beat Cosmic Bob if necessary – – no doubt he’s having fun observing & laughing about Kerrey’s dizzying deliberations!

    Speaking of dizzy, that pic of Kerrey makes him look way too tired to be considering a return to campaigning and the Senate’s 24/7/365 political way of life.

  16. New Yorker says:

    “I’ll come back to New York and make a decision.” – Bob Kerry in an interview today.

    Seems to have forgotten the word ‘home’ in his statement. Should have read: Bob Kerry: “I’ll come back HOME to New York and make a decision.”

    The guy hasn’t really lived in Nebraska since he went to the Senate. New York and it’s liberal ways are his home and his politics.

  17. RWP says:

    Significantly, the last public office with which Kerrey publicly flirted was Mayor of New York. Looks like he really hasn’t made his mind up whom he wants to represent, or where.

    Any vehicle to get attached to gummint dugs is OK, it seems to me.

  18. nice shot says:

    Wait, the same Charlie Janssen who was going to run for Congress a few years ago as a Democrat is considering running to the right of Fort in a GOP primary? In any case, sounds like a suicide mission.

  19. Lil Mac says:

    Begging Kerrey to run for the Senate is like asking a guy to marry his ex-wife. It’s a job he held and then quit. I am sure he loves feeling the flattering vibe again but flattery only works so much on a guy like Kerrey. He’s not stupid. Even if he wins, he’s back with his ex. His aim once was the WH, but if he couldn’t do that as a Senator, he surely cannot do it as an old re-tread Senator and uber liberal, especially in this political climate.

    It is as Sweeper says it is. “If Governor Dave gets in, Fort doesn’t run and Kerrey doesn’t run.”

    Whereas the DSCC begs Kerrey from a needy posture ala Nelson’s resignation, senatorial Republicans urge a Heineman who is is term limited and needs the gig. Dave has a future. Old onion head had his shot and he’s not about to go from being a winner to at best being a retread and risk being a loser.

  20. Banker says:

    @ anon 1:38, banks grow slowly. They dont increase their deposits instantly overnight, unless Bruning is involved. The banks that were purchased didn’t bring in new officers to grow deposits and loans, and the other banks in those communities didnt lose deposits. So you tell me since I am too busy in the drive thru, where did all those depsits come from?

  21. To Nice Shot says:

    I’d rather have a guy who might have run as a Democrat but votes like a conservative than a guy like Fortenberry who runs as a Republican but votes like a liberal.

  22. To: To Nice Shot says:

    So, this Fortenberry voting like a liberal thing. Please share specifics. Otherwise, sounds like you’re just regurgitating stuff you’ve just heard somewhere. So, anyway, which votes of the hundreds he’s probably cast in Congress would you say qualify as voting “like a liberal?”

  23. anon says:

    “Any vehicle to get attached to gummint dugs is OK, it seems to me.”

    Yeah, I bet that was his motivation in Vietnam as well.

  24. Big Gov Fort says:

    How about voting against $446 million in cuts to Amtrak? Or voting against $223 million in cuts to Obama’s National Labor Relations Board? Fortenberry is not serious about cutting spending and should say so.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Sen Janssen isn’t going to file against Fortenberry now. So that is that.

    But did overhear someone saying something about Lathrop running for Gov, so I guess he won’t run for the Senate. Heeerrrrrrssss Cosmic Bob and his dog……….?

  26. Chris says:

    Merging the Register of Deeds and County Assessor in Douglas County would be a horrible mistake. There won’t be any savings except from losing one of the elected officials, the duties of both offices DO NOT overlap.

    This is just a power grab by the liberals on the County Board (including republicans) “claiming” they’re saving money, but in reality will cost the county much more.

  27. to to nice shot and big gov says:

    I, and I’d wager a majority of Nebraskans, would rather have someone who actually thinks before he votes rather than a mindless robot pulling the lever of choice for his party, a cadre of lobbyists, or Grover Norquist. But I suspect that you’re kinda into the mindlessness thing.

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