Background on the NEGOP’s complaint against Kerrey

Cosmic Bob Kerrey wanders the Village

The Nebraska Republican Party filed a complaint yesterday challenging the candidacy of Bob Kerrey for U.S. Senate. We read in the MSM that they are contesting Secretary of State John Gale’s ruling that Kerrey can be on the ballot, but we have seen little detail on the actual complaint. So let’s dive in!

First off, the complaint is the NEGOP against John Gale. That is because it is the party’s responsibility — and not a candidate’s or a citizen’s — to file such an objection. And it is not against Kerrey, but against Gale and his ruling.

This is filed in Lancaster County District Court. We would be curious to know if it could have been filed in Douglas or any other Nebraska County, but we will bypass that for now. But know that the court can make a difference, obviously, because of which judge gets it.

In this case, this has fallen into the lap of District Court Judge Steven Burns. We asked around to some legal-beagle friends familiar with that court and those judges, and the consensus is… Burns is the worst possible judge for the GOP in this matter.

Why? Well, for starters, Burns was appointed by one Governor E. Benjamin Nelson. And he was a VERY active Democrat before Nelson appointed him. We could even get into the argument that many lawyers who practice there find him to be a very liberal, activist judge, and that he consistently receives the worst evaluation through the state bar association.

But other than that, great place for the case to land.

So is that the end, if Judge Burns slams the book on it? Nope. It would likely get appealed to the Court of Appeals, or just up to the Nebraska Supreme Court — whichever way Judge Burns rules — and there it would be somewhat of a crap shoot. Though some would argue that with the Nebraska Supreme Court’s makeup being 6 to 1 Ben Nelson appointees, the decision may be already made. Oh, and this all could get removed to Federal Court as well.

Fun stuff, yeah?


How about the complaint itself?

Well, it mainly focuses around what IS the question as far as what determines how Kerrey can be on the ballot. Yes the U.S. Constitution says that a Senator must just be a resident of the state. But states also have the right to set certain factors to determine who can be on the ballot. They can set a deadline for filing. They can set different standards for office holders and non-office holders — an advantage Kerrey certainly took advantage of.

And the Nebraska GOP argues that the state can set a standard that says a candidate must meet certain requirements that protect the integrity and reliability of the electoral process itself.

If a candidate took part in a fraud or a crime in connection with the filing forms, the state can restrict said candidate’s name from the primary ballot to protect the integrity of the process.

So in the summary of his decision, Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale stated that Bob Kerrey exhibited a pattern of false statements on his voter registration forms and his candidate filing forms. By doing this Kerrey committed fraud, argues the NEGOP. And the Nebraska statutes state that a person who commits fraud in connection with his candidate filing must be kept off the ballot.

Got all that?

Now we have no idea how the courts will come down on all of this, but we have a feeling the crux of it all will be whether Kerrey’s actions were fraud, and how much weight Gale’s decision on this must receive.

We will still bet that Kerrey ends up on the ballot, but this makes it an interesting matter in the long run. Kerrey played fast and loose with the rules to get his name on the ballot — all starting with his initial decision NOT to run. (Talking Points Memo asks today how Kerrey could have had such a clumsy roll out of his campaign.) And it behooves the state party to make this court challenge. To sit on their heels would have been political malpractice.

But does a Nebraskan have these problems when running for Senate? That is something to think about, and you can bet will be focused on as the court case and any campaign continues.


Oh, and a little bird pointed us to the service of process on the brief filed by the NEGOP: It went to BOTH Kerrey’s sister’s house, and to Jay Noddle’s guest house addresses. (Chuckle.)

If they really wanted to make a point, they should have sent it to Kerrey’s actual home in Greenwich Village, New York City as well.


The Lincoln Journal Star has a story about the shakeup of the party heads at both the state Republican and Democrat parties.

We do not have much to add about the NEGOP, except that Mark Fahleson would make a great National Committeeman and we think Tim O’Dell would/could be a great Chairman. No idea at this point who else may be interested.

On the Dem side, we saw that former Gubernatorial candidate Mike Meister is making a gung-ho run for Democrat Chairman — already putting together a Facebook page to gather support. Meister is still holding on to his “Music Man” image with the seer-sucker suit and the straw boater.

Though we still always get a little snort at the line that Meister “puts the Goober in Gubernatorial“.

But Meister is up against Omahan Joe Higgins, who has already received the support of outgoing Chair Vic Covalt. Ooooooh!
We wonder who former Chair Steve Achelpohl will endorse.
And we wonder if Bob Kerrey will weigh in!

Of course, Kerrey might have to ask New York Governor Cuomo for his input first.


  1. Macdaddy says:

    I see a great ad for the GOP entitled, “Where’s Waldo?”. Another one could be entitled “Loophole Bob” when the ruling comes back in Kerrey’s favor.

  2. Anonymostly says:

    I’ve seen a lot of online debates about the definition of the word “irony” and whether people accurately portray situations as “ironic” when “coincidence” is a better fit. So, for all of you wordsmiths out there, please tell me whether this is an example of irony or not:

    In the Lincoln Urinal Star today, there’s a letter to the editor arguing that Bob Kerrey does not fit the definition of the term “carpetbagger.” The letter was submitted by “Ivy Harper, Bethesda, Md.”

  3. Anonymostly says:

    To post #4: Judge Irwin? WTF? Noooo, pretty sure they were referring to Judge Burns, whose daughter practices with Vic Covalt. You should take your own advice.

  4. Kortezzi says:

    Anonymostly, that is priceless irony on Ivy H!
    Keep that one on file for future use on LS…

    Re: Judge Burns…the fix is in.
    Wonder who got to decide which judge to assign the GOP’s case to him?

  5. anon says:

    The case is a loser for the NEGOP. There is no way they get Kerrey booted from the ballot. This is really just a way to remind the voters that Kerrey spent the last decade in NY every time the media runs an update on the case. It will either do that, or appear petty to voters.

  6. What will REALLY be funny is if they take RWP’s legal advice and convict Nebraska Secretary of State, John Gale, as an accomplice in a 4th degree felony! Now THAT would be ironic.

    Evidently I made a big mistake by commenting on Mike Meister’s Facebook page today. The powers that be sicked their heavyweight pit-bull, Phil Montag on me. The lad had the audacity to come to a verbal gunfight with me, but forgot to load his gun. He made some insinuations about my past “bad” behavior so I told him to either apologize or list his accusations. He quoted many of the statements I have written right here on Leavenworth Street as “proof” of my heresies.
    What was an admittedly cantankerous, and half Scottish/half Irish brawler, to do? I took his accusations apart one by one and threw them right back at him. Since he accused me of once registering as a Republican, a thing I have never done in my life, and never would, should I sue him for defamation of character? Any of you legal beagles over here on LS have any advice in that regard?
    The funniest thing of all was that this attack came from a guy that once anonymously posted a photoshopped picture of one of the NDP’s county chairs with his face on the body of a child molester from that old TV show, “To Catch a Predator – with Chris Hansen.” Most hilariously, Phil forgot to cover his tracks, and all you had to do was click on the photo and it took you right to his own Flickr page, or something like that.
    I believe that it is Phil that used to post here on LS as “Holdrege Voter,” the one that incessantly brought up my non-existent ties to the Sicilian Mafia. My reasoning? One of his accusations repeats a story propagated by “Holdrege Voter.” No one in their right mind believes it for a minute, since a preponderance of readily accessible evidence disproves it, but that didn’t stop him. Phil needs to learn how to cover his tracks before he can get into Karl Rove’s shoes.
    I intend to support Mike Meister for the Chair of the NDP. Mike may not be too happy about that, but the alternative is unthinkable. Vic Covalt’s anointed one hasn’t done half of the things for the NDP that Mike Meister has. I’m sure that Omahan, Joe Higgins, is a nice guy, but once again, the rural part of Nebraska would be kicked in the teeth were he to get the post. The NDP has fallen into its current weak state because it has been run by the CEMOL (Committee to Elect Mayors of Omaha and Lincoln) hierarchy for far too long. It is high time we had someone from rural Nebraska as our leader, and Mike is from about as far west as you can go.

  7. Ikon says:

    B O,

    You’re absolutely right about the Pathetic state of the NEDP. I think some energetic high school kids could do a better job! Case in point; I called & asked if they had videoed the Ewing/Howard debate & if they did, when it might be posted on utube. I was told that in fact it had been taped but, sad to say, on some antique recorder which posed some serious uploading problems. After a few calls back, I gave up thinking that perhaps they might be ashamed to post it??? Anyway, case in point.

  8. Anonymous says:

    BTO, Phil Montag is the 25th person you’ve accused of attacking you. How about you write about it on your own blog and then see how many people click the link to read it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    BTO oh your funny. Not one democrat in the state of Nebraska cares what you think. Most don’t know who you are. Joe Higgins is very great full you want Mike to win. You might know some thing about the party if you were ever at a meeting. But we are glad your not. Ya I know you will now call me an anonymous coward. I don’t care and neither does any one else.

  10. RWP says:

    Any of you legal beagles over here on LS have any advice in that regard?

    I once got Vince Powers’ opinion on a much more egregious case of defamation. He said not to bother trying to sue. It’s effectively impossible in this state.

    Yeah, small world, or small state, at least.

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