U.S. Senator Elect Deb Fischer is the 2012 Leavenworth Street Nebraska Politician of the Year.
Probably not. But this honor is not based on many of the reason some have suggested.
First let’s get over all of the “first woman” accolades. One’s gender doesn’t merit the award.
Next, get yourself past the “last minute” primary victory part as well. Resources are important, but they only support an effort. They don’t make it.
Most of the qualities for a successful pol are the decision one makes.
So let’s start with her decision to RUN. Oh you chuckle at that, yeah? Everyone knew that Jon Bruning was in — and many were ready to give him the nomination, especially after he had stepped aside for Mike Johanns last time.
But when Don Stenberg factored himself into the race — and got himself some national support to pump up his campaign, there was a clear split among the party faithful. And there was also a VERY broad section of the GOP Primary that hadn’t made up their mind.
And then Fischer made up hers.
Had anyone heard of her? Well (FWIW), we hadn’t. We openly scoffed at her candidacy.
But we had not, like she had, really considered the opening that was available in a three person race.
But she also had to prove herself to the public. She needed something to hang her hat on. And with that she stepped up with her roads funding bill. She made it clear that she was willing to go against the wishes of the Governor, and then be successful in her efforts no matter what the popular Governor thought or did. (Oh, and funny how we haven’t heard much from all of those who said she was trying to buy 3rd District votes with that law, after the OWH found that most of the money will stay in Omaha and Lincoln anyway…)
And then there was a strategy of laying low in the primary. Hey we wanted her to step up in the debates more. Take some tough shots. She and her campaign (managed by the Aaron Trost) decided to stay 100% positive. A tricky decision in a primary where the mud was flying – particularly against Bruning. She stayed dry and clean and you can bet that voters recognized this.
She established herself as a tough legislator.
She established herself as a clean and viable candidate.
And she established herself as someone who could garner significant support when she needed it.
Nebraska GOP voters took notice, and completed the deal.
And in the General, she stayed the course.
She never got flustered by Bob Kerrey and his 100% negative campaign.
She took care of business raising money, campaigning hard, holding her own in debate after debate after debate with Kerrey — who told anyone who would listen how he was going to clean her clock.
And then on Election Day the voters finished the deal once more.
Because she let them know that she is smart, capable and will represent Nebraska well.
That makes her makes her the 2012 Pol of the Year.
(We are looking forward to the next 6 years.)
Well, many point to the influence of outside groups in these past elections.
Club for Growth.
The Paulies showed their grit in Nebraska recently by organizing themselves significantly at the county level — taking over the Douglas County Party.
And they made it clear they were gunning for the State Party. Particularly the seat of retiring Chairman Mark Fahleson.
And then there was the very significant threat that they were going to take over the State Convention and provide an embarrassment to the actual nominee, Mitt Romney, at the national GOP convention.
And Fahleson, and GOP Executive Director Jordan McGrain started organizing and counting on their own.
First Fahleson kicked those who wanted his office squarely in the groin by announcing that he was passing up the National Committeeman gig and instead staying as Chairman. Boom went the dynamite.
And then Fahleson and McGrain — with the Romney campaign in town watching every step — put all their ducks in a row, clamped down on the proceedings, and showed that they too could be organized. And that they could count. And that they were not going to send a blow to the national convention from Nebraska.
That was no small feat — and Fahleson and McGrain were certainly not alone in the effort.
But they were the leaders as it all went down.
And for that, we congratulate them as, if not Pols of the Year, maybe…Operatives of the Year.
(Or whatever accolade you want to put on a ribbon.)
Bob Kerrey’s Sister’s Couch
If Nebraska were more like Massachusetts or New York, maybe the bald-faced power grab by Bob Kerrey would not have been such a big deal.
But when Kerrey, after spending 12 years firmly planted in New York City, announced that his new home in Nebraska was actually the couch in his sister’s basement, the clear majority of Nebraskans shook their heads and never accepted the proposition.
And we credit Mark Fahleson again for not letting the issue die — continuing to challenge Kerrey’s Nebraska residency in court — and not letting Nebraskans forget about Kerrey’s real home.
The issue never died for Kerrey, all the way up to General Election Day.
And all people had to remember was a basement couch.
(Hope it was comfy.)
Thanks for reading everyone!