As we noted last week, Republican Pete Ricketts brought in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for an endorsement event. In a broadside response, fellow candidate state Senator Charlie Janssen sent out a fundraising request that was centered on this message:
(Walker and Ricketts) both support a pathway to citizenship for people in the United States illegally. That is something Nebraska conservatives should not put up with.
The Ricketts camp shot back, on the same day, with the following, also in a fundraising request:
Charlie Janssen has launched a baseless attack against Pete Ricketts, and oddly against conservative icon Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose endorsement Pete Ricketts received today.
The truth: Pete opposes amnesty and opposes a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. In 2006, when Nebraska Republicans chose Pete to run against Democrat US Senator Ben Nelson, Pete took on the issue of illegal immigration. Pete opposed amnesty, prioritized border security, and recommended stiff penalties for the employers who’ve compounded the problem by supplying jobs for illegals.
It’s unfortunate that Charlie Janssen has chosen the low road instead of working to save his fledging campaign with his own ideas. The last thing Nebraska Republican primary voters want is gutter politics… Thanks for your support of Pete Ricketts for Governor – please rest assured that Pete opposes illegal immigration, amnesty or a pathway to citizenship.
The Ricketts camp goes on at length about his no-pathway-to-citizenship positions, as a candidate for Governor.
But, that’s not what it looked like back in 2006, when he was running against Ben Nelson for U.S. Senate.
Ricketts said that “illegal immigrants should be required to pay a fine and to go through a rigorous process to obtain residency status.” [Omaha World-Herald, 12/4/05]Ricketts “favored a pathway to legalization for undocumented workers who met certain criteria.” [Omaha World-Herald, 4/15/06]
Ricketts: “I think we can allow residency and if we can reduce that population 11 million illegal immigrants, by allowing some of them to go into a residency program.” [Republican Forum Luncheon, 4/19/06]
Immigration: Do you support some type of program that would allow immigrants currently here illegal to gain legal status?” David Kramer: “Yes” Pete Ricketts: “Yes” Don Stenberg: “No” [Omaha World Herald, 5/2/06]
“We need to establish a way to bring the illegal immigrants who want to work, obey our laws, and contribute to society out of the shadows. I support working towards a program that would allow some illegal immigrants to stay….” [Ricketts Campaign Press Release, 5/1/06]
“Ricketts said he does not support all portions of the Senate bill, but he has endorsed a pathway to legal status.” [Lincoln Journal Star, 6/8/06]
By the way, the above is what the Democrats found on Ricketts. Go figure.
Back then, Don Walton had a story regarding immigration, where then Senator Ben Nelson hammered Ricketts position as “amnesty lite.” Further, we noted that Ricketts supported Chuck Hagel and President George W. Bush’s position supporting the then Senate bill.
So, if the Ricketts position has evolved, then…ok.
But he shouldn’t hammer Charlie Janssen or any other candidate for pointing out what was his strong position when he ran for U.S. Senate — which position would have had much more influence for the vote on the immigration issue anyway.
We don’t have too much of a problem with Ricketts saying that his position has changed — but just say it. And keep in mind, that all of the other candidates will point out that your position has changed.
We would note that with all of this, it would seem likely that the replay of the 2006 Governor’s primary could resurface — this time with Mike Foley’s support for tax payer funded benefits to illegals (pre-natal care) coming up again.
With the candidates looking for separation on SOME issue, this may be the one that each grabs to show how they differ. We can’t imagine that this one stays underground.
On this same point, we also finally have some distinction in the Senate race.
Sid Dinsdale and Bart McLeay have both come out supporting the Senate bill — supported by Mike Johanns — which would grant certain immigrants a legal status, without the possibility of citizenship. Both Shane Osborn and Ben Sasse have said they do not support this, saying that we have to have border security first, though not dipping their toe to say what would happen afterwards.
As we pointed out yesterday, one can certainly argue that by bringing up this issue in the Year of ObamaCare, Republicans are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, but c’est la vie.
We will let the Senate and Gov candidates argue this one out. We would note however that taking anything other than the hard-core, no-amnesty, position on this is difficult, politically. Ben Nelson took Pete Ricketts to task on it back in 2006.
Note that Ricketts is having none of that this go-round.
At least the GOPers don’t have to worry about Dave Domina going the Ben Nelson route. He has come out for full amnesty.
And with tonight’s State of the Union looming, thinking back to SOTU’s past…