In the shadow of Scotts Bluff

You all were huddled around your computers pretending it was a Roosevelt fireside chat while listening to the Senate candidates Bart McLeay, Sid Dinsdale, Shane Osborn and Ben Sasse “debate” in the Panhandle last night, right?


Gering Senate Debate 012914


Oh. Um….well US NEITHER! OK, maybe we, um, listened to a little of it. Most of it.
OK, all of it.
Well, at least us, a few reporters and lots of campaign staff.
And our thoughts on the debate? Here goes.

First, this wasn’t a debate.
Sure, they called it a debate. But as near as we could tell, the rules weren’t set up to challenge answers, question other candidates, or in any way really find any separation between these GOP conservatives.

And then there were the questions. A couple very detailed Qs regarding ethanol subsidies (we think) and maybe something about the Farm Bill. Ka-CHUNK! Yes, each candidate had a very good stock answer they slammed down.

Here’s something we did discover: these are four very smart, qualified and prepared candidates. There are no dopes in the bunch, and none were stumped or shaky in ANY of their answers. So that was nice to learn. (And we don’t mean to try to hit anyone here, but there had been talk and emails that ONE of the candidates was MUCH smarter than the others. Well, we don’t know about SAT scores, but as far as this appearance went, each came off very knowledgable and well versed on all the subjects.)

Then there were the obligatory ObamaCare questions. As noted by Deena Winter in her summary over on Watchdog, Shane Osborn was the only one who got suckered into answering a “IF ObamaCare can’t be repealed, what would you do to fix it” question. He gave some of the proposed ideas out there — then the others just rejected the question saying it couldn’t be fixed. Ah well.

Then there were a couple immigration questions where you’ve already seen a slight amount of separation between Dinsdale and McLeay (who support some sort of acceptable residency) and Sasse and Osborn (who won’t consider anything).

And if your goal was to see if all of the candidates were prepared with their stock answers, then mission accomplished. But some of the questions (“Can you REALLY be independent of special interests?“) were not exactly hardballs. (“Gee Ted, when you put it THAT way, no I don’t think I could. I’m afraid I’m in the back pocket of Big Candy.“)

Here is a suggestion for the next debate: “You all are conservatives. How are you different from the guy to your left?” Or even better, “What policy difference do you have with the guy on your right?” You will potentially see a little dust-up, and have some back and forth.

Hey, no one is really listening or watching, but at least you’ll see a few more cut-outs for the local news.

So, Final Analysis? Who won?

(Spoiler Alert: All of the campaign staff who will be filling up this comment section telling you that their guy won? They’re wrong.)

No one won.
And no one lost.
Well, except those who spent an hour huddled next to their external speakers hoping for something to happen.


And we didn’t really look at the calendar when the debate dates came out, but let us note a couple:

Governor Debate
Sunday, March 23rd (Broken Bow)
…which is also the date of the 2nd round NCAA Basketball Tournament games (well, “3rd” round, if you consider the stupid “opening round”). Hmm, Duke vs Louisville or Ricketts vs Carlson? Now THERE’s a difficult decision! (Hint, it’s not a difficult decision, and if you try to change the TV at Buffalo Wild Wings to the debate, you better be wearing a protective cup.)

Senate Debate
Monday, April 7 (Lincoln)
…which is the date of the NCAA Championship Game!
OK guys. This is right up there with your buddy and fiance who set their wedding date on the afternoon of the Nebraska-Michigan game. (“Yeah! Surprisingly we didn’t have any problems renting the hall that day!“)

Maybe there’s a chance that the times won’t cross-over on those days, but we don’t have our hopes up.


Hey looky-loo who is noting that Attorney General Jon Bruning is considering running for Governor!
Gee, hasn’t Bruning said at least twice that he’s NOT running?
And no mention that this has been “on the blogs” for a few weeks now?

(And the LJS’s Don Walton tweeted:

Jon Bruning confirms he may enter Republican gubernatorial race.

Yeah, don’t worry, we weren’t holding our breath for attribution of this WEEKS ago.

A few points from Robynn Tysver’s quote-free article (everyone will attack that, right?):
Pete Ricketts is considered the front-runner…
Really? Based on…?
Are there polls that we’ve missed? Chatter? Help us out here.

And then, since there’s not much else there, we will note that it would open up the A.G. race like a venus fly-trap.

So who COULD be in for that gig?

We’ve heard the following thrown about…

  • Former Douglas County GOP chair Brian Buescher
  • Lincoln attorney Mike Hilgers.
  • Former GOP Chair Mark Quandahl.
  • Lincoln attorney Doug Peterson.
  • Former GOP Chair Mark Fahleson (unlikely, we are told, but ya never know).
  • Auditor candidate Pete Pirsch pulling a (potentially difficult) switcheroo.
  • Senate candidate Bart McLeay pulling a (very unlikely) switcheroo. (This is probably not in the cards at all, but McLeay does like to stress his lawyering experience…)
  • Here’s a good one: Don Stenberg could do the switcheroo — there are term limits for the Treasurer job. His re-election would be his last term. Rumor has it that he would love to be AG again and be “free” from term limits.

We are sure there are others — and no doubt a few of those listed above wouldn’t happen. Especially considering that at this late date, anyone with an active law practice would have to make some major changes to their life and clients. Not everyone can do that at the drop of a hat.

Lots of crazy considerations.


Over in the NE-02 Congressional race, we note that Congressman Lee Terry has $800K cash-on-hand.
His GOP primary challenger has…$6K. Maybe not so much TV money there.

And Terry has also been given a new TV ad by the American Chemistry Council .
See it here:

Not bad for a freebee.


Rolling our eyes at the Chuck Whatshisnose Governor campaign announcement at the Capitol yesterday.

Keep in mind that there are very strict rules about bringing any signage into the Rotunda. Just ask Nebraska Right to Life if they’ve ever been stopped or warned about having LAPEL STICKERS confiscated before doing an inside event.

But for the Hassebrook forces? Yard signs? Banners? No problemo!


We are going to do our best to talk Governor’s and Senate race money tomorrow.

See ya then!


  1. Political Junkie says:

    I watched the debate in its entirety and was fairly underwhelmed. Sid improved his knowledge base quite a bit from the last time I saw him speak, McLeay had some fire and he appears to have just as much knowledge of rules/regs/statutes as anyone, and Sasse had some clever quips. I didn’t really see/hear anything that was memorable from Osborn, though.

    As the post notes, many of these were softball questions and many times the answer was the same as the next guy with some slight spin. I would hope some of the guidelines are altered a bit so the candidates engage each other a little more. Maybe the panhandle didn’t want the repeat of 2012 with Stenberg and Bruning going back and forth on their twitter activity…but give us something!!

  2. To Political Junkie says:

    You must have not heard Shane’s “Harry Reid” comment. It brought the house down. Sasse’s remarks on immigration remarks were interesting

  3. Interested Observer says:

    Since the candidates are all intelligent, fairly articulate and have almost identical views/positions on almost all of the issues, any substantive differences between them somewhat comes down to their ability to communicate their positions, once elected, to the other 99 Senators to be able to actually influence how those fellow Senators vote.

    That ability to actually be able to convince others to understand and accept one’s view should be the defining attribute in this election.

  4. Political Junkie says:

    Yes, I heard his Harry Reid comment….but he dodged the question of “can he say ‘no’ to the special interests” and then turned it into saying “no” to Reid. Each of the four candidates are going to say “no” to Reid on nearly any issue…so I didn’t really see what the big deal was there.

    And I fully agree with IO’s assessment…

  5. @ Fremont Voter says:

    Sasse said no deal on immigration until the border is secured–don’t even discuss it–and that Republicans can’t trust Obama.

    “President ‘You Can Keep Your Doctor’ Obama dissembles and deceives us to get his way.”

  6. Unicam Fireworks says:

    Glad to see a State Senator stand up against Chambers. Not yielding to a Chambers’ question seems logical, but like Senator’s McCoy’s filibuster of a Chamber’s bill last year; his refusal to yield to Chambers is a first.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If the difference comes down to their ability to influence how other DC Senators vote, how then is “Osborn was the only one who got suckered” unimportant in this matter?

    The question if Obama Care alternatives beg one to reveal their own chosen personal fulcrum point upon which they balance secure tyranny against risky freedom, a point on which we all uniquely differ. The question also reveals whether one is stupid enough to admit that point to voters when the acceptance of its specific application is uncertain.

    If federalized medicine is at all beneficial, then the question is how to make it fair, efficient and cost effective; like a good VA healthcare system. The VA however exists to serve uniquely federally compensable war wounded. Most Americans are not so linked to the federal. If Americans judge federalized medicine is tyranny, then there is no way to tweak that to be other than tyranny.

    If Sasse, Dinsdale and McLeay all feel the same way about discussing options, ala a tweaked up Romneycare of some sort, they at least weren’t stupid enough to say that aloud. It was Osborn who “got suckered”. A few days ago he gaffed a silly tweet about a short bus. Who suckered him into that?

    The Senate is a competitive, deliberative forum where 98 Senators try to sucker our two Senators into doing what is better for their state and not for us here in Nebraska. If a reporter here can publically sucker someone, during a Nebraska a debate, while that candidate is at his most careful, that oaf is dead meat in the senate gladiatorial arena.

  8. @Unicam Fireworks says:

    And McCoy also came across as an ass for dodging Chambers’ question. He’s afraid of answering if he supports a bill on transparency of superintendents’ pay? What’s he going to do, refuse to yield on the campaign trail?

  9. The gruesome truth says:

    It is a fool’s game to think that Obamacare can ever be defeated. It is the law of the land and the GOP doesn’t, and won’t, have enough votes to get rid of it. It can, however, be changed. That Mr. Osborn was capable of wrapping his mind around that fact just shows that he isn’t as big an ignoramus as the rest of the pack.

  10. Unicam Fireworks says:

    Please….Why would anybody acknowledge Ernie. All he is after is the spot light. Ignore Ernie and he becomes even more entertaining.

    Should McCoy have engaged Ernie and then given him time? That only gives Ernie more opportunity to insult Nebraskans.

  11. There’s a sort of inverted racism surrounding Chambers. People will routinely call him the smartest man in the legislature (c’mon, the rest of them aren’t THAT stupid), eloquent (when he’s mostly just a ranter), and a master of parliamentary procedure (from what I’ve seen he isn’t). They let him run over his time to speak, insult them, and even threaten violence, because they’re afraid they’ll be called racist if they call his bluff. And it’s all bluff and bluster.

    Good for Senator McCoy. Now let’s see some other senators do it.

  12. Good for Ernie says:

    As a Republican I am happy that Ernie continues to filibuster every bill. That means less laws created and basically guarantees that Medicaid won’t have the opportunity to be debated. Keep on talking Ernie!

  13. Concerned in Fremont says:

    Sasse is anti-amnesty? Pffff…. Up here in Fremont, we know better. The Fremont Chamber of Commerce voted unanimously to support the repeal of Fremont’s illegal immigration ordinance in February’s special election. Midlands is on the Chamber and had a seat at the table in that discussion. Doesn’t the buck stop with Sasse, or what? Supporting repeal of the ordinance is the same as supporting amnesty.

  14. Ricky says:

    McCoy V Chambers is like UNO Mavs basketball versus Creighton. I think Beau is still smarting from Ernie trying to end the tax free church institutions.
    McCoy has accomplished nothing in his career that I can see. He used to be Heineman’s butler right?
    And how much of Herbstreets money will McCoy throw down the rat hole in his run for Governor?

    Grow up Mr Bow Tie

    ricky from omaha

  15. @Ricky says:

    Does not take much to outclass Ernie. All it takes is:

    “No, I will not yield”

    Ernie then rants for 15 minutes on topics ranging from the Bible, Catholic Church to re-pelicans.

    Which is better than removing one’s lips and asking “How you feeling today?”

  16. The tragedy, Ricky, is that Chambers has accomplished very little in his career, except block bills. Ernie represents one district out of 49, yet that district is responsible for ¾ of all the murders in the entire state of Nebraska. It’s the single most dangerous place in America to be a black man. If Chambers had forged alliances, used what talent he has to try to write legislation that might improve things for North Omaha, it might not be so bad. Instead, he’s spent his time pissing off people who might otherwise be prepared to work with him, and engaging in other useful pursuits like suing God, trying to get mountain lion hunts outlawed, etc..

  17. Anonymous says:

    …except block bills

    I shudder to think what this state would be like if Ernie hadn’t been there for 40 years to block some of the idiotic legislation that was brought forward and would have passed.

  18. Fremont Resident says:

    Dr. Sasse supports the repeal of the our immigration ordinance up here. Don’t let him fool you otherwise. His family are big in the real estate business here in Fremont. Who do you think they want to rent to??? In fact one of the Fremont Council members works for his family.

  19. I was watching when Beau flummoxed Ernie … it was wonderful … more of our senators need to do the same thing … over and over again until Ernie learns that the Unicam isn’t his personal sandbox.

    In fact I did a whole post on it … bout time someone stood up to the Bully of the Unicameral.

  20. Chip says:

    Chip: “Thank you, sir! May I have another?”

    Ernie: “Your kissing my ass does not buy your freedom from the The Wrath of Khan.”

    Chip: “I enjoy kissing your ass. At least I see what real balls look like”

  21. Beau McCry says:

    Bobo got it handed to him today, and now it’s time for sour grapes. Herbster’s money can’t buy your way out of this one.

  22. To Fremont Resident says:

    You are correct. Midland is big in the Fremont Chamber and so is Peterson Real Estate which is owned by his step-father. They fully support having illegal aliens breaking our laws for the almighty dollar. Ben Sasse has lied to us once again.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Why did that supposedly “conservative” Chaz Janssen give extra time to Ernie Chambers to rant, rave and attack someone who stood up to him?

  24. Macdaddy says:

    It doesn’t matter what any of these mooks say about immigration. Thanks to the national leadership it will all be over by Election Day. I’m done with the GOP. I am more than willing to entertain the organization of a third party. In the meantime, can you say Speaker Pelosi with me? Good luck with your re-election Congressman Terry. Boehner just sold you down the river.

  25. Anonymous says:

    @Unicam Fireworks: You must not have been around the Legislature very long if you think McCoy’s stand is impressive. They used to take Ernie on regularly, the Chair would shut off his mike, they actually questioned germaneness of his rants. He didn’t get away with filibustering everything. Since he returned from term limits the body has completely capitulated to him. Sad to say but true. It’s not that hard to beat him at his own game. Stand up, take your time, rally your people together and take back the floor. Geez it ain’t that difficult people. Get some kahoonas. And to the guy who thinks it’s great that Ernie is talking as nothing “bad” gets passed then. Guess what? Nothing good gets passed either!

  26. How is says:

    Jon Bruning’s phone “exploding” with calls and text messages from people encouraging him to run for governor? Doesn’t he change his phone number at least once a year? Dear Jon must be confusing “supporters” with wrong numbers.

  27. Ricky says:

    That puzzles me when people blame violence in North Omaha on Ernie. He is just one guy who can not stop gun violence by himself. By the way guns are used in shootings and killings all over the city not just North Omaha. Somebody brought a gun into Millard South and killed a principal which was devastating but nobody blamed Mean Jean who was on the Millard School Board.
    That said Ernie does love for the camera to focus on him. The G O P wishes Senator Chambers was not smarter than they are but McCoy and Janssen and Kintner and my guy Nelson together are not as savvy and smart as Ernie.
    I relish Chambers stalling out the clock so Senator Loserbaugh won’t get his and Justin Wayne’s charter schools bill passed and lame duck no chin Heineman’s tax breaks for the rich won’t pass and voter ID won’t pass and changing the electoral college system in Ne won’t pass either.
    All in all a big WIN for Liberalism and Nebraska.

    ricky from omaha

  28. anon says:

    The fact that Bruning can own the media cycle today proves how he’ll change this race. The entire field hasn’t garnered this much attention during race.

  29. God says:

    I told Dan “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” raising less than $15,000 for congress was not what I had in mind.

  30. Somewhere in Middle America says:

    I could not understand a syllable that Dinsdale said last night. I’m not even saying it’s his fault, but on the internet feed he sounded like the adults in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. I think he was too close to the mic.

  31. To Anon 31 says:

    “Standing up to Ernie” was Janssen actually having the courage to answer Ernie’s question on the mic. Neither Carlson or McCry would do that.

  32. AG potentials says:

    I’ve also heard Lauren Kitner being thrown out there as a possible candidate if things get weird(er) for the Governor race.

  33. God: I love Beau McCoy says:

    Why do you think I made Herbster give Senator Beau McCoy a ton of money?
    I love McCoy because he is the most religious of all the Governor candidates.
    Even more holy than Mike Foley.
    I declare McCoy Governor of Nebraska


  34. Anonymous says:

    I thought Bryan Sloan was the Governor’s pick after it was clear McCoy wasn’t moving on up, despite his ads. One would think Lauren Kintner would be the Gov’s new main pick if she got in and what does that do to Sloan?. I’m so confused!! Sweeper, can’t you post a flow chart on the ties and loyalties for each candidate here so we can follow along? One for the Senate race would be good too. Just a little extra work for you.

  35. Political Insider says:

    Hey where has Chris Scott been anyway? Does he still go on Becka with his tremendous insight?
    I don’t listen to AM but I am really curious if Becka is still bashing the fire fighters and supporting Justin Wayne and Senator Loserbaugh and charter schools and expanded gambling and loving on Mean Jean. Curious about who the Political Insider himself and right wing talker Becka back for Senate.
    By the way how come Senator Laugtenback and Wayne never come on L Street and comment on stuff? They need to contribute and plug Ricketts and Jim Vokol and the Platte Institute and Charter Schools and voter ID and the pluses and minuses of craft beer V Bud Light.
    We need that input.

    ricky from omaha

  36. To #32 says:

    -FACT: Ben Sasse is the President of Midlands College in Fremont
    -FACT: Midlands College is on the Fremont Chamber of Commerce Board
    -FACT: Fremont Chamber of Commerce Board voted unanimously to support repeal Fremont’s illegal ordinance (special election 2/11)
    -FACT: Reversing Fremont’s illegal immigrant ordinance provides local amnesty for illegals.
    -LOGICAL CONCLUSION: Sasse is pro-amnesty. (Unless the buck doesn’t stop with Sasse at Midlands, and he’s simply a figure-head with no policy power, like the queen of England). If he didn’t fight for Fremont from Midlands, why would he fight for Nebraska in DC?

  37. To the idiot above says:

    There is no such place as Midlands College. At least not in Fremont, NE.

    There is however a Midland university.

    By all means, continue to point out that the blowhard Harvard boy loves illegals, but get the facts right.

  38. Chris Scott says:

    Ricky I am still here. Actually doing radio in Lincoln and Omaha. Sorry to hear you swore off AM radio because it is too conservative. You are more than welcome to listen to progressive radio by turning the dial to Air America. I am afraid you will need to obtain a time machine as they went out of business from lack of interest.

    While using the time machine be sure to stop by a school board meeting that was confrontational, lacked transparency, autocratic, and secretive. Or go to an OPS board meeting today where is open engaging, collabrative and opening up opportunities for kids.

    You can thank Lautenbaugh for not having a school board that is not always in the news for bad stuff.

    By the way Ricky what did you do with all your Suttle swag?

    Chris from West Omaha

  39. Drew says:

    So Osborn is the leader in this campaign eh? So why does Street Sweeper say “No one won.”

    Better rethink your support for Osborn.

  40. Tired of monochrome Nebr says:

    Lee Terry has it backwards. He’s running to represent the republican party to Nebraska, instead of representing Nebraskan’s in Washington as a republican. Everything that comes out of his mouth is pre-packaged screed straight out of the big government echo chamber.

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