When your name ID was zero, you had no cash of your own, your military hero opponent was polling around 80% and your campaign was based on being “WONKy” — and you STILL end up becoming a United States Senator…
…your name is Ben Sasse, and you are the 2014 Leavenworth St. Nebraska Politician of the Year.
When 2014 started, many figured the U.S. Senate seat could be Shane Osborn’s to lose. Some would make a solid argument that Osborn DID lose it.
But, that would discount the astounding effort that Ben Sasse and his campaign made in introducing himself to Nebraska voters. Sasse almost immediately gained credibility with stories in National Review and Drudge, then racked up his own continuing story with his rolling Ben-abago, taking whacks at ObamaCare.
Sasse’s image as the fresh-scrubbed Nebraska-boy made good never really got tarnished. He was able to run a “positive” campaign — with affiliates taking care of the negative ads against his opponents. He NEVER was taken off message on ObamaCare, immigration or any of the other messages of the day. Are those issues nuanced? Sure. But in a campaign nuance can be attacked, and Sasse never let it stick.
Shane Osborn peaked then plunged. Sid Dinsdale seemed to have a chance at shooting the gap. But on Primary Election Day, Sasse not only won, but dominated, with nearly 50% of the vote in the 4-man field — taking 92 of 93 counties.
In the General Election, Sasse took on multi-millionaire Democrat lawyer David Domina like a Grizzly bear takes on a spawning salmon. Some Dems thought Domina was their super-best candidate in forever. However, Nebraska voters had no interest in him, and capped Sasse’s year with a 64% win — taking every county in the state.
Sasse’s domination of 2014 was as complete as a candidate would want. And beyond?
Many already want to position him as a Presidential contender (though not for 2016). An interesting matter was that with his laser focus on ObamaCare during the campaign — National Review had labeled him the “ObamaCare Nemesis” — he did not end up on the HELP Senate Committee that will address all things concerned with the Affordable Care Act.
Nonetheless, we look forward to Sasse’s Senate career, and whether he can mesmerize the rest of America like he did Nebraska.
We do not put anything beyond his reach.
…financed the political end-run around the legislature?
…gave the lone energy to Nebraska Democrats in 2014?
…was indirectly responsible for one of the few victories for House Democrats nationwide?
Holland financed the effort to raise the minimum wage in the state. He pushed aside the Unicameral, where that effort was circular-filed. The campaign fired up local Dems, who used it to not only push their issue, but to bank Democrat votes in Nebraska’s 2nd District.
And those banked votes lead to former Republican Brad Ashford’s victory over 2nd District Congressman Lee Terry.
It was a hydra-headed campaign that few Republicans saw coming, nor made much of an effort to counteract.
And Holland’s next (assumed) plan? Medicaid expansion.
Always funny that Democrats get their dresses over their heads about the “influence” of the Koch brothers on politics. But look at the local billionaire who slammed LAWS through in Nebraska. And he is likely not done.
And others in 2014?
The comeback of Governor-elect Pete Ricketts.
In the crowded Republican primary, Ricketts kept his head and remained the leader pretty much throughout.
You can’t look past his Platte Institute and party leadership for keeping him relevant after getting demolished by Ben Nelson in the 2006 Senate race. He built his way back up in the primary, then kept the hammer down in the General.
Ricketts has big plans for 2015, and politicos will watch to see how he follows up the tenure of Nebraska’s longest serving Governor, Dave Heineman.
And for 2015?
Well, many think the legislature will be where things happen in the coming year. If someone like Holland can make an end-run around them, they may figure they can make an end-run around the Governor.
The race for the 2016 GOP 2nd District nomination will begin in earnest this year. Many names and many meetings are occurring now and will continue to flourish in 2015, with much of the field set up by year’s end.
And hey…even here on Leavenworth St. things are happening. Exciting stuff is afoot.
What kind of excitement?
Happy New Year!
Call a cab (or a Lyft or an Uber)!