Pete’s peeps

Ricketts 002When a new political leader comes in, particularly in the Nebraska Governor’s McMansion, the argument goes that he gets to choose the rest of the party leadership.

The Governor Pete Ricketts team is taking full advantage of this argument.

J.L. Spray is stepping back as Chairman of the Nebraska GOP.

Dan Welch letterFormer Omaha City Councilman, and 2013 Mayoral candidate, Dan Welch emailed members of the GOP State Central Committee on Monday spelling out his intention to run as the next Chairman of the Nebraska GOP. (See full letter at right.)

This was something that party politicos knew, but was confirmed last week on the Leavenworth St. Twitter feed as well. This was a bit of a twist, since just a few weeks ago it was a foregone conclusion that former 2014 Gubernatorial candidate Bryan Slone was going to be the new Chairman.

After Slone took a pass, Governor Ricketts and his peeps reached out to Welch, giving him their support. As Welch pointed out in his email, his candidacy is at the “urging” of Ricketts.


David Kramer letterAnd then, on Monday as well, David Kramer sent out his letter of resignation as Nebraska National Committeeman. (See full letter at right.)

Kramer noted that his decision was greatly based on family considerations — one that is very easy to understand, with a father of young kids.

But Kramer added another line in his letter:

As a partisan, I believe it critically important that the party be led by those who have the ear and the confidence of our Governor…

That can be read a few different ways.
Maybe it is just a generic statement.

Or maybe it is an expression that DK did not feel he had the Governor’s full support.


At this point, it is our understanding that the Gov is trying to convince J.L. Spray to stay in the mix — likely as the new Committeeman. And there are few in the party who don’t think Spray would be great for the gig.

Though many also thought he was perfect to stay in the Chair position as well.


In any case, as all of these machinations continue, there still hasn’t been a confirmation on how the Governor’s office will be staffed.

Is it really possible to have a someone who is both a private and public employee?

Take a look at this line from a recent news story…

Criticism had mounted in recent weeks over how (the Governor) had handed (an adviser) roles as an unpaid adviser in his office, and as a consultant paid to promote the same topics.

Now who wrote this?
The Omaha World Herald?
Don Walton at the LJS? (Ha!)

No, this is a story from The Oregonian, where the Oregon Governor resigned because an adviser (also his fiancee) had clear conflicts inside and outside of the Governor’s office.

Of course the difference in Nebraska, is that the conflict in question is based on an office adviser who would be paid not only from outside the office, but INSIDE as well.

Apparently Governor Ricketts thinks this can all be accomplished above board. And apparently his advisers think that will be the case as well.

It just does not make sense why Governor Pete Ricketts would be risking something like this so early in his administration.

One would guess that the Governor of Oregon wishes he had made that decision differently.


ICYMI, the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee (aka DCCC) named Nebraska 2nd District Congressman Brad Ashford to its “Frontline” program.

No that doesn’t mean Brad gets to host some sort of a PBS newshour.

It means they are immediately listing him as one of the 14 “most vulnerable” Democrat incumbents for the 2016 cycle. They will be providing him with “fundraising and organizational support” for his reelection.

In the next two podcasts on The Wheels Down Politics Show you can hear interviews with a couple of politicos who have some immediate thoughts about Brad Ashford’s candidacy, and the direction it may be heading.

Be sure to listen to the upcoming show yet this week. And if you haven’t listened, be sure to catch the interview with Nebraska 3rd District Congressman Adrian Smith — fresh out of breaking the fast with fellow Nebraskans in the Capitol.


  1. Don't sweat it Dan says:

    I heard that Bryan Slone did attend the Douglas County Elephant Remembers event last Friday. Ironically Funny. Mr. Slone still shows up to support the party after unexpectedly dropping out for chairman.

    Mr. Welch was no where to be found there. I guess he figured his formal email to voting members was enough. Less sweat involved for him.

  2. Lil Mac says:

    Ricketts’ US Senate campaign set his political positives. While Nebraskans were impressed after Ricketts’ warning turned out to be true (that Nelson eventually would perform some kind of partisan Democrat kickback), Republicans had already been impressed by Ricketts’ behavior during the GOP Primary. Ricketts didn’t proactively hammer his GOP opponents. However, that came at the cost of Dave Kramer shooting arrows into Ricketts as he hung on the public cross that is a “no-hammering” campaign. Every arrow shot is still felt. That aside, there is also the matter of Kramer himself.

    Kramer can be contentious. He likes to draw the bow and let it fly. On the other hand, National Committeeman Ricketts and Chairman J L Spray took an NRP that was threatening to become as volatilized as the DCRP and brought order and garnered respect. Welch is likely seen as a tractable stopgap while they look for another Spray. But there is no “probable” about Pete getting rid of Dave. Kramer is reaping what he sowed.

    Ricketts too can reap an ill harvest if he doesn’t adjust for gubernatorial level scrutiny.

    Sweeper makes a damn good point about Ricketts and his advisors. What was theoretically possible to Ricketts before he was governor now becomes substantial and far more scrutinized. If Ricketts doesn’t wisely apply foresight then he will painfully have hindsight applied to him.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Where is JL Spray’s letter of resignation? I doubt he is thinking about replacing David Kramer as national committeeman.

  4. Macdaddy says:

    Dear Governor Ricketts,

    As an unpaid advisor, or as someone who pays your salary, let me give you a piece of advice: you’re either in or you’re out. Maybe you’d like me to make it biblical: a man cannot serve two masters. Perhaps something from the movies: you karate do. You karate don’t. You karate so-so? Squish! Just like glape. Now let me make it literal: get rid of the inside/outside advisors. It was a bad idea to begin with. Really bad. Epically bad.

  5. Your DCRP at work says:

    Is this what the DCRP does in its free time? Trash the Governor and Dan Welch. Are you upset that Dan didn’t donate to the Elephant remembers so you can pay for more printing? Quit your bitching and put up a candidate against Dan. Oh that’s right you can’t violate the state Gop constitution and stack a chairman’s election. Keep burning your bridges boys.

  6. Here is the thing says:

    My first choice would have been to keep JL but Dan will be fine. My first, first choice would be Jim McGinnis. That guy would make it interesting.

  7. Bubble burst @ 10:21a says:

    Sorry to deflate your overly inflated bubble conspiracy theory. I cannot speak for all who do not support Dan Welch. BUT I and many others who did support Pete Ricketts in the primary and beyond do not agree with his decision.

    PS We are also not one of the DCRP Ron Paul Jon Tucker voter group. It is simple. Governor Ricketts made a bad judgement on the future of the state gop.

  8. Lezbehonest says:

    The whole private-public advisor thing is just a hairbrained scheme for Governor Ricketts to keep someone on the teat w/o reporting how much that individual is being paid. Want an idea of the sweet pay package? Check out some of those NADC reports. WOOOWEEEE

  9. @ lezbehonest says:

    Bingo. It is a way to pay that senior advisor a bucket full of cash with lots of perks state employees do not get.

    maintain a Lincoln and Norfolk home simultaneously
    lots of personal time flexibility
    keep the usual budget of designer handbags and attire
    keep some of her private sector paid clients
    husband’s new venture to advocate for hwy 275 Norfolk expansion state funding – inside intel now
    basically she can do whatever she wants

    Gee, must be nice to be daily running the state for Gov Pete Ricketts and Chief of Staff Matt Miltenberger with a bucket full of unaccountable cash, no real accountability to the state or taxpayers or no ethics oath. Don’t worry. All will be OK because Pete Ricketts said he will keep her in check. Pete Ricketts is not that intelligent to know better. Miltenberger is just the public figurehead whooping boy taking orders from her.

  10. Question says:

    What exactly has Dan Welch done since his disasterous run for Mayor?? He hasn’t been too involved in party politics and has done much to further the NEGOP in the past. This pick is pure Jessica and shows she will be running the party from the governor’s office.

  11. Anonymous says:

    What did the governor have against Bryan Slone? It does not make sense to me that he wouldn’t throw his support behind Bryan early on.

    Bryan and Dan are both nice men but Bryan must have gained a lot of good statewide contacts and fundraising abilities from his governor run. He also has good connections to the Omaha business community. I would think that would be more appealing than Dan’s only localized Omaha connections. Dan has only run locally for office. Just trying to make sense of the governors decision.

  12. Senior advisor and chairman says:

    How can the privately paid senior advisor to the governor be the one really running the state republican party and the daily operations of the state? I though the Ricketts admin official response was that her role was strictly community outreach, long term planning and setting up advisory groups.

  13. anonymous says:

    As an State Central Committee member out west voting in March, I do not know much about Mr. Welch. I keep seeing here that he didn’t fare well in his mayoral run. Why was that? Who ran his campaign?

  14. anonymous says:

    That canned Ricketts response is laughable. Nobody believes that the privately paid senior advisor Jessica Moenning will only be involved in community relations, long term vision planning and coalition building.

    Can’t prove that she’s not because of her private work space and private email usage and Ricketts public paid staffers are using private email accounts. Brilliant strategy to cover their tracks.

  15. Anon says:

    You know, I like Pete. But the people he chooses to surround himself with are really questionable. Jessica? Nancy? I don’t get it.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Bingo 11:56AM—if the Nebraska GOP’s goal isn’t to motivate voter turnout in the second district then it hasn’t checked the data of late. Welch is disorganized, but loves hanging with the big boys. He came in fifth of five because his ego wouldn’t allow him to realize the same as what the polling had told him five years previous–the voters just aren’t that into him. He used to be he was humble and kind. Knocked on doors and was a nice guy, but then? Now? Ego. He craps on people who took from being a nobody in the fifth district to put him in the city council chair when his campaign had no organization, money or message. Jessica got him nowhere in his mayoral run though she had her nose stuck in the correct spot to mastermind a trainwreck of a candidate and campaign. If he’s the state chair? The second will remain blue. By contrast, Bryan Slone shows so much promise.

  17. Macdaddy says:

    Anon 12:57, you think we can’t find out this stuff because she’ll be using her private email? Wanna bet? You want I should write out the wording for the lawsuit to turn over any and all correspondence and bank account info now? What odds will you give me that the inevitable FBI investigation doesn’t get leaked?

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