The #NE02 campaign begins!

Bacon campaign 02News that Don Bacon was likely to run for Congress in Nebraska’s 2nd District had been around for a few months now, so his announcement on Tuesday wasn’t exactly a surprise.

But what was a bit of a revelation, and arguably changes things immediately in the race, was the introduction of Bacon by former Governor Kay Orr.

Now Nebraskans don’t go to the ballot box and immediately say, “Who is Kay Orr endorsing? That’s my candidate!

And you can’t just say that Orr has the “Midas Touch” for candidates.


…she does have one heckuva recent track record in GOP primaries.

Deb Fischer in 2012.
Ben Sasse, Pete Ricketts and Doug Peterson in 2014.
There are plenty of other GOP endorers who don’t have those belt notches.

But probably the best thing that Orr does give a candidate, especially a relative unknown like Bacon, is credibility.

Who has any idea who Don Bacon is? (In broader circles, anyway.)
Who knows if he can put together a competitve campaign?

Well, Kay Orr endorsed him…so he must be someone to pay attention to,” says Average GOP Voter (and Donor). At the very least he is not someone who can be immediately dismissed.

Donors will pay attention. The media will pay attention. And primary voters will now pay attention.


Bacon’s rollout was a very smooth event, and one that any political operative would be satisfied with. General Consultant (and former Deb Fischer for Senate manager) Aaron Trost and Mark Dreiling put together a precise and clear event that had people in a good room, that just spilled out the doorway (as you’d want it to).

Their logo is clear and simple, and they also have the bonus of a candidate with a very easy name. While “Bacon” is easy to host puns on, it’s not difficult to pronounce or remember — significant for a political unknown.

Bacon for Congress logo 01

And the candidate?

Hey first YOU should listen to the Wheels Down Politics podcast for the FIRST post-announcement interview with Bacon.

In general (ha ha ha) he comes off as a very pleasant and kind person. When one thinks of an Air Force General, you probably think brusque and overly forceful. Bacon however comes off as an extremely nice person — and his kind descriptions of his present and potential primary opponents only enforced that.

He is immediately knowledgable about military issues, of course. His discourse on other political issues is a little more generic — especially after extreme detail about military issues — but one would expect that to change as the campaign goes forward. It would be surprising to find in a few months that he hadn’t really focused hard on a few more issues.

So with that intro and backing, one would have to almost immediately consider him a top-tier candidate for the #NE02 nomination.

Everyone is still waiting on Shane Osborn, and if anything Bacon’s introduction might give him some pause. If a nomination isn’t a slam-dunk for Osborn, it is possible he would consider other options that he has.

If Osborn does run, an interesting aspect is that military issues may be ceded to each of them, and could possibly cancel each other out. Bacon was certainly more of an administrator than Osborn, so maybe Offut type issues are different. But Osborn’s government and business experience may then be brought more to the forefront.

If state Senator John Murante decides to go forward with a run, he would arguably need to push out with a top Orr-type name to immediately give a campaign some juice. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

As far as we know Chip Maxwell is still planning a full run (at this point we would argue that he needs to re-announce, if he wants people to know that he is for-sure running). And we hear that while Dan Frei hasn’t made things oficially official, he is still more than likely.

Do Maxwell and Frei split voter groups? Do Bacon and Osborn? Bacon and Murante?

Is there another candidate out there who dives in to really split things up?

Are there enough donors?

Is it really only March?


In the last full post up, a quote was added from a source opining on how the Winner Take All vote could have been affected in committee:

“If Ricketts had done a better job of communicating with Murante he could have bottled it up longer in the Government committee and seen whether some trading could be done, or avoided the embarrassment.“

Another email was sent in, addressing that, so here is a bit of another view on all that:

I don’t agree with the above statement. As many readers know, the odds of a bill making it to the floor without a Senator having to burn a priority designation hinges almost entirely on if it gets out of committee early.

Had the bill died an early death like the Voter ID bill, then I could understand someone saying they should have delayed the bill to get all the ducks in a row before moving it. I would be more willing to fault the vote-counters had they passed the bill out of Committee and sent it to the floor if they knew they were a couple of votes short.

But Winner Take All MADE IT PAST THE FIRST ROUND OF DEBATE! The ducks were in a row! I’m just guessing here, but I would assume Senators McCollister and Ebke promised to vote for cloture (which they did in the first go around). Which means the action of moving it from committee to the floor was sound.

Holding it in the Government Committee wouldn’t have helped – if anything waiting on it would have forced Senator McCoy or Senator Murante to use a priority just to even bring it up. After that, it becomes an issue of keeping everyone in place – which is where things went south in this case. Spending a couple of weeks on ice in committee would not have helped shore up votes (especially when they clearly didn’t need them the first go-around). Instead, I think the exact same thing happens – it passes the first round, then Ebke and McCollister fold.

In my view, the Government Committee did a good job moving on it quickly and Senator McCoy did a good job getting it through the first round of debate (which was further than any other prior attempt, if I’m not mistaken). The fault doesn’t lie there. The fault lies in the two Senators who flip-flopped on their votes, in the Republicans in general for not being as united as the Democrats, and in the Governor’s people for not keeping an eye on the vote tally.

Issue addressed?


Remember that you can find the interview with Don Bacon — and Shane Osborn and Deb Fischer and Hal Daub and Andy Stebbing — and all of our podcasts at and by searching Wheels Down Politics on iTunes.

(Easiest just to subscirbe to the podcast on your iTunes app!)


  1. Who I'll vote for, and who I won't says:

    General Bacon is a good man with a compelling future. But no elective or private enterprise experience (at present). Sen. Murante, has vastly more experience in private enterprise and elective office. Dan Fry and radio talking head Chip Maxwell have experience at electing Brad Ashford to Congress. (They have demonstrated they know how to aid and abet the liberal opposition, and they do it well.) The most compelling candidate would have military, elective, and private enterprise experience. That applies only to Shane Osborn. Will Osborn run? Only he knows. I’ll vote for: 1) Osborn, 2) Murante (enthusiastically), and 3) General Bacon (also enthusiastically). BUT if the Republican nominee is either Mr. Fry or Mr. Maxwell, let’s just say I won’t be able to vote for either of these RINO’s, regardless of their conservative rhetoric.

  2. You too loved Hagel before you hated him says:

    You ask, “Mark Drehling? Isn’t this the guy that worships Hagel?”

    Firstly, if you wish to appear a witty critic, make sure you spell your target’s name correctly.

    Secondly, every Republican in Nebraska was once upon a time happy with Hagel. But Dreiling? Not especially that I know of. He was Stenberg’s political director in 2000 and I think he worked for the NRP and I know he worked for Quandahl. That his family is military is no secret. Republican veterans tended to stick with Hagel, just as everyone else did, until Hagel started stabbing Republicans on television. But I remember Dreiling before he was in the Air Force and he was very conservative.

    Anyway, Mark Dreiling spent the last decade on active duty military service. I guess that means he was working for SECDEF Hagel and Obama but you cannot hold that against our troops. Or is that what you meant?

    Just trying to help you get your snark on straight.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Whether you like or dislike Kay Orr, what does that have to do with her having a string of correct picks as a candidate endorser? We are all hardwired to be superstitious but patterns are patterns.

    If your bunion hurts right before lighting strikes your outhouse, and the same foretelling pain precedes three more strikes on the same spot, the next time your bunion throbs do you leave the outhouse or just sit there looking for bunion cream in your sears and roebuck catalogue while the thunder rolls?

  4. Ernie Chambers is a useful idiot. He distracts from the far more dangerous Bob Krist, Paul Schumacher and Kathy Campbell, all formally Republicans.

    Laura Ebke, self styled libertarian, is rapidly moving towards the RINO camp.

  5. EV says:

    Sweeper asks which pairs of candidates split voter groups?

    If the split is to be the least unhealthy one, then the choice comes down to either Frei’s Orr Bacon.

    All of it is greasy but at least Bacon has useful protein. The rest are indigestible and in Ashford’s case mephitic.

  6. Anon says:

    They may be able to hide committee votes, but fully expose themselves on their self serving debate to convince themselves to change term limits, Ebke even said it, but let’s see how she votes Krist and Pansing Brooks were laughable

  7. TexasAnnie says:

    It is stunning, at least to me Sweeper, that the e-mail opinion you quoted above (concerning WTA) openly argues a preference for vote counting and vote trading over deliberative legislating. The author of that e-mail even found “fault” in two senators for not delivering expected votes!

    Y’all need two legislative houses.

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