Seven weeks

NE 150 LogoGovernor Pete Ricketts has 50 days — ’til August 27th — to get at least 56,708 signatures to put reinstatement of the Death Penalty on the 2016 ballot.

That ain’t much more time.

Anecdotally, there has been word that it has been slow-going to collect the signatures. It isn’t clear if the 10% threshold of 113,416 signatures — to prevent the Death Penalty repeal from going into effect — will have a shot.

Getting signatures has apparently been a tough haul, though it could depend on who you ask. Some have had great success. But are there enough circulators?  It looks like they are really depending on the County Fairs to be a hotbed of signature acquisition.

One of their issues has been that they are unable to use the new process of paying signature getters by-the-signature. Right now they are only hourly. So when the paid folks (as opposed to the volunteers) are out in front of a baseball stadium or auditorium, they aren’t exactly carnival barkers. They are waiting for YOU to come to THEM. Because, hey, they’re getting paid either way, whether their sheet is filled up or not.

Seven weeks may seem like plenty of time, but as it winds down, don’t be too surprised to hear that the organizers are antsy.

And heck, this is only the first round — we haven’t even reached the “campaign” level yet.

But this is a big deal, and it is on Governor Pete Ricketts. He demanded the reins early on.

Most agree that Nebraskans are in favor of the Death Penalty. But it is going to take some work to let them actually vote on it.


I had a very interesting conversation with former Governor Kay Orr at her home earlier in the week.

(If you haven’t listened, take some time during your commute or your lunch hour or your workout to fire up The Wheels Down Politics Show — through the browser or direct download or through iTunes.)

And as I noted in the comments of the last post, there were some technical difficulties in the middle of our conversation.

Yes, I made the rookie mistake of letting my SD memory card get full. If it’s any consolation, I’ve already been mocked by my 12-year-old.

So the Governor was diving into the discussion of the tax bills early in the first year of her term, when I looked down and saw that we had stopped recording. I then had to pick it back up without knowing what had been cut off (such is the recorder I have).

Anywho, it wasn’t really anything you probably haven’t heard, but a few interesting tidbits got cut out:

When Con Agra’s CEO railed in the press that he may have to move the company out of the state because of the tax situation, it was the first Governor Orr had heard about it. She said she never received a phone call or other notification before people started scrambling.

As that tax bill was worked out, she also worked with the legislature to de-couple Nebraska’s income tax process from the Federal government’s. While the plan was to make it revenue neutral, it ended up raising taxes for some people — and she got hammered on that during the reelection campaign.

But there was also a correction process where people got back the money they had paid as an increase. Except that it was paid back to them automatically.

Orr’s advisors had suggested that everyone should instead receive a paper check in the mail (like was sent out by the Feds back in the early 2000s). But the price-tag to do that was around a million bucks — so she put the brakes on it.

And, Governor Orr pointed out, that was a poor political move. Had everyone received a check in the mail from her, things may have turned out very differently.

She also noted that while some vigorously complain about the corporate tax plans that were put together, they haven’t been changed since.


And no, I didn’t dive into the whole appointment of David Karnes thing.

Heck it has been over 25 years and emotions are STILL raw on that…


Other than running into her occasionally back on the 1990 campaign trail (I was a Daub for Senate staffer), I hadn’t really spent any time with Governor Orr.

When we set up the interview, she not only invited me to her home, but gave me a fantastic tour of her photo wall.

Anyone who has been at her level gets to meet luminaries and celebs such as Henry Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But some of the stories — like happening onto Barbara and George Bush as they were tending to Millie the First Dog’s new puppies — were also a kick.

She could not have been more gracious and more generous with her time — though I don’t believe she will give many more interviews like she did with me.

So, you too are lucky that you’ll get to listen.


We can wait for now to launch into a “Separated at Birth” for the new Nebraska 150 logo.

I don’t think I hate it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make fun of it…

(Feel free to send in your submissions via email, Twitter or in the comments.)


  1. Henry Robert says:

    I for one enjoy the new logo. I don’t see what is so bad about it. Why not get the College Republicans to get the petition on campus.

  2. Sparkles says:

    Most current snapshot of Nebraskans opinion on the death penalty shows –

    April 16, 2015
    LINCOLN, Neb – The ACLU of Nebraska today released polling showing that a majority of Nebraska voters, 58.5%, support alternatives to the death penalty. Only 30% of those surveyed support the death penalty over alternatives..

    .. Less than 37% of voters who identified as conservative support the death penalty over alternatives. A majority of Catholic and Protestant voters also support replacing the death penalty with an alternative such as life imprisonment.”

    2129 polled, margin of error +/- 2.12%
    Of note – the poll was conducted via landline, therefore one would assume this poll skews, slightly, to an older demo – meaning these number are even worse for Pete is you toss in the 18 – 29 (college) demo.

    Pete may have bitten off more than even his money can chew.
    I’m certain a big boost to the signature effort will come courtesy of the ‘WWE Smackdown’ wrastling event coming to Pinnacle Bank Arena in late July. You can bet your arse the Haymarket will be overflowing with hayseeds on that evening.
    Hayseeds, ripe for the petition pickin’.
    Also, maybe someone could compile a quick database of all the Tractor Pulls throughout NE over the next seven weeks. Pete and his shady GOP petition strategist can then turn loose their band of minions on the unsuspecting deep red denizens of Burwell and Wauneta and Gordon..

    Cause ya know, that’s exactly how the Founding Fathers envisioned our government would function.. Plutocrats and Minions.
    Smells like Freedom!

  3. Freedom ain't free says:

    We did not storm the beaches of Linoma beach during the Prussian war so you could be soft on crime. Petty crimes leads to big crime with big time criminals. J walking is a gateway crime and should warrant the death penalty. You cut in line you lose a foot. Texting while driving? You lose both hands. If you poop in a sink, you get a shovel to the nuts. Cheating on your wife? High five by your friends. Stop being so soft on crime if you want crime prevention. More freedom!

  4. would like to sign says:

    I have put in a request to sign on their website, 4 weeks ago, and I got a thank you e-mail and then nothing??? then I get an email to go to a town that is an hour away to sign the petition? doesn’t seem very organized to me.

  5. The Grundle King says:

    2:39’s post was full of some ridiculous hyperbole, but I did find one thing that I feel we could all agree on.

    “If you poop in a sink, you get a shovel to the nuts.”

    As it should be.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand. Ricketts has Jessica. She got to play with $12 Million for his Senate seat and followed that feat with Welch’s fifth out of five mayoral win. When you have a batter like that? What possibly could be wrong?

  7. Anonymous says:

    What’s confusing to 2:27pm is that the results don’t agree with his/her world view.

    I loved the “unskewed” 2012 presidential polls that purported to adjust the real polls to show that Romney was really going to win. Even Romney believed the “unskewed” polls.

  8. Ethics says:

    Anyone read the story in the OWH on the Kerrey home sale? Why would a Buffett trust buy the house from Bob? read the documents, very interesting

  9. YouTube says:

    There’s a video up called “Pete Ricketts’ Pro-Death Penalty Petitioner Drunk, Making Sexual Gestures At Passerbys” that leaves no doubts how the Pro-Death Penalty campaign is going.

  10. KHDS says:

    Giant mistake in picking the start date as that fixes the end date. Should have had at least one Corn home game before the end date. 50,000 signatures in one day.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It “smells” like the Buffett family does what it wants with its money. Just like we all do. Move along, nothing to see here.

  12. TexasAnnie says:

    I do wish Nebraskans an opportunity to VOTE on the death penalty repeal. But I figure IF they want a VOTE, they will sign the referendum, somewhere, somehow…

    Hey Street Sweeper: When Gov. Orr noted that her corporate tax policy hasn’t been changed, did she exude vindication? How about regret?

  13. Anonymous says:

    St Sweeper’s sources are wrong. It’s nothing but wishful thinking. The petition drive is on track to make the 5 and 10% signature requirement by Aug 27.

  14. It Smells says:

    It seems the Buffett family was behind bringing the “Carpetbager” here and helping him financially leave. Funny how Bob’s charming wife just had to bail immediately after the primary loss. Thank God Nebraskans knew what a phony he was.

  15. Sparkles says:

    To Youtube at 7:37pm,

    I have it on good authority that the Rickett’s paid petitioner in that video is -not- drunk.
    He’s merely one the of paid petitioners responsible for Rickett’s outreach to Nebraska’s hearing impaired.

    For voters who are unable hear, he is physically demonstrating what Pete wants to do Nebraska’s dwindling middle class, working poor and disadvantaged.

  16. Mortal Sin says:

    The problem with the death penalty campaign it’s hard to get 60,000 to participate in an execution. With Nebraska’s Catholic heritage and the church teaching it is a mortal sin to sign the death penalty petition it is doomed.

  17. Macdaddy says:

    The petitioner outside the DMV on this sleepy Friday morning looked like he was doing well. I saw 2 people sign (both bloodthirsty women) while I was parking and walking up. The sheet was half full which means that most people coming by signed it since there’s usually very little business at that office at that time of day.

  18. To Mortal Sin says:

    That is utter rubbish.
    The Catholic Church has said no such thing.
    And it is typical that anything your types can’t accomplish by persuasion, you go to LIES.
    We will no doubt be seeing more and more of this.

  19. Sparkles says:

    To the Idiot Above at 9:02am

    Re your comment: “Looks like a person abused by the Obama Economy.”

    You mean the Obama Economy the just heralded it’s 64th straight month of private job creation. An economy boasting the best private job creation of any President in American history?
    -That- economy?
    An economy that has outperformed St. Ronnie Raygun’s in nearly every measure.
    Of course, Reagan crushed Obama in one area – growing government.
    in fact, there has never in American history been a greater expansion of gubmint jobs than Ronnie’s second term in which public sector jobs exploded by 1.4 Million. It appears regardless the rhetoric, Ronnie loved him some big gubmint.
    Although, you have to tip your ten gallon hat to GW and his GOP clown posse. In their 6 years of GOP domination they gave Ronnie’s record setting gubmint growth a good run by adding 1.75 Million public sector jobs over GW’s two terms.
    By comparison, under Obama’s watch, we’ve witnessed a DECLINE in public employment topping -650,000.
    And while George the Lesser was growing government, he and the GOP were decimating the private sector. Over GW’s 8 year term our economy actually tallied a NET LOSS of privates sector jobs, totaling -462,000.
    Over Obama’s tenure that net private sector job creation is on track to eclipse +11 Million new private sector jobs. And, this number would be significantly greater if you didn’t have to the subtract the 4 Million jobs lost from Jan ’09 to July ’09, as Obama and Paulson succeeded in rescuing the global economy from it’s GOP inspired collapse.

    By nearly every measure, the ‘Obama Economy’ has outperformed almost every GOP presidency in history.

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