Candidates for Douglas County Election Commissioner already decided by Governor Ricketts

Ricketts 002Leavenworth St. has learned that, contrary to reports in today’s Omaha World-Herald, candidates for the new Douglas County Election Commissioner have already been decided on and interviewed by Governor Pete Ricketts.

Some have suggested that the statement in the OWH by the Ricketts office that they are “accepting applicants”, is a sham.

As reported in the OWH this morning, Dave Phipps, the current Douglas County Election Commissioner was told by Governor Pete Ricketts that he will NOT be re-appointed for the position in the new term beginning in 2016.

Phipps stated in the article that Ricketts, “let him know a couple of weeks ago that he planned to appoint a new election commissioner.”

The article goes on to state that…

…the governor “is accepting applications” for the post, and has “not announced who will be appointed to the position.”

Well, they got the “not announced” part right.

As noted in today’s earlier post, it would be very late for the average person to send in a resume, prepare for an interview for the job, accept it and then, if employed, give time to transition away from the old gig.

And it looks as if that does not really matter.
Did you see where to “apply” for this open position? (No.)
Were names given of who would be in charge of that? (No, but it’s Kathleen Dolezal.)
Were websites given? (No, but it’s the Boards and Commissions website.)
Any phone numbers or email addresses for applicants?

No. Of course not.
Because the applicants have already been decided — and interviewed.

Leavenworth St. has learned that there are currently 4 or 5 applicants for the position. A number of them do not fit the current trend of Douglas-Sarpy-Lancaster Election Commissioner being a young, energetic up and comer. In the past number of years, the job has NOT been a spot for someone who is at the end of their career, looking for one last gig. But that seems to be what is being considered very seriously.

And further, it is quite obviously a closed process. While this is an appointed position by the Governor, it is not exactly like a cabinet position. The County Election Commissioner is not giving advice to the Governor. The Election Commissioner is taking care of the sacred democratic process for the public. One would not think of this as some sort of patronage job.

But that is the way it currently looks.

And oh by the way, what if the OWH hadn’t asked about it?
Were releases sent out to the radio and TV stations?
Was there info about the job on Nebraska.Gov in bold lettering?

No, not so much?

It is unfortuante that Dave Phipps has gone out this way. If the Governor planned on canning him, he could have let him know months and months ago. Instead it all goes down at the end of November, a month out from knowing what would happen next.

It is surprising the way this is happening…but maybe not so much.

And once again, good luck to the person who finally gets the Governor’s nod.
And for the voters.


Taylor Gage, Public Relations Director for Governor Ricketts, responded to a request that to date, six people have applied for the Douglas County Election Commissioner job.

Taylor lists the following applicants:

  • Emmett Champion
  • Thomas Sisson
  • Christopher Chappelear
  • Steve McCollister
  • Brian Kruse
  • John Seiler

Gage did not list Dave Phipps among those applying for the position.

The job is posted on on the aforementioned Boards and Commissions website — in a PDF entitled 2015 July – December Boards & Commissions with Positions Listed — amongst 75 other positions on boards or commissions.



  1. Anonymous says:

    Phipps is being fired. Is there something we should know about the Commission? About Phipps?

    And what’s wrong with Ricketts? The only reason we are asking these questions is because other politicians would have gotten out ahead of this. Appointing a new person, after all, is less fraught with risk than firing an existing one. It appears the OWH didn’t learn of this from Ricketts’ staff.

    Normally when you fire a public official, you ask for their letter of resignation and then cut a release or hold a conference saying what a wonderful guy Phipps is and how he decided it was time to go. To let the OWH snag it as an unexplained firing is asking for trouble. That seems oafish.

    Ricketts has picked and lost quite a few battles that he could have avoided losing. He surrounds himself with people who like him run it like a private business. And while the business part is good, it’s a public office and distrust can arise from simply appearing to lack transparency.

  2. Liberty Rocks says:

    This is such a bizarre post to me. What is the point? Isn’t it the Governor’s prerogative to appoint the person he wishes? Why would the Governor have to notify Dave Phipps months and months ago? And what is the implication of “And once again, good luck to the person who finally gets the Governor’s nod.
    And for the voters.” Is SS implying that Governor Dave did such a better job. I think that he did not in his appointments and he left the state in shambles after 10 years of tenure – prison reform, child welfare reform, and general administrative laxity. Nostalgia must be ruling or maybe SS is in the bag for former Governor Dave or Mr. Herbster’s political machinations. I’ve all but stopped reading this blog and this is one reason why.

  3. To Elephant Remembers says:

    If Memory serves me correctly, the DCRP was involved in the previous processes and there were press releases on the application process. Ask McPherson, Castillo, or Phipps on how they were selected. This is a Jessica Moenning orchestrated pick.

  4. To Liberty Rocks says:

    What payroll are you on of Pete’s? The public one or the private one? Usually a person does a search for the best candidates unless a cronie has already been selected.

  5. Supporter of Pete says:

    Don’t blame the Governor. His advisers have done a bad job this past year. They have no clue what they are doing in Lincoln. As soon as Phipps was advised he would not have reappointed, they should have opened up an application process. Pete could have picked anyone and no one would have complained. His staff keeps making rookie mistakes ans what’s worse is Jessica Moenning. Her shadowy role with lobbying, policy, and elections is creating conflict that hurts Pete. Jessica’s current recruiting of legislative candidates is a prime example. The rumor on the street is she recruited Linehan to run against Borchers. What republican operative recruits a person that gives money to Brad Ashford??? What position does that put Pete in with Borchers and other State Senators? That seems like a big conflict of interest to me.

  6. DCRP Member says:

    Linehan’s campaign will go over like a lead balloon. We will confront her and the party at the County and State Party meetings over her support of democrats and working for Obama. LD 39 is a solid Republican district.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I agree that Ricketts can appoint who he wants. There are respected people on the list that could do the job well. Maybe it was time for a change to rebuild the public trust. BUT ………………….. Because of how he has conducted the process he is not helping his administration or the new appointee with re-building that public trust. Didn’t Ricketts campaign on a promise of transparency and openness?

    This is the largest county in Nebraska with the largest minority population. The job has had intense media scrutiny because of voter suppression complaints. There is a historical presidential election primary a few months away.

    It is clear that had the Omaha World Herald not contacted the Governor’s office when would the public know? Almost three weeks ago Phipps was told he would not be reappointed……… when was the Ricketts admin going to make an announcement about ANY of it? Legislative appointment vacancies get a press release with details and application process. Why not with this? What is the law of notification of a gubernatorial appointee vacancy?

  8. please says:

    Do not expose Linehan at the DCRP meeting!!!! Rumor has one actual voter from her district might be the. Oh the humanity!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I do not know what the law is for governor appointment vacancies. I am surprised that the governor could not issue a basic press release two weeks ago as a courtesy to the voters since Dave Phipps has been in the position for 10 years.

  10. to to please says:

    You miss my point. I KNOW the voters care. My point is the voters do not give two jerry odoms what the DCRP thinks.

  11. To 4:09p & 4:34p says:

    Chris may or may not be the best candidate for the job but it is not respectful to knock anyone for their volunteer work. Shameful. You obviously do not know all of the tasks, candidates and causes that he has helped for no pay. I am glad he was recognized for his hard work.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Funny. The gainfully ignorant seem to have lots of time on their hands to critique the motivation for why others can find the time to volunteer for others. Shows real class.

  13. Inquiring Mind says:

    Why was Chris placed on the Governor’s list if there was no formal press release on the opening? Did somebody stack the deck so it looks like a pool of candidates applied?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Not family. Not a roommate. Just a rational person who knows half of the candidates on that list and the value of volunteer work. Most of the people who read this blog probably also know some of the candidates. Unlike you, we would not agree with bashing anyone’s volunteer work.

  15. Anonymous says:

    There is not perfect candidate on that list. Yes, most of them have volunteered for many GOP candidates. None have a management or law degree. None have managed an election office or worked in an election office.

  16. Whhaaat? says:

    How does volunteering make you qualified for running an election commission? I’ve seen Apollo 13 so I guess I’m qualified to be an astronaut.

  17. Anonymous says:

    My point is that most of the candidates have volunteered for campaigns. Knocking one of the candidates volunteer work over the others is wrong and disrespectful. If one is going to be real about who is the most qualified – none of the candidates have election office experience or hold a degree in management or law.

  18. Anonymous says:

    All of those candidates knew of the vacancy just not the general public by way of a formal press release. Too bad that the people who all fund the position were in the dark. Another example of the Ricketts administration’s lack of transparency at its highest.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Good candidates. Bad judgment on the handling by the Ricketts team. It does not matter if he was required by law to notify the public. He should have issued a press release two weeks ago before the World Herald story broke. Now he has given the appearance of a closed process for a tax payer funded job.

  20. Chris Chap says:

    Hey guys just wait a minute! I’ve voted at the Douglas County Election office every two years for the last eight years so obviously I can run the show. How hard is it to hand out number 2 pencils?

  21. Good Candidates??? says:

    What qualifications do any have that is related to this. You do not hire a buddy or a lap dog for this type of post. Pete will find a good fit if he takes his time. I have faith

  22. Obama'sMomma says:

    Maybe the new candidate could move the election commission office a bit more out west so it’s easy for rich folks to get to and almost impossible for poor people to get to.

  23. Pole Stirring says:

    I met Karl Rove. He seemed okay, a bit stuffy. I have lately wondered what Rove’s particular heartburn with Trump is. It turns out Trump’s success may end Karl’s career.

    A year ago, Nov. 20 2015, in the WSJ, Rove cited twenty-three GOP presidential candidate hopefuls and possibles and yet Rove never mentioned Trump. Rove considered the strengths of Jindal, Walker and Perry, and of Fiorina, Bush and Rubio, two dozen who are out or now trail Trump. Trump wasn’t even on Rove’s radar screen. Ouch. Once a master politician, Karl is now a uselessly blind prognosticator.

    Being a prick in politics can be a plus but being blind to what is coming is a career killer.

    Rove was right about one thing, however. He said “Things will be different for 2016… polls will be meaningless until later next year.” Today the polls, per Rove, are no longer meaningless.

    Carl, You’re Fired!

  24. Anonymous says:

    To Street Sweeper – you are a lawyer. What is the law on the notification of an appointment vacancy by the governor?????

  25. To Street Sweeper says:

    Please give us an update from Friday. When is the deadline to apply for Douglas Co Election Commissioner? I did not see the Governor’s office provide that important detail.

    Have there been more apply since the Omaha World-Herald story forced the Governor’s office to acknowledge the post was open? Isn’t there a law that says they must formally notify the public? I do not think the Governor’s office responses to the reporter’s questions should be considered as a formal notification. When was the application to apply put on their website? Or is it always on their website but with no notation that it is coming open? How in the hell would anybody know to apply?

  26. Anonymous says:

    I heard rumors start right after Ricketts was elected that Dave Phipps would not be reappointed. The last two months rumors intensified.

    Dave Phipps was the longest serving Douglas County Election Commissioner. Like him or not he served the voters ten long years. We all know of his issues with the democrats and media. It is not a $25k cookie cutter job. He served the largest county. A Governor would want the most qualified person to replace him going into a major election year.

    With those circumstances it is very unusual that a statement couldn’t come out of his office weeks ago. It is simple. They do not want other people to apply. Why all the concealment? What is different with the application process for this position than a judicial appointment?

    Why couldn’t Pete Ricketts make a formal statement by saying he was going in a new direction and thank him for his service? Most of the public would feel it is time for a change. That is a positive for Pete. Silence until the requests for information by The OWH. And, it was all on the OWH and this blog to beg for basic details that the public should have had weeks ago. Does this affect our daily lives? No, but it is about projecting an open and transparent process.

  27. To Dave , err Amonymous above says:

    Dave you only stayed in the job because Heineman can never admit a mistake. Carlos got you the job despite there being other more qualified candidates. You screwed up several elections. How many people were left off a ballot because you sent the papers in late? Who intermingled ballots when Stothert/Lathrop were having a recount? Who screwed up the polling place downsizing?

  28. To 3:06p says:

    Not Dave, not his family or a close friend. I am looking at the logical implications of the process. There are stand up people on the list who could probably do the job. Wouldn’t everyone on the list and the Governor want to have an open process by notifying the public weeks ago? The assurance to the public it was an open process?

    If the candidates and the Governor are confident of their qualifications and relationships than why not make an announcement weeks ago? Why not let the public in on what’s going on? What’s there to be afraid of? Fear that someone on paper will be more qualified? The Governor can still choose who he wants.

    Every past election commissioner has had reportable issues even with a good staff. People and machines are not perfect. Every issue he must own whether he had control of it or not. I guess you did not read because I acknowledged he had his issues and that the public would probably like to see a replacement.

    My issues is that it is the lack of a formal announcement weeks ago that has not allowed the general public to adequately apply in time. High school graduate, lawyer or candle stick maker. Just give everyone equal time to apply. It is possible the list of names had weeks of notice. There is not enough time since last Friday for allowing interviews and to meet the Jan. 1 start date. That is not an open application process.

    Past Governors have issued formal release with details for applications. It is very possible Dave Phipps, Carlos Castillo, Scott Lautenbaugh, Mike Boyle, Margaret Jurgensen, and others were not the most qualified. At least there was a formal announcement many weeks before to allow everyone notice to apply.

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