Nebraska GOPers on Sasse

US Senator Ben Sasse & Mark Fahleson

After his Ubering and speaking gigs in central Iowa last week, US News and World Report’s David Catanese wrote an extensive piece on Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse.

He writes all about a potential Presidential run for Sasse, his Twitter wars with candidate and President Trump, and his looming Nebraska re-election campaign in 2020.

And he goes to some local folks to get an insight on Sasse.

He starts with Lincoln attorney, early Sasse supporter and former Nebraska GOP Chairman Mark Fahleson:

“Ben and I have never had any conversation about him running for president,” says Mark Fahleson, a former chair of the Nebraska Republican Party and close friend of Sasse’s who accompanied him on the Iowa jaunt. “He generally regards the talk as nonsense.”

Well…Mark knows what line to give anyway.
Of course, no one really believes that.

Former Governor Dave Heineman, Mike Kennedy & Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert

And Catanese dives back in with remarks from Omaha attorney, GOP worker from many campaigns, and President of the Millard School Board, Mike Kennedy:

“What is he doing in Story County?” asks Mike Kennedy, a 25-year Republican activist from Omaha who is a withering critic of Sasse. “It’s like he’s nationalized the office. It’s the senator above it all, playing on the national stage. I think the visit to Iowa is to test a sounding board for a constitutional alternative. He wants to be the Trump alternative.”

And Leavenworth St.’s past note that Sasse may be going down a Senator Chuck Hagel path, is reiterated by Kennedy:

Kennedy says he sees the same type of sentiment that doomed Hagel brewing against Sasse back in Nebraska. When Sasse decided to give up a seat on the Agriculture Committee — leaving Nebraska with no senator on the committee for the first time in nearly 50 years — in order to move to the higher-profile Armed Services and Judiciary Committee, it sent ripples across the state.

“It’s the Sunday talk show thing. [Ag] is not sexy. He wanted visibility. Ben’s all about Ben Sasse,” says Kennedy, whose vocal criticism of Sasse have grown so loud they’ve earned him a call from Sasse’s deputy chief of staff.


Well, at least Sasse’s staff is committed to outreach (with SOME individuals…).

And then the topic of 2020 — in Nebraska — is raised:

Sasse faces re-election to his Senate seat in 2020 — another race he has yet to commit to. That timing, in itself, would make it more difficult for him to mount a presidential bid.

Fahleson says Sasse is close to invincible at home, and that his critics amount to a small bastion of party activists still sore from their preferred candidate’s loss in the 2014 primary.

“If he runs for reelection he’ll win, he’ll have 5 million in the bank. No one will touch him,” he says. “There is no one out there.”

(Emphasis added)

Well, that’s an interesting one from Fahleson. His point about the amount of cash Sasse would have is well-taken. And it is something that any primary opposition would certainly note.

But the idea that he is “invincible” isn’t exactly canon in Nebraska. And certainly not around the party people — particularly those who still remember Sasse telling a Washington crowd back in 2016 that the Nebraska GOP “…are not necessarily representative of what most Americans think and what most Nebraskans think.

And the idea that there is “no one out there” simply is not true.

But again, Fahleson is saying what he probably should say.

Catanese closes with a quote from Kennedy, and a note about time…

Kennedy says Sasse has become more polarizing than meets the national eye.

“I think the party people are very skeptical of him. People are sharply divided on him. There are people who think he walks on water and a true deliverer of the conservative message. And then there’s the people in my camp, it’s almost Never Sasse. We see right through you. You haven’t delivered. Spend time writing bills on rewriting Obamacare, not on how to be parents,” he says, taking a shot at Sasse’s book.

Three years, of course, is an eternity in politics, both local and presidential.

But as Sasse showed, it’s never too soon to go to Iowa.

To hear more from these two, click these links to hear my interviews with Fahleson and Kennedy (individually) on The Wheels Down Politics Show.


Calling? Door-to-door? Hmmph!

The Washington Examiner has a recent story about the efforts of the Congressional Leadership Fund to send the message of Congressional Republicans across the land.

The CLF’s efforts include Nebraska’s 2nd District, which has been considered a swing district for quite some time.

The OWH also notes that the CLF has a full time staffer in the 2nd, as well as lots of student volunteers making phone calls and walking neighborhoods on behalf of Congressman Don Bacon.

Voter outreach sounds exactly what a campaign should be doing, right?

Not so fast, laughs Nebraska Democrat Chair, Jane Kleeb:

How weak is ? So weak he needs Ryan’s dark money SuperPac to knock doors over year before election

Bless her heart.
Jane wishes the Bacon folks were at home sipping lemonade instead of going hardcore grassroots and supporting their candidate.

Or maybe Jane feels that the more effective route is…protesting!
That’s it!

Those Baconistas should skip talking to actual voters, explaining the Congressman’s positions, and asking them how they feel about the issues. No, instead they should follow Ashford and Eastman around — preferably in black cloaks that have the F-word emblazoned on them — and hold up signs that say “Resist!” or “Not MY Congressman!” on them.

Now THAT’s effective campaigning.

And then the CLF should follow the whole thing up with a folk-music concert featuring a Socialist and anti-Semite.

But these are just suggestions, Team Bacon. You can do whatever you like. And if you think talking to voters (sniff!) is going to work, then well, whatever dude!



For your viewing pleasure, we will go all Platte Institute on you for a minute and draw your attention to an interesting comparison, from the Pew Charitable Trusts, of how the 50 states raise revenue.

Pew notes:

Taxes make up about half of state government revenue, with the bulk coming from levies on personal income and general sales of goods and services. Broad-based personal income taxes are the greatest source of tax dollars in 28 of the 41 states that impose them, with the highest share—69.6 percent—in Oregon. General sales taxes are the largest source in 17 of the 45 states that collect them. Texas is the most reliant on these taxes at 61.6 percent.

In fiscal year 2016, the share of total state tax revenue from personal income taxes grew to its largest percentage in at least 65 years. The share from general sales taxes also increased from the previous year, while those from corporate and severance taxes edged down.

An interesting look.


  1. But what about the numbers? says:

    Interesting post from Sweeper given that Sweeper thinks Fischer is untouchable (and he will never, never ever, talk about her in a critical way on this blog). One quick question: why does Sasse have better numbers in Nebraska than the untouchable Fischer?

    Morning Consult is out with a new poll:

    Fischer: Fav 49%; Unfav 33%; Not sure 18%
    Sasse: Fav 52%; Unfav 28%; Not sure 21%

    That is a net fav for Fischer of 16; and a net fav for Sasse of 24. One of those numbers is bigger than the other.

    Just sayin’

    • Carl F. Gauss says:

      Well that’s an easy answer:
      Because that poll is of Republicans AND Democrats.
      Sasse likes bashing Trump, so he will get plenty of Democrat support in that poll.
      But obviously Sweeper is talking about a Republican Primary challenger.
      Fischer won’t get one, and she will stroll through the General as well.
      Sasse is much more likely to get a Primary challenger. But if he wins the Primary, he will roll in the General, just like the rest of the statewide Republicans.

    • Sparkles says:

      Equally as interesting is comparing the recent trajectory of Fischer and Sasse.
      Two candidates moving in opposite directions.

      Comparison of Two Morning Consult polls – July ’17 poll vs (Sept ’16) poll:
      Fischer: Fav 49% (52); Unfav 33% (25); Not sure 18% (23)
      Sasse: Fav 52% (44); Unfav 28% (31); Not sure 21% (25)

      It seems the more Leavenworth St. and it’s followers trash Sasse, the more popular he becomes.
      Conversely, the more Fischer is praised here (and the more ‘sure’ folks become) the less favorably she is viewed.

      Seems to be the makings of a disturbing trend for Trumpster Leavenworth Street.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s because Fischer doesn’t have her face on TV nonstop babbling like a brook so one recalls the name or brand until reality in content are focused. Name recognition gets you higher numbers. Trumps votes, however, were 50,000 more.

  2. Sassifornia Uber Alles says:

    Ben Sasse has an image problem. He is like the geek running for Senior Class president using gimmicks to be popular to win the race. Driving an Uber in Iowa is not going to get him anywhere. I think Kennedy’s point on him quitting the Senate Ag Committee will resonate a lot more with Iowa voters.

  3. Sparkles says:

    By the end of this week it will be clear to the majority of Americans that the Trump presidency is over.

    The chickens, they be coming home.

    • Anonymous says:

      The current lead story at William F.’s National Review:
      “There Is Now Evidence that Senior Trump Officials Attempted to Collude With Russia”

      • Anonymous says:

        Even Charles Krauthammer finds the standard Trumper defense you are parroting, specious.
        Google it and read for yourself:
        “Krauthammer says these are ‘fatal words’ in Donald Trump Jr.’s released emails”

        It’s the winger’s intellectual overlord himself, Charles Krauthammer, in a Fox News interview with Martha MacCallum, transcribed by Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, dismantling the feeble underpinnings of your Trumper argument.

        And even this won’t demand a moment of reflection on your part, let alone change your mind.
        Because you people are a cult.

  4. anon says:

    Sasse trashed the President before he did a thing, and it is known what he has accomplished, is he going to grow a beard this fall for that face ala Ryan to show how metro he is. Also remember how much Clinton spent vs Trump

  5. NDP 2017 says:

    The NDP has no money, no candidates, no message. It has had one PR disaster after another. It’s the worst shape it’s been since anyone can remember. Even worse than Covalt, and Covalt admits he wasn’t a successful chair. Does Jane really believe she should be compensated for the trail of wreckage following her?

  6. The Grundle King says:

    It seems a lot of people…from both the left and the right…seem to think it’s a really big deal that Ben Sasse gave up his seat on the agricultural committee.

    What’s interesting about it is the fact that Ben is not renowned for his agricultural acumen…that would be a knowledge base that should be more familiar to our other senator, would it not?

    And how many people who offer this criticism of Sasse actually know what the role of the Agricultural Committee is?

    It just seems so intellectually dishonest to me that, following an election where most conservatives would have likely placed the matters of national security and justice far, FAR higher than agricultural issues on their list of priorities…they’re going to gripe that Sasse opted to represent their higher-priority concerns.

    It’s really far more simple than all of that…some people hate Sasse because he didn’t bow to Trump. And to put the final coffin in the whole “But muh agriculturez!” narrative…Trump’s trade ideas would do more harm to Nebraska farmers (and to farmers nationwide) than Sasse’s absence from the agricultural committee could ever do. But strangely, none of the Sasse-haters are bitching about Trump’s ideas on agricultural trade.

    • Anonymous says:

      No. Some people dislike Sasse because he is a showboat looking for the next stage rather than a senator taking care of we the people.

      YES! To Mike Kennedy!

      • The Grundle King says:

        ” Some people dislike Sasse because he is a showboat looking for the next stage rather than a senator taking care of we the people.”

        LOL. The same could easily be said of Trump…but I’ll bet you voted for him.

    • anonymous says:

      Not bow to Trump, his stand alone project, with a side job of hawking a self-serving book. Then the unique repeal/replace, his senate crew being the obstacle-standard establishment lip service. The article will prove to be spot on.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sasse is do some criticism because until the past week he has been AWOL since the election in facing the issues before the senate. It should be noted that Kennedy has never got over the thrashing Sasse gave Shane Osborn in the primary in 2014. He has been attacking Sasse long before he said one word about Trump.

  8. GOPWatcher says:

    Mike Kennedy and all the NEVERSASSE people have never gotten over their golden boy, Shane Osborn getting his ass kicked by Sasse in the Primary. All they are a bunch of jealous people who are being pushed out because they are nothing more than the Republican establishment and ignore his 95% conservative rating and his voting record.


  9. Colin Fury says:

    Why is Sasse hanging around Mark Fahleson? Doesn’t Senator Sasse know that Fahleson is the Democrat pinkos #1 ally when it comes to fighting tax relief? I understand everyone has mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay, but Sasse should watch his back. Fahleson pays his mortgage by vilifying any elected representative who questions our 6.84% state income tax rate. Nothing against Mark personally, but the misinformation he has been spreading is disgusting. I hope he experiences a road to Emmaus moment soon, repents, and stops working as Nebraska’s advocate for theft and plunder of Nebraskans paychecks. Fahleson in the very least should stop vilifying those trying to limit legalized theft in Nebraska. Sasse should put some distance between himself and Fahleson, until Mark converts to Conservatism. I mean all the legislature was trying to do was lower the income tax rate to 5.99%, after Senator Smiths attempt to lower it to 5% was rebutted in 2015. Fahleson’s efforts made it seem as if pro tax relief Conservatives were monsters. Is that what Sasse thinks? I doubt, his record shows otherwise, but what are we to think when we see the two of them constantly paling around. If we really want to “Reform for Nebraska’s Future” we should cut income taxes which will lead to economic diversification. Why should the state be entitled to over $2000 of every $30,000 Nebraskans earn? This is big reason why we are seeing so much emigration out of Nebraska. I pray Senator Sasse talks Mark out of his quest to fight income tax relief at all costs.

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