Volunteers with the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC make calls. (Ryan Henriksen/For The Washington Post)

Paul Hammel has a story in the OWH about the Keystone XL Pipeline hearings in Omaha. He mentions some of the people who are for and against it — focusing on the story of the oil spill in Montana.

And he tosses out that there were 4 Nebraska State Senators there in favor of the #KXL:

Proponents, who included two current and two former state senators, said oil pipelines were 400 times safer in transporting oil than railcars or trucks.

That’s sort of nebulous, right?

Proponents said…

So who were the State Senators?

Well, Hammel did find the space in a few of his Tweets to mention who they were:

Former Senators Mike Flood and Scott Lautenbaugh (both Republicans).
Current Senator Jim Smith (also Republican).

And current Senator…Mike McDonnell, very much a Democrat.
And not just a Democrat, but a Union Democrat, former head of the fire fighters’ union.

Now of course Hammel is legally obliged to print Jane Kleeb’s name in any story that hints of the #KXL pipeline.

But you’d think that his Tweet mentioning McDonnell, and Kleeb’s response (to Joe Jordan) that “Bold Nebraska doesn’t take issue with unions who support the pipeline“, would trigger some sort of news.

New Democrat State Senator and former union chief is pro-pipeline.
Former Democrat Mayoral candidate Heath Mello is pro-pipeline.
Former Congressman Brad Ashford is pro-pipeline…WHOOPS! Scratch that! Ashford needs to win a primary now, so he’s now ANTI-pipeline.

In any case, it seemed an interesting omission from Hammel in his front-page story, when it was a perfectly cromulent point to make in his Tweets.

But then again, why make a point in the Omaha paper, about an Omaha hearing, with a sitting Omaha Senator…when it doesn’t jibe with the desired point to be made in those first few paragraphs about someone from Montana?


Democracy Dies in Darkness

But if the OWH can’t cover Omahans, at least the Washington Post does. Yesterday, the Post published an awaited article about Speaker Paul Ryan’s Congressional Leadership Fund and their efforts in Nebraska’s 2nd District to help re-elect Congressman Don Bacon.

(If you don’t subscribe to the Washington Post online, you may be blocked from reading it, but the mobile version is available…)

The story’s headline, for some reason, focuses on the CLF’s efforts to elect Reps in swing Congressional Districts like the 2nd… while not mentioning President Trump in their messaging. But the rest of the story focuses on the CLF’s efforts to go door-to-door with a heavy volunteer base, pointing out Bacon’s support on important local issues.

They note that the Dems want the election to be a referendum on Trump, while the door-to-door volunteers keep noting where Bacon stands.

And the head of the CLF makes a few points about Ashford as well:

Ashford, “would be driven to the left to please Democratic activists and put away a primary challenger.”

Oh come on, would Ashford be pro-KXL Pipeline if he could be so easily driven…oh. Well. Scratch that.

And then Ashford can’t even bring himself to publicly state he would vote for Nancy Pelosi — who he voted for before, and with whom he had a secret meeting in Omaha — saying, “it wasn’t clear whether she’d even run for speaker again…”

Right Brad. Oh, and note that Brad also used to support Jeb Bush for President and will be “whatever you want him to be” when it comes to party membership.

It’s funny how the media will focus on the protests and marches of the Democrats, and emphasize the angry “grass-roots” on The Left.

But here are volunteers, a year and a half out, calling thousands of people and walking thousands of doors, getting their candidate’s message out.

That is impressive.
And THAT is effective.

Something tells me that these high-school kids are not chucking bags of blood at their opponents.


Bernie and Betsy Bros Bags of Blood

Ah and speaking of bags of blood, your local Democrat supporters have done it again, ICYMI. This time chucking bags of blood at the office doors of both Senator Deb Fischer and Senator Ben Sasse.

This, right around the time that Rep. Steve Scalise is released from the hospital after an attempted assassination attempt by a Bernie Bro who didn’t like the way some Republicans voted on health care, and tried to murder as many as he could.

Funny, I saw that Democrat Chair Jane Kleeb could give a comment about pipeline support and something about a “knot in the ass” but can’t bring herself to even criticize these Betsy Riot nutjobs who keep this up in Nebraska.

The silence is deafening.



And obviously, feel free to jump in on all of the national issues as well. Leavenworth St. tries to focus on the Nebraska angles when possible.

So while the Health Care debate is interesting of course, both of Nebraska’s Senators have voted to repeal and replace, or repeal and later replace.

And while the transgender soldiers issue will be in the news, there is no current procedure worked out for anything, so that discussion will be a lot of heated nothing for a while.

But that never stopped you.

So while you’re diving into that, Commenters, two questions for you:

1) Who are the Democrats going to run for Governor?
2) Who are the Democrats going to run for U.S. Senate?

Whether they have a prayer at winning either of those seats is moot for now.
Is Bob Kerrey going to move back soon?

Dive in.

Stothert for Governor…Mayor…

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, and supporters

Speaking with News Channel Nebraska‘s Joe Jordan earlier in the week (and is it just me or does “sandhillsexpress.com” need a new URL?), Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert put forward a couple of tantalizing plans for her political future.

After completely shutting down any ideas of her running for the House or Senate, she left another two open:

1) Running to become the first 3-term Mayor in Omaha
2) Running for Governor in 2022.

The Mayor’s 2nd term will be up in 2021.
And other than having the job that arguably has more effect on people’s daily lives than any other elected position, there are a few other “political” perks:

When you run, it’s a bang-bang Primary and General. No one likes raising money and no one really likes the forever campaigns that take an entire year. The public’s focus only really lasts so long, and having the Primary and General only a month apart is an attractive part of running for Mayor.

The other is the idea of being the longest serving Mayor in Omaha history. You’ve heard that mentioned about Dave Heineman as Nebraska Governor, and he is likely to be in the record books for some time (note that he took over after Mike Johanns left to become Ag Secretary, so his two terms were on top of that, before being term-limited).

Being a two-term Mayor — and the first woman to do so — is significant, but being a THREE term Mayor would solidify her place in Omaha history.

Ah but what of the 2022 Governor’s race?

It will (likely) be an open seat. And the Republican primary is often the real battle for the race. Any of those dynamics could change, but coming from one of the top political offices in the state would be a good jumping-off point.

And if Stothert made that decision, she would most very likely not be running for re-election in 2021, instead turning her full attention to 2022.

She’ll have a few years before decisions will need to be made, but the options on the table are interesting.

And we’ll only have to wait three years to find out!


Murante for Treasurer

Well, the waiting is no-longer for State Senator John Murante of Big Fred’s Gretna.

He will be making an announcement on his future political plans at 10:30am on Monday the 24th in the Capitol rotunda.

The word is State Treasurer, as has been noted here before.

We haven’t heard much yet from the other person who already has a web site up, Taylor Royal.

Royal has a site up under “TaylorJRoyal.com“, and an early Google ad had it up as his State Treasurer site. But he side-stepped that when asked, and now the site has a timer on it, ticking down to 31+ days.

Which means it’s up on either August 21st or 22nd (my math’s not that good).

So either he’ll be announcing near one of those days….OR he is REALLY looking forward to the Solar Eclipse, and he’s just getting us all ready.

Question will be if anyone else wants to jump in that GOP Primary.


Eyes on August

As the Health Care debate rages on, reporters are trying to tug info from the various players. Senator Ben Sasse is all for the “repeal now, then figure something else out later” approach. Some, like Rand Paul, favor that plan (though Jonah Goldberg for one questions the sincerity of Paul‘s position).

Yesterday on her weekly call with reporters (which, by the way, not every Senator does, by any means) Senator Deb Fischer was cagey about what she wants out of a Health Care proposal.

She noted that the Senate will likely start with the House version, then start the amendment process. She also noted that she would prefer repeal and replace at the same time.

During the call, she took a moment to note that the biggest issue she hears from constituents is the issue of  affordability. She noted that people have found their premiums skyrocketing and their deductibles over the moon.

Pretty sure that’s not what was promised under Obamacare.

Could be an exciting August.


Fix-It Felix

And for your watching pleasure, check out this video from Prager University on why Government Can’t Fix Healthcare. (Hint: it needs to be market based.)

Nearly all of the Prager U videos are great. Pick your favorite on any subject and you’ll be enriched in a few minutes.


Have a great weekend! (And remember to follow Leavenworth St. on the social media to keep updated all weekend long!

Follow @LeavenworthSt on the Twitter
Like Leavenworth Street – the talk of Nebraska politics on The Facebook

Numbers of the Day

Congressman Don Bacon announced his campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission yesterday — raising over $270K for the second quarter of 2017, with a total of over $500K for the year.

So let us compare a couple of other announced candidate for #NE02.

Kara Eastman announced for the 2nd District seat, officially, on May 24th. She had things in the works before then of course, and started fund raising right away.

So, while Don Bacon raised $270K during that period, Kara Eastman raised…$30K. And she’s already spent half of that.


And then there’s Brad Ashford.

FORMER REP Brad Ashford.

Now Ashford announced about a month ago. BUT, he stated back in APRIL that you could “take it to the bank” that either he or his wife would run for Congress.

Well, it doesn’t seem that Ashford has been making too many trips to the bank at all.

Ashford’s total receipts this year: $12K.

(And he’s spent about $9K of that.)

Hey kids, it’s not ALL about money.

But then you have to have SOME money to actually run, you know, a campaign.

That being said, this is the Democrat primary we’re talking about, so a few of those meet-up posters stapled to the light pole outside of Whole Foods should pretty much do it… and bang, Primary.



The other numbers we can throw out (H/T LJS’s Zach Pluhacek) are those from the Morning Consult which show Governor favorability across the nation.

Nebraska’s Pete Ricketts did not crack the Top Ten…but he did hit the Top 15:

In the mean time, some Democrat and Bob Krist are hoping to split up that 28%.

Leavenworth St. has heard other numbers that indicate Ricketts with more faltering numbers than that, particularly in the 2nd District. And then Don Walton is convinced that the torches and pitchforks are coming from Greater Nebraska.

But for Ricketts? Hey he’s doing better than the Cubs right now…



Oh and hey, speaking of those Democrats that we discussed above.

It seems that the Black Caucus of the Democrat Central Committee has taken out their wrath on Chelsey Gentry Tipton (remember her), for her Facebook comments after the assassination attempts in the DC area.

The Black Caucus “censured” her and removed her as Chair of the Caucus.

And good for them. Seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but here’s kudos when they do the right thing.

It would just be nice if the rest of the party could get a handle on the other cretins running amok amongst their supporters.

This time it was “someone” throwing what appeared to be fake blood on the door of Senator Deb Fischer’s office in Lincoln.

Isn’t that lovely.

And who do you suppose did this?
The Tea Party?
The YRs?


“A sticker belonging to Betsy Riot, a progressive protest group, was found on the door as well…”

So there you go.

Hey Democrats, how about while you’re making motions in your committees you get a hold of the rest of the nutjobs in your party.

The ones who throw blood and the ones who wear masks and the ones who march around with “FUDGE!” on their shirts (but it doesn’t say “fudge”…).

You claim to want to have a decent dialog and then this is what we see on a weekly basis from your supporters.

They’re your people. Figure it out.


Follow @LeavenworthSt on the Twitter
Like Leavenworth Street – the talk of Nebraska politics on The Facebook

Bacon Bacon Bacon

Congressman Don Bacon’s campaign announced today that he has raised over $270,000 for the second quarter of 2017, for a combined total of over half-a-million dollars raised this year.

This is the first time that a Second District Nebraska Congressman has raised over half-a-million dollars by the midpoint of a non-election year.

As a point of comparison, Brad Ashford raised under $355,000 at this same point two years ago, with only $155,000 raised during the second quarter.


Bacon Ads

In the mean time, the mini ad-war has already begun for the 2nd.

Oh, there are the pro-Bacon ads being run by the CLF, like these:

And then there are the negative ones, being run by MoveOn.org, like this:

That’s some pretty harsh stuff on Congressman Coffman…wait a minute.

Wait, no, Congressman Jason Lewis.

No, he doesn’t rep #NE02…

Oh, HERE it is.

No, that’s Darrell Issa.

Oh well. Point is, MoveOn.org doesn’t like a whole bunch of Congressmen who haven’t condemned most of the Trump family for their meetings.

(Wait til they find out that Brad Ashford was an early Jeb Bush supporter…)


Bacon Eds

Bacon also wrote an Op-Ed on the Fox New website published over the weekend.

He wrote, in part:
A defense bill to repair, restore and rebuild the world’s best military

When I joined the military in the 1980s, we flew double the number of flying training hours over our nearest competitors and had nearly twice the number of active-duty airmen. We had better tanks in the Army, better ships in the Navy, better planes in the Air Force, better technology in each Service, and were better in about every military capability. I have seen this American advantage slowly evaporate in every respect.

I was charged with preparing our forces to prevail over any adversary while commanding five different organizations, ranging from the squadron-level to base commands. Because of the massive budget reductions while in war, we are today trailing our peer adversaries in training, and our modernization programs and readiness stats are in the toilet. It is unconscionable to send our warriors to fight without every possible advantage.

This year’s National Defense Authority Act (NDAA) will begin to “right the ship” with a 10 percent topline increase. The NDAA directs the Department of Defense to reform their acquisition process to streamline bureaucracy and drive efficiency through competition. This bill highlights the repairs needed for better space and cyber capability to meet the equally expanding vulnerabilities in those areas. It restores a fully funded 2.4 percent military pay increase and grows the number of service members equally with our new global threats.

Read the entire piece here.


Follow @LeavenworthSt on the Twitter
Like Leavenworth Street – the talk of Nebraska politics on The Facebook

Ashford: Russian hacking may have led to my loss!

Democrat candidate for Congress, Brad Ashford was on the 1290 KOIL Matt Tompkins Show yesterday.

And he mumbled out this doozy:

I know this. What I DO know is that…as we’ve talked about on the show before is that our (campaign) emails were hacked in July and August of last year.
And we also know we were micro-targeted like some of the other races around the country by a few groups that may or may not have had access to Russian information.
I don’t know what impact that had on the election.

(At about the 32:00 mark of the show, if you want to listen…)

What. The. Hell?????

OK, Brad, if YOU’RE bringing it up, what exactly are you saying???

Are you suggesting that…what? That there was some sort of Russian micro-targeting that led to 2nd District voters choosing Don Bacon over you?

Was there something that came out from this “hacking” that turned the tables?

Enquiring minds want to know what in the hell you’re talking about!


Krist-mas in July

Well, State Senator Bob Krist has made if pseudo-official and declared himself a non-Republican.

Krist tells WOWT that he may challenge Governor Ricketts and…

He says he’s leaving the Republican Party and will now be an Independent politician.

Interesting that.

Well the Nebraska GOP’s ED, Kenny Zoeller, jumped to it and noted a few things about “Flip-Floppin’ Bob Krist”:

On July 13th, Senator Krist went back on a previous statement and switched political parties despite stating the following just two months ago:

“It has been suggested that I should run as an independent,” Krist said during an interview, thereby avoiding a direct GOP primary confrontation with Ricketts.

“But I am what I am,” Krist said. “I’m a Republican and I’m a centrist. I am not going to change my coat.”

This should come to no surprise to anyone as Senator Krist has a long history of saying one thing and doing another:

    • Flop: Introduces a bill to increase property taxes by $448 million over the next two years.
    • Flip: Promises to support reducing the cloture rule to 30 votes.
    • Flip: Senator Krist giving his word to vote for LB10 in 2016.

Psst! And THIS way, Krist won’t have to run in a Primary against anyone!
Looks like Jane and the Dems got their deal.
Now all they have to do is convince the ghost of Frank Morrison to run again…


Sasse über alles

Slate.com (weren’t they supposed to be a “magazine”?) put out  a lengthy article about Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse yesterday.

The folks on the Twitters were a little abuzz, noting the general regret about Senator Sasse. The gist?

The headline sums it up, for them:

The Wasted Mind of Ben Sasse: The Nebraska senator has urgent, persuasive ideas for saving American politics. Why won’t he act on them?

And all the Twitter-guys go…Yeah Slate! Exactly.
Though most for different reasons.

Some who have/had hope in Sasse, note that the guy who was supposed to be the “Obamacare Nemesis” has been anything but. One expected that he would be leading the charge, throwing around proposals, arguing the finer points of health care and insurance on FOX and MSNBC in back-to-back appearances.

Instead, his boldest proposal has been, “Let’s do this…later!

Which was all between book-tour appearances.

But there are others — from a leftier side of things — who also are “disappointed” in Sasse. And this is the side that Slate comes from:

See, they saw the Ivy League educated young Senator who has been busting Donald Trump’s balls since he made his way down the escalator…yet he still votes with the Republicans?

Sure the writer, Ben Mathis-Lilley, wants you to at-first believe that he doesn’t expect Sasse to vote like a Democrat…

What is most maddening about Sasse is not his party fealty per se—I’m not expecting a Republican senator to support left-wing policies; that’s not the standard we should hold him to—but the way he has outlined the basis for a path he has yet to take himself.

Riiiiiight. He’s not holding Sasse to a Democrat standard at all!

Oh wait. Yes he is:

But at the same time, Sasse’s Senate votes have so far aligned with Trump’s wishes 95 percent of the time, the same level of support that Trump has gotten from right-wing ideologues like Ted Cruz and party loyalists like Chuck Grassley.

And just so we can clearly nail down his real beef with Sasse, it’s right here:

At some point Sasse will have to actually interrupt Bill Maher; he’ll have to actually run against Donald Trump instead of suggesting that it would be nice if someone else did; he’ll have to challenge his own president not just by tweeting but by putting a hold on an executive-branch nominee until the Judiciary Committee, of which he’s a member, agrees to hearings on Trump’s obstruction of the FBI’s Russia investigation; he’ll have to refuse to vote for a motion to proceed on the health care bill until it gets a public hearing. It will be hard work, and he will get a lot of blowback from his own party and its dogmatic activists.

It’s comical really.

Here’s the deal: If Sasse hadn’t been the stone in Trump’s shoe, this article would NEVER have been written. Instead, they see Sasse as one of them: “He’s an East-coaster dressed up as a Nebraska yokel. He’s just fooling them! When will he come out and vote the way we want him to?!”

Of course if Sasse wants to prove himself among conservatives, he’ll also have to come up with a few more bold ideas that he can actually shepherd through the swamp. And of course he may have to cooperate with The Donald President in order to accomplish that.

The TED talks only get you so far.

Fischer talks Trump (Jr.)

Senator Fischer & an office VIP…along with Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch

On her weekly press call today, Nebraska U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, responding to a question, noted that were she in a similar situation as Donald Trump, Jr., she would NOT have taken the meeting with the Russian attorney regarding campaign information.

This was about as far as Fischer would go, noting that she was waiting for the results from the Special Counsel Investigation before passing any judgment on the matter further.

She did also note that there has been no facts presented by anyone that Russia affected the voting procedures in any state, or otherwise tampered with the voting process. She did not argue that Russia did or likely did attempt to influence the election.

And just as long as everyone is going to dive in on the subject, here are a couple of interesting notes:

1) From National Review’s Dan McLaughlin: “It’s Not Treason, but It’s Not Defensible, Either

2) Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz: “Dershowitz slams New York Times op-ed for broaching Trump Jr. treason charge

A couple reviews from legal scholars about legal things.



Brad Ashford finally decided to take that big step and move away from his 2016 Twitter account.

He snatched up @BradAshford18 — dropping the “@BradAshford16” account altogether.

Ashford had been hanging on to that “16” account for some time, awkwardly using it as his 2018 campaign Twitter handle.

Alas, about 20 minutes after I followed him on the Twitter…

And, then his Twitterati reached out to my personal Twitter account, and blocked that too.

(Not to worry readers, he can’t block ALL of my accounts….MMWUHAHAHahahahhahhaha!)


Hey, FWIW, his opponent isn’t afraid of me:



Fischer v Hack

And as long as we are discussing Senator Fischer, note that there is conflict in the Senator’s Washington office:

Both Senator Fischer, and her Chief of Staff, Joe Hack, have conflicting campaigns up right now…in the “Cutest Dogs on the Hill” competition.

Senator Fischer has her dog, Fred, in the running.

Hack has his dog, Rocco, in the competition.

In this election, it should be remembered that there are two outcomes for one’s pooch:

1st place.


When asked how people should vote, Senator Fischer simply replied:


(We wait to see what their FEC and COH numbers look like…)


Follow @LeavenworthSt on the Twitter
Like Leavenworth Street – the talk of Nebraska politics on The Facebook

Net Neutrality Day of Action

Cross of Corn is a contributing writer on Leavenworth St.

You may have heard some rumblings of a so-called “Net Neutrality Day of Action” this week featuring some of your favorite websites.   The so-called on-line protest is supported by lefties like NARAL, The Nation, MoveOn.org and BoldProgressives.org.   In today’s era of Fake News, here’s what’s really going on and what this is all about:


What is Net Neutrality?

This is the policy term that essentially means all internet users, stakeholders, and their online activity and content should be treated fairly and equally. Internet service providers (ISPs) should not be allowed to interfere with the data crossing their networks and the rules of the internet should ensure an open and dynamic platform for all. Basically, everyone and their dog (even Sen. Ted Cruz’s dog Snowflake) supports net neutrality.


So, what’s the problem?

The net has been neutral and thriving since its creation—but I don’t have to tell you that. Our society enjoys the boon of technological and life-improving advances enabled by the internet (without my weather app, I’d have to go OUTSIDE to check the rain gauge so I would have something to talk about over coffee at the Farmers Co-op). For years, a bipartisan slew of lawmakers and regulators in Washington, D.C. advanced policies that enabled unfettered access without stunting the growth of the internet, allowing networks to expand and connect more communities and help get more folks online.

Fast-forward to 2015: the Obama Administration reversed decades of that successful policy by applying highly controversial and much more restrictive public utility regulations, also known as Title II, on the internet. Created to regulate the telephone industry of the 1930s, these utility regulations make it more difficult for internet companies to invest in growing their networks and focus on the development of new products and services (think Elizabeth Warren regulating your internet).  Essentially, an unprecedented step in the wrong direction.

The Obama Administration conflated Title II with net neutrality, arguing that one could not exist without the other—despite the fact that it had, for decades.  


What’s the solution?

It’s possible to secure an open internet without this silly attempt by progressives to over-regulate the internet. Those behind this Day of Action know this.  For some, it’s about cronyism.  For others, it’s about government control.

Rather than letting the FCC continue to play ping-pong with this issue with each changing Administration, Congress needs to step in and find a permanent legislative solution.  One that protects the essential principles of an open internet while removing the overarching Title II-public utility regulations imposed by Obama-era regulators.  Nebraska’s delegation appears solid on this issue, but the rest of the 530 voting members of the House and Senate need to support legislative action that creates lasting, commonsense policy that returns the internet to the approach that garnered extraordinary success and innovation.   That should be our call to action.



Leavenworth St. is aware of the current slow page-loading issues.

We’re working on it.


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.

Pete Ricketts for…President?

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts with then-candidate Donald Trump in Omaha in 2016


After posting, Leavenworth St. received a statement from Ricketts for Governor campaign manager, Jessica Flanagain (formerly special adviser to the Governor for external affairs). See that statement at the bottom of the post.

So I got this one this morning:

Nebraska Governor (and Chicago Cubs co-owner) Pete Ricketts has…allegedly…apparently…been calling various people to form a committee to discuss whether he should run for President.

As you pick your jaw up off the keyboard, here’s what I have been told…or rather NOT told:

No word if this is about 2020 or 2024.

And that question is the real kicker.

So let’s hit the more logical route first:



Why start discussing an office that’s 7 years away now, when ANYTHING could happen between now and then? Why bring this up when word of this would get out very soon (like now)…only a month after Ricketts announced his re-election campaign for Governor?

Maybe he figures after former Speaker Mike Flood’s drop-out, he’s got the election in the bag, so no time like the present onto bigger and better things?

But 2024 is is so far away and just a little bizarre to actually open the Presidential run discussion.

Wouldn’t Ricketts be better off just doing his trade deals, cutting taxes, maybe an innocuous trip to Iowa to discuss the Missouri River? Possibly a more transparent trip to New Hampshire eventually?

Sure those are run-of-the-mill Presidential-campaign things to do. And to start a 2024 discussion would be more out-of-the-box-ish.

But starting a mini-committee to hash it out before the next election is even started?



So, how about 2020?

Well, timing-wise, 2020 would make a little more sense, right?

If Ricketts knew President Trump wasn’t going to run for re-election…

Because there’s no way Ricketts would challenge Trump in a primary (right?). Ever since Cruz dropped out of the 2016 Primary, Ricketts has been a Trump-guy through and through.

But there has been speculation that Trump won’t run in 2020. (Though probably more that he definitely will run…) It has been sort of off-handed, and not really supported by anything Trump has said or done. But it has been put out there.

And in the mean time, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse is making trips to Iowa, and not saying that he won’t run.

And there’s news today that Vice President Mike Pence is meeting with major donors — for the re-election? For himself?

All this sort of leads to…what does Pete Ricketts know?

Has he had it hinted to him that Trump is not going to run, and now is the time to get things going?
Or maybe has it been hinted by Mike Pence that Pence will be needing a running-mate, but it’s gotta be a guy who seems Presidential, so get on board.

Think about that: Who could Mike Pence find who wouldn’t overshadow him personality-wise, has some cred…and ohbytheway has billions to spend?



But the kicker on a 2020 Ricketts run is…that would make the upcoming 2018 Governor’s campaign about electing…Lt. Governor Mike Foley for Governor. It would make it very awkward if the whole thing became, “yeah but you’re hoping to quit in 2 years“.

Ricketts would have to be extremely cocky about that not being an issue in his campaign — and maybe he is.

But that wouldn’t make it any less strange.

And just think how Trump would feel if someone else was getting out front on news of any plans he has for a second term. (Something tells me Trump likes to control his messages…)


Crossing the Rubicon…er…Missouri

And in the mean time, let’s not forget about Nebraska’s junior Senator, Ben Sasse, and his foray into Iowa over the weekend.

He was in Nevada (that’s nuh-VEY-duh, to you) near Ames talking to the Story County GOP. And of course when Sasse was asked about his 2020 intentions, he once again deflected, saying neither yes, nor no, nor maybe nor anything else related.

And Sasse didn’t reveal anything unusual or notable at this shindig. But speaking of Trump, he apparently sent along a letter to the Story Co. GOP:

Story County GOP Chairman Brett Barker came to the podium to read a letter from Trump to the audience in which the president praised Iowa’s commitment to his candidacy in 2016 and fondly recalled visits to nearby Ames.

But Sasse’s coy-ness about the whole thing makes one wonder what he is hearing in the halls of Congress and what the national politicos really think.

It’s all some heavy speculation.

But a Ricketts move — if it means 2020 — is a serious log on the fire.


President Ricketts?

All of this sort of begs the question…could Pete Ricketts be President of the United States? Is he qualified? Could he get elected?

Hey feel free to dive into that if you’d like. The current opinion seems to be, “well if Donald Trump can do it…” But Ricketts ain’t Donald Trump. Maybe he’s Mike Pence. Or Dan Quayle?

He may see himself as a baseball owner with a famous father who everyone underestimated but ran a conservative state up to being President.

Sound like anyone you know? (Cough..43…cough.)

Does it seem…likely? Boy, I don’t see it.

But tell that to the hundreds who have run– and lost — for President.

But the discussion of the points for “why”are much more interesting at this point.



Statement from the Pete Ricketts for Governor campaign:

Governor Ricketts is not considering a run for President, nor has he called anyone to discuss a committee, or even the idea of forming a committee. He is not thinking about a run for any office other than re-election as Nebraska’s Governor.

– Jessica Flanagain

(She goes on to give the standard, “committed to his job”, “not taking election for granted”, “supports the President”, “has best job in the world”, etc.)

Here is all we will say from here:

Leavenworth St. received this information from a trusted, respected source who is very confident in the details that are laid out above.

But, the Ricketts camp gives a full denial.
We will get back to you if there are further details.

MORE: How local Democrat officials behave (Holiday edition)

Nebraska 2nd District Congressman Don Bacon spent the 4th of July walking (and running) at various parades around the district.

At the GE George Parade in Dundee, the retired General marched dutifully along while being heckled by a group of Bacon-haters. (Not to be confused with the delicious Wendy’s sandwich.)

So when he got to Ralston, and the same gang was helping the folks there enjoy their 4th by yelling at the Congressman, Rep. Bacon decided to greet the creeps directly:

So who’s the guy who made his own “Bacon Kills / Bacon Sucks” stencils?

Oh, just a member of the Nebraska Democrat Party’s Central Committee.

His name is Mark Vondrasek and he enjoys being a thorn in everyone’s side.

Everyone’s? Yep, he is apparently on the side of the now infamous Chelsey Gentry-Tipton, –who wrote about her laughter at Congressmen after the assassination attempt, claimed she was the victim, then worked with a friend to (allegedly) blackmail a fellow party member before helping to get him booted from the party.

So, because Vondrasek is on Gentry-Tipton’s side, that means he’s ….anti-Democrat Party Chair Jane Kleeb.


So how do Kleeb and Bacon differ on their approach?

Don walked right up to this guy, and took a photo with him.  Vondrasek as you can see, flipped the bird.

Thumbs Up vs The Bird

(That means he’s fighting against “The Man”, in case you weren’t down with the opposition’s call signs.)

But what does Jane do when questioned by the exact same guy? Let’s watch:

She turns tail and runs.

Well, she walks away as fast as she can.

Won’t answer his repeated questions. Won’t address him as a Central Committee member.

Smiles and flees.

What’s the idea again? They go low and we go high?

All politics is local, friends.

And it doesn’t get any more local than walking down the street in a parade. (Or, conversely, walking away.)



And just to put a bow on it, here’s how former Rep. Brad Ashford responded when asked a direct question about his party affiliation in a similar parade setting:


The Works

And these are always cool, so here’s KETV’s timelapse of the Omaha skyline on the evening of the 4th: