Tag: Jeff Fortenberry

Turning it up

First, a quick Separated at Birth:

New York Bob Kerrey and Nebraska Bob Kerrey

(my, that barn jacket smells of mothballs!)


Anyone interested in politics has a love/hate relationship and usually a slight obsession with polls.

So, without too much diving into the statistical analysis behind the GOP primary polls, we thought we would at least post what they looked like in that final week, along with the actual results:

Once the big jump was announced with that Singularis poll, the numbers for Fischer really were not THAT off on each poll thereafter, from the final results.

The We Ask America poll on May 14th of course came as close as any, with Fischer at 39% and Bruning at 34%. Once you factored in the undecideds on the Public Policy Polling version on the 15th, it was also very close to the final — though also note that the PPP poll surveyed about a quarter of what WAA did.

What to take away?

Well, in this race anyway, we always noted that the Undecideds were very high, even up until the final week. Fischer manager Aaron Trost said he felt they would break towards Fischer, but they needed a reason to, before that would happen. You can make a good argument that the Palin and Fort endorsements, and Joe Ricketts monetary endorsement did that. The undecideds saw her support solidifying and made the jump.

And what of the Ricketts money? That support from Ricketts showed many that Fischer’s campaign was serious. But we chuckle at Bob Kerrey’s question of, “How will Deb Fischer react when Ricketts asks for something???!” Gee Bob, while we know that you fall into the fetal position every time one of your Hollywood buddies, like Barbra Streisand, demands that you support the latest liberal cause, not everyone does that. Most elected officials look to those who elected them.

But we suppose when 75% of your election funds come from outside of Nebraska, like Kerrey’s do, you aren’t sure whose bidding you are doing.


Oh, and while we are at it, we note that Bob Kerrey got 3 million bucks from The New School in New York City AFTER he was shown the door with a no-confidence vote by the faculty and students. See, he was named President Emeritus, and still pulled in that hefty paycheck from them.

Gee Bob, wonder how you’ll react if The New School comes calling?


And it is offical: Bob Kerrey realizes he is waaay behind in this campaign. How do we know?

Kerrey said he hopes Deb Fischer accepts the Boys’ State debate and “many more debates.”

The leader does not need to be on stage. The one behind wants debates. Lots and lots and lots of debates.


And we didn’t mention this last week, but a few words from Nebraska Democrats about Deb Fischer:

“She’s smart, she’s tough. She can work, she’ll work it hard. She gets her bills through, she’s respected. She’s tea party, but she won’t say dumb things. I don’t think she’s always the nicest person, but she’s tough. I respect her.”

-Bud Pettigrew, the chair of Democratic county chairmen in Nebraska, who lives down the block from Fischer.

“You think, ‘Gosh, that doesn’t have a chance. We’re in the midst of a economic recession.’ But Sen. Fischer was able to pull [state roads bill] across the finish line, (She is) one of the most talented and effective senators … in the history of the body. It’s fair to say Sen. Fischer is well-respected. I think that she’s quite competent and done a good job recognizing and advocating on behalf of the parochial interests of her district.”

– Democratic state Sen. Danielle Conrad

Wonder if they’ll cut an ad for her?

How Deb did it

Underfunded and outstaffed, with no national groups to help her, Deb Fischer pulled out one of the most unlikely victories in recent memory.

You are likely to see some national media outlets who are quick to paint Fischer as some sort of upstart tea partier who toppled the GOP establishment candidate in Jon Bruning. Should you see that conventional wisdom, note that it is wrong on both counts.

First, Bruning is not and was not the Nebraska GOP establishment candidate. He received no endorsements from the elected delegation, not even a subtle pat on the back. The National Republican Senatorial Committee did not offer even tacit support. In fact the national party leaders did not even want Jon Bruning. The real establishment candidate was Governor Dave Heineman, who chose not to run.

Bruning was and is a hard worker, and great fund raiser who had made it clear that he was going to jump into the Senate race. As the last man standing after Heineman and Fortenberry and Terry and a number of other names passed, Bruning assumed the front-runner nod. But just because he was the front-runner, did not mean he was “establishment” in the Dick Lugar sense.

And Fischer is no upstart Tea Partier. In fact, she is arguably more moderate than the other candidates in the race, and certainly was not out trying to stir the pot just for stirring’s sake.

How she won? A lot of luck and good timing. But just like Ben Hogan said, “Golf is a game of luck. The more I practice the luckier I get.”

Many people were clearly uncomfortable with the prospect of a Jon Bruning nomination — and outright fatigued by the prospect of a Don Stenberg nomination. The sheer number of late undecided showed that. In the mean time, many Republicans were sort of sticking with guy who had the most money and seemed to be the winner.

But without Jim DeMint and the Club for Growth, no one would have been able to drive up Bruning’s negatives. Fischer certainly could not have done that on her own. (But while DeMint wants to take some sort of credit for defeating Bruning, DeMint was never in it to just defeat Bruning. He was in it to be the King-Maker. He absolutely picked the wrong guy in Stenberg, and may just be hoping that he can pull Fischer to his side at this point. Don’t count it likely.)

But we all watched that final week by the Fischer camp, and campaign manager Aaron Trost.
There was the initial Fischer poll — at a time while we and others were asking why they were spending money on a poll, when they couldn’t do TV!
But someone must have suggested that before anyone would endorse, the campaign needed to show that they had a chance to win.

So Kay Orr masterfully pulled the Sarah Palin card out her sleeve and the momentum really picked up.
Jeff Fortenberry, sensing the GOP discontent took a bold stand and endorsed Fischer giving her needed credibility — and a display that a state party leader was willing to take a big risk on Fischer. If he could, so could you.

And then the final question was, Well the endorsements are all well and good, but can she get on TV? Enter Joe Ricketts. Knowing Stenberg was doomed, he poured cash in to help Fischer out and just pounded Bruning with a devastating ad.

Nebraska GOP voters? The undecideds were watching and in some ways hoping for a breakthrough.
And they got it.
More polls trending toward Fischer, and the momentum never stopped.

Oh, and we will tell you right now, that of the three, Deb Fischer is the one the Kerrey camp has feared the most. (There have been Democrat operatives literally skipping around with a plan to take down Bruning and enshrine Bob Kerrey. They may have been wrong in the end, but that was absolutely the CW in DC and beyond.)

Deb will still have work ahead of her. She will have to be much more diligent about raising money, though that should also come a bit easier. And she will have to be a quick study on some of the international issues that may come up. But she is not going to be seen as some ultra-partisan who Kerrey thought he was running against. And oh my, but Bob Kerrey has a Congressional voting record to look back at.

But Nebraska Republicans picked a game changer.
Get used to the idea of Senator Deb Fischer. (And that’s “Senator” without the “state” in front of it.)

Late night robo-palooza

Some new robo-calls in the Senate race to keep you campaign types in-the-know.

First for the Jon Bruning camp, Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee:

Huck was an early supporter of Bruning’s.


And then for Deb Fischer, Nebraska 1st District Congressman, Jeff Fortenberry:

And then for Fischer (for some reason) former Alaska First Gentleman, Todd Palin

And we hate to say it, but if you were in the middle of your mashed potatoes and fish sticks, and you got up to answer that damn phone one more time, and it was …Todd Palin? Maybe it’s just us.


And then, just for something else to watch, Richard Carter has this campaign web ad-ish, that we are pretty sure was shot on a Samsung camera phone with a thumb over the mic. See it here:

And once someone buys Richard a decent mic, we see good things for him in the future.
(And for Lee tomorrow.)


Hey commenters, we know you are passionate about your candidate, but please keep in civil in the comments section.

And on Tuesday’s Primary Election Day, send us your camera phone shots of whatever is happening in your precinct, corner or after-party.

Send to LeavenworthSt@gmail.com !

Are those polls correct?

Larry & people prettier than Jeff Fortenberry

We are always intrigued by polls and polling.  And by the readership when one comes up, we know that you are as well.

So two relatively major polls came out on the Nebraska U.S. Senate race yesterday. One was Jon Bruning’s poll that showed Bruning up by over 30 points on Don Stenberg. We did not see Stenberg’s camp try to refute those numbers, mainly because they did not want to step on their Club for Growth endorsement story. But we would guess that they have a general beef with it, one way or another.

If the election were held today, would the Bruning poll prove to be correct? Without more info on that poll — we only got the bare minimum of the numbers — it is difficult for us to evaluate its veracity. But forgive the Stenberg folks if they do not want to buy into it 105%. Who could blame them? Not to mention, they would probably argue that the CFG announcement will change some minds – or at least eventually will if they commit monetarily.

But the other poll is what got us asking more questions.

In the Rasmussen Reports poll, it showed each of the three major GOP candidates beating Bob Kerrey — with Kerrey’s numbers never topping 34%.

Kerrey’s manager Paul Johnson announced to Nebraska Watchdog that the Rasmussen numbers were not “close to reality“.

Huh. And why?

“Johnson said 48 percent of the people surveyed by Rasmussen identified themselves as Republican and 24 percent Democrat. Most pollsters use a 48-33 split, Johnson said.”

Yeah? Not the ones we have talked to.

In any case, we contacted Rasmussen, and they responded that the numbers they use are 48% Republicans and 29% Democrats — and we assume then 23% Independents. They stated that they got those numbers from 2008 exit polls.

So whose numbers are accurate?

Well, we have a pretty good idea where Johnson gets his numbers. And we have followed up with Rasmussen on their numbers.

But here is what we know (or think we know, ya know?):

According to the Nebraska Secretary of State, the Voter Registration percentages are as follows:


According to the Secretary of State, here are the ACTUAL VOTER percentages from 2008 (the last Presidential Election year):


So, for one, we are not sure where Rasmussen is getting their info. We don’t see how or why one would use an exit poll if the actual numbers are available. Maybe there is some argument that self-identifying is a better gauge than registering? We dunno. But it would seem to make more sense just to use the actual voter numbers, if you are looking for likely voters.

So back to that point — “likely voters”. That is always the term used, right? So Johnson’s suggestion of 48% seems low as well.

Here are the percentages of ACTUAL Republican, Democrat and Independent voters since 2002:

So if you’re looking for a percentage of likely voters — people who are actually going to show up at the polls — your numbers for Republicans should probably fall somewhere between 50 – 58%, right? And then factor in, if you’d like the crazy number of new Democrats who voted in a frenzy in 2008. Think they are all going to show up at the polls again? Think Republicans are just a little enthused this year?

So a very easy argument can be made to take the average of 2002-2008 and come up with 54-55% Republicans, 33-34% Democrats and 11-12% Independents.

Makes one think that Rasmussen’s numbers might even be a little low for the GOP candidates, yeah?

Then how about the fact that Rasmussen apparently sampled 23% Independents? Their actual voter numbers don’t come anywhere near that — 14% tops in ’08.

But who do you think Independents would come down for, as a majority, in polling? Bruning or Kerrey? Stenberg or Kerrey? Now while we would not be surprised to see one of the GOP candidates, or that it would be even, many of us would also not be surprised to see Kerrey lead in that category of voters.

So, arguably, Republicans were way under-sampled, Democrats were slightly under-sampled and Independents were way over-sampled.

Were Rasmussen’s numbers “close to reality”, as Johnson argues? Well, maybe not. Maybe Kerrey is getting creamed by even more.

Of course Rasmussen’s final argument tends to be, “Hey look at our final predictions. We were off on the ’08 Presidential election by 1%.”
And maybe they know what they’re doing.

But we see no proof, as Johnson wants to argue — until you start pushing and “messaging” — that Kerrey is “within the margin of error”.


You should read Joe Morton’s article in the OWH today regarding Don Stenberg’s recent endorsement by the Club for Growth, and their history in Nebraska.

You may recall that CFG was fairly heavily involved in Adrian Smith’s win in NE-03 GOP primary in 2006 in a very tough field. Anyone could have pulled that race out, but many saw CFG’s support for Smith as really making it happen. And then you may remember the Kleeb camp bitching and moaning about CFG’s support of Smith in the general.

But Morton also goes back to the 2004 primary in NE01, where CFG came out against outgoing Rep. Doug Bereuter’s chosen pick of Curt Bromm. CFG hammered Bromm so hard that he lost in the crowded field — but not to CFG’s pick Greg Ruehle. Instead a Lincoln City Councilman pulled out the race and eventually headed to Washington D.C.

(And that finely coiffed man, Jeff Fortenberry, will be featured on “Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy” tonight at 8pm on the History Channel. Really. So there ya go.)

In any case, we wait to see if CFG will pour as much doe-ray-mi into the race as South Carolina’s Jim DeMint has for Don Stenberg. Would it be positive or negative ads? Or will they just give their name to Don, but not really their wallets.

On that note, former GOP candidate David Kramer responded to our general question about the CFG endorsement, last night, saying:

I don’t have a sense that spending a bunch of money to talk about how great Don is will be enough to get him over the hump. In order to beat Jon in the primary, Don, or even Deb for that matter, will have to go after the weaknesses that make Jon vulnerable in the general election.

At this late stage, the race is likely to turn more on why Jon shouldn’t be the nominee than on why one of the others should be.

We have a feeling that Don would agree.


An interesting, lonnnnng piece in the Huffington Post yesterday making the case that, if elected, Bob Kerrey would be carrying the mantle for the pro-marijuana movement in the U.S. Senate. That argument is based on the fact that Kerrey…

“…has a history of advising his old friend Peter Lewis, the billionaire founder of Progressive Insurance and the leading financial backer of marijuana policy reform, on Lewis’ efforts.”

The article goes on to quote, who else, but Kerrey’s mouthpiece Paul Johnson, who says,

“Bob Kerrey and Peter Lewis are good friends,” Johnson said by email. “But the notion that Sen. Kerrey was or is a part of a small group advising Mr. Lewis on strategy in New Hampshire or any other state is false.”

Well, except that the article then goes on to show how Kerrey DID in fact advise Lewis on tactics in New Hampshire. (Kerrey saying one thing, but doing another? Oh, the room is spinning!)  They go on to say that Kerrey advising on tactics does not necessarily mean that Kerrey agreed with their overall policy objective…but if not, why would he help with the tactics?

The article points to a survey (here we go again) that shows 64% of Nebraskans support reforming medical marijuana laws. So maybe there is an opening for Kerrey there? Well look, we will be REAL surprised to see Kerrey make this a campaign issue. Though, not so surprised to see an opponent bring it up.

But, just know that whatever Kerrey says, there is a great chance that he will think about it, probably discuss it with his wife in New York or DC while watching the Oscars, and decide to vote exactly the opposite way he told you he would.

IF he were elected…


And if it’s Wednesday (wait…yup!) that means Ben Nelson is on the fence…AGAIN.

This time Ben has stated that he will NOT make an endorsement in the Democrat Senate primary.

Oh come on!

Senator, we KNoooooW you are a Steve Lustgarten man. Just admit it, so we can all get on with the parades.


By the way, we will probably discuss the whole Gay Rights Ordinance before the Omaha City Council tomorrow.

But in the mean time, REALLY CITY COUNCIL? A hundred bucks for leaving your trash can out? And $500 after that??? Five HUNDRED dollars? Are you freaking kidding us?

We would love to see a city-wide boycott, where everyone leaves their container out on the curb for a week and then refuses to pay any fine.

You want to talk about your government over reach? There is it. What a complete crock of crap.

How do you rate?

Still a week for Teresa Scanlan to file...

National Journal’s Congressional vote ratings are out.

The rating is based off of how a Member of Congress votes with the majority of one’s party. So while the ratings are listed as Conservative vs Liberal, that is not necessarily the case, though there is certainly a large element of that.

So, for the Nebraska delegation, it shakes out like this:

Senator Ben Nelson is 49% D, 51% R. He’s the 53rd most liberal senator, the 48th most conservative.
Senator Mike Johanns is 65% R, 35% D. He’s the 62nd most liberal senator, the 39th most conservative.

NE-01 Rep. Jeff Fortenberry is 50.2% D, 49.8% R. He’s the 202nd most liberal member, the 228th most conservative.
NE-02 Rep. Lee Terry is 23% D, 77% R. He’s the 330th most liberal member, the 99th most conservative.
NE-03 Rep. Adrian Smith is 23% D, 78% R. He’s the 333rd most liberal member, the 97th most conservative.

The ratings are broken down into three areas, though not every vote considered fits into each area:
Social, Economic & Foreign.
Percent listed below indicates the % of conservatism:

Social: Nelson 50%, Johanns 64%, Fortenberry 55%, Terry 55%, Smith 83%
Economic: Nelson 52%, Johanns 64%, Fortenberry 46%, Terry 83%, Smith 60%
Foreign Affairs: Nelson 50%, Johanns 63%, Fortenberry 48%, Terry 86%, Smith 75%

These all over the board enough for you?

That Nelson is the “most conservative” Democrat Senator would not be a surprise to many hard-core liberals who hate him for it. But there are those who argue that Nelson simply waits out many votes to see if the Dems need him, and when they don’t, votes as Nebraskans would be more happy. This strategy failed him however when it came to ObamaCare and the Stimulus, to name a few. Nebraskans finally took note. Had he been able to straddle those and a few more, you probably would have seen a Nelson 2012 reelection campaign.

We have no doubt that Jeff Fortenberry will argue against these results and his relatively low “conservative” rating. But most would say that Fort is following a bit of the Doug Bereuter route of more “independently” minded votes, like his district likes. Middle of the road.

And while there will no doubt be crowing about something in Lee Terry’s percentages by his GOP Primary opponents, it is difficult to raise a stink with his 83% economic and 86% foreign affairs ratings. There is a pretty strong case to be made that the Tea Partiers are more libertarian on the social type issues — whatever these votes are anyway — so one wonders if any of that would or could even come into play.

And Adrian Smith’s numbers? Solid conservative. Solid Republican. And did we mention that he currently has ZERO opponents in his 3rd District race? Not sure if there are any Unicameral races he would want to throw is weight around in, but at least it could be something to keep him busy this election season.


And how about the news that Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will come to Omaha — to raise money for Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell! Ha. What a treat for NE02 Democratic candidates John Ewing and Gwen Howard. We wonder why Pelosi would push aside African American Ewing, and female Howard in favor of Old Whitey Boswell, who last time we checked, cannot represent Omaha. Maybe all those square states in the middle of the country are all the same to the Minority Leader from San Francisco.

Or maybe Pelosi will hold a funder for Howard and Ewing in Des Moines sometime in the future.


In the continuing saga of what color drapes would Pete Ricketts put up in the Omaha Mayor’s office after he is elected next year, we received a feisty comment from Ricketts’s former U.S. Senate campaign manager Jessica Moenning regarding our first post stating that Ricketts was interested in running for Omaha Mayor.

Moenning wrote, in a comment, to our second post on the subject:

Pete Ricketts is not thinking about a run for mayor. And if he was, he wouldn’t throw up a a “trial balloon” on an anonymous blog site. There is a difference between people encouraging him to run for mayor or other offices and him having an interest. Get a job.

We never actually found out who it was that peed in Jessica’s Wheaties that morning, but as you can see, she was truly miffed as she furiously typed out that comment — on an anonymous blog site! We were a little surprised to see Jessica take to the comment boards for this type of issue — instead of slipping us an email with the straight info and asking to correct it. But looks like she wasn’t into that.

Thing is, we never suggested that Ricketts had sent this information or suggestion directly to Leavenworth Street as a trial balloon. But the political fact of the matter is that when you take meetings of these sorts and you are less than discreet about them, you give the impression — intentional or not — that you would consider what the person is selling. Now maybe Pete was just being polite, or maybe it was a tertiary subject discussed. But such is the political world in which we live. Besides, it looks like we were correct in our assessment that he is not interested. How about that.

And Jessica, we might suggest that you take over as the “Ricketts family spokesperson”, and give more succinct responses than “that’s just a lotta gossip…”.

Now back to our real jobs. Which we have. And get paid for. In gold bullion.


We received a press release from U.S. Senate candidate Don Stenberg yesterday, where Stenberg is now making a concerted effort to separate himself, policy-wise, from his main opponents, Jon Bruning and Deb Fischer.

We give kudos to Stenberg for sending out a release which did not mention South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint’s name a single time, or reference Bruning’s law school articles.

So here is where Stenberg wants you to pay attention:

1) He wants to eliminate the Energy and Education Departments. He says Bruning only wants to make them smaller, not eliminate them.

2) He wants Constitutional Term Limits for Members of Congress. He says Bruning was not for the Unicameral Term Limits.

3) He is not crazy about the current Highway Bill, and its Federal control. He says Bruning has been silent on this issue.

4) He is for stopping insider trading by Members of Congress and their staffs. He essentially then accuses Bruning of insider trading or using his office to make money while AG.

5) He is against earmarks. He says Bruning has asked for earmarks.

Now these are all good things, but we just are not sure there is some big separation in any of these issues for the average GOP voter. Certainly not like the immigration issue was between Dave Heineman and Tom Osborne.

The only one that he may possibly gain some traction on is the “making money while AG” issue. But Stenberg probably needs some sort of smoking gun to show how or what exactly Bruning did that was unethical. We will give that the average person might look at Bruning’s investments and say, “Wow, he made some cash while AG. I wish I made that kind of return on my investments. I wonder how he accomplished that!” But if you do not have an actual answer to that question, the innuendo side of it is really only going to get you so far.

So otherwise, will the little items up there add up for Stenberg? Hmm. It is a tough sell. In a super-tight race these issues could tip voters one way or another. But if Don is looking to make up a good chunk of ground, he needs more and/or better.

But we will at least give him credit for going this route. It at least has the potential to give him a little more traction than the DeMint angle ever did.


Have a great weekend!  And when you’re buying stuff on Amazon, use Leavenworth Street’s Amazon links up top! (We may not be employed forever, ya know.)

Commenting on comments to comments

If you print stuff and carry it in boxes it looks like you have more!

Our post yesterday regarding the Douglas County Republican Party’s website post, using AFP’s talking points about opposing proposed Nebraska Health Care Exchanges, stirred up a lot of emotion on the comment boards here.

A few follow-ups:

1) On the purely political issue we found it “interesting” / strange / huh? that the DCRP would cut and paste something from AFP onto the party website. Mainly we find this unusual because the concept is essentially contrary to the stated objective of the Republican Governor. Not to mention calling it “Pro-ObamaCare legislation”.

We are not really sure how these things work. We suppose the party chair has pretty much complete latitude to post whatever he wants on the party website. In theory, he could state his 100% support for open borders and free silver without consulting anyone. But could the county central committee reign him in? Or vote him out? Not sure how that works — and certainly not suggesting that what was done was worthy of such drastic measures.

There are those who feel that what was written is the way to go. But this is hardly the consensus of the party — considering, again, that the Republican Governor has stated that he will do the opposite of what was suggested on the site.

The rest — below — is arguable, though we will restate our position. But the above part is what we are more curious about.

2) The basic argument against a state-run Health Care Exchange seems to be, if you support it you’re FOR ObamaCare!!!!

(We probably did not put enough exclamation marks there.)

We just do not follow that argument. If the law says, “Make your own state exchange, or you will have to submit to the Federal exchange,” what is unclear about that?

The counter is that if you create a state exchange you will have the power to create something that suits Nebraska, as opposed to what suits Chicago, that Nebraska has to go along with.

Some on the comment board argue, “Oh you rube! Obama will reject your Nebraska board, and make you submit to the Chicago style whether you like it or not!!!!!!!!!

Again, we do not follow that. Now it may be true. May. But what if it is NOT true. Then you have flushed your opportunity to set up your own exchange to spite your face. So where did that get you?

The “argument” also goes that if you set up an exchange you are showing support for ObamaCare. How is that again? Reluctantly following the law shows support for a law you disagree with? So the plan is some sort of civil disobedience? Yeah? OK, well when that fails, then you have just been stuck with the Federal exchange.

Hey, if there is an actual plan to prevent ObamaCare, we are all for it. But this Occupy-esque “plan” of resistance does not seem to add up to anything to us.


We got a chuckle out of the LJS story / opinion piece Sunday that Mike Hilgers’ campaign for the legislature “raised speculation” because he has — gasp! — raised lots of cash. Moreover, some of that cash came from — doublegasp! — out of state!

Hilgers went to college not at “the University” — consider that strike three Hilgers! — practiced law and moved back to his home state.

But the thing that really caught our eye in this story was this line:

But there has been speculation on Internet comment boards and elsewhere that Hilgers, who is Catholic and pro-life, was brought to Lincoln to oppose Haar, who is a pro-choice candidate and voter in the Legislature.

Oh yeah? “Internet comment boards” huh? Which ones?

Not ours. Hasn’t come up here.
Not the NNN, where it would be most likely.
Not the OC or the OWH.

The only one we could point to would be….the LJS’s comment section on their December 15th story which essentially published Hilger’s campaign announcement.

And here are the 2 comments:

frost said on: December 15, 2011, 5:31 pm
Obviously, Julie Smug-Albin and the Bishop have been out beating the bushes for candidates and turned up this guy.


Richard D. said on: December 15, 2011, 7:32 pm
Heard he just moved into Lincoln to run.

And then, as the LJS notes in their recent article, Julie Schmit-Albin responded

I have never met Mr. Hilgers nor did I or anyone with NRL have anything to do with his entry into the LD 21 race.

So, just so we are following:
The LJS says, “Nebraska Democrats have questioned Hilgers’ contributions.” Yet they don’t quote a single Democrat.

Then they source, “Internet comment boards” — without noting that it was THEIR comment board (singular, not plural) from which a total of TWO anonymous comments came.

And then they throw in the “…and elsewhere…“ Elsewhere? Where, elsewhere? Out on the loading dock? At your coffee shop? In your head, JoAnne Young? Do tell us the source of this conspiracy, so that we may root it out.

So look, if the LJS wants to take a hatchet to a candidate, hey go at. But how about you do it on the Editorial pages which show your true colors. Please spare us with the “sources say” or “internet boards say” crap in what is supposed to be a “news” article, yeah?


Congressman Lee Terry will be holding a “Twitter Townhall” this afternoon from 3:00 to 3:30pm…on Twitter! Enter the hashtag #NE02 or #Omaha with your question, and you can then follow his answers on his Twitter feed at “twitter.com/leeterryne“.

And for those of you who are not on the Twitter, you can write an email and send it to Bold Nebraska, who then will chop down a tree and carve your message into the bark, package it inside an elephant tusk and drive to Washington, D.C. in a jumbo jet, up to Terry’s office door.

See because it sends a better message that way.


Nebraska’s 1st District Congressman, Jeff Fortenberry, has taken the lead on fighting against President Obama’s war on church-based charities, universities and hospitals.

Fort is leading the effort in the House bill which would grant waivers to any employer that objects to the birth-control mandate for either religious or moral reasons.


Hey! If you’re buying something on Amazon.com, that you were going to buy anyway, howsaboutchoo first click LeavenworthSt.com’s Amazon link, then purchase away.

You’ll support our little DAILY blog here, anonymously and at no extra cost, when you do so. We appreciate all your support. And tell a friend (and/or an enemy) to read Leavenworth Street!

FLASH: Fort not running for Senate!


We JUST received word that NE-1 Rep. Jeff Fortenberry will NOT run for Senate and will run for re-election to the House.

Where does that leave Governor Dave Heineman?

More later.


Calling Cosmic Bob

The hot U.S. Senate campaign news in Nebraska on Friday went like this:

  • Steve Lathrop is IN (maybe)
  • Jeff Fortenberry is IN (maybe)
  • Bob Kerrey is IN (maybe)
  • Dave Heineman is…still thinking about it.

And that pretty much sums up the Senate race right now.

With all the conjecture going on, everyone is STILL looking to Dave Heineman to make a final decision. And you can bet the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is on his tail as well.

Because it will work like this: If Governor Dave gets in, Fort doesn’t run and Kerrey doesn’t run. Lathrop may run, figuring it’s a sure loss, but a gain for his 2014 Governor’s campaign.


As Don Walton noted, and most others note when you really press them, it doesn’t seem like Heineman really wants to get in. If he did, he would probably already be in.

That’s not to say that he cannot be convinced though. And the convincing could go like this:

If he gets in, he wins, most likely in an easy General race against a sacrificial lamb chop.

If he doesn’t get in, all bets are off. (Well, actually, the heavy betting would begin, but there isn’t a old saying like that…) And maybe the seat stays with the Dems. Because…

Fortenberry could very likely get in. And Kerrey could very likely get in.

If Fort gets in you would have a very splintered GOP Primary. The three big dogs would split the votes three ways, and Deb Fischer would siphon off some and just about anything could happen. There is no traditionally “Omaha” candidate in the bunch, so someone (Stenberg?) could make that leap.

The old CQ might look something like this:
1) Bruning vs Kerrey could give it a “lean Kerrey”
2) Stenberg vs Kerrey could give it a “lean Kerrey”
3) Fortenberry vs Kerrey could give it a “lean Fort”
4) Fischer vs Kerrey probably “lean Kerrey”


We would really call that the “old CQ”.

This is not the “old” Bob Kerrey. And by that we mean, “the Bob Kerrey who used to live in Nebraska”. He can shrug off the carpetbagger stuff all he wants, but the guy has lived in New York City for the past 12 years and ran one of the most liberal colleges in the country.

In the mean time, he is still in favor of ObamaCare and would be considered a consistent Democrat vote in the Senate. Does anyone think that is what Nebraskans want? A transplanted New Yorker who will carry water for Harry Reid?

With that in mind, there is a strong argument that ALL the Republicans could/would beat Kerrey. We would even include Deb Fischer in that bunch, because IF she could win the primary, she would have have all the cash she needed for the General to establish herself. (It’s the cash in the primary part that is going to trouble her.)

Fort’s argument would be that he would be the most electable for Independents against Kerrey, and that they will likely sway the race. But we would argue that even if GOP voters decide Fortenberry is not conservative enough for them (and you can bet that Stenberg and Bruning would POUND that drum), any of them would likely have a good or maybe great chance of beating former Senator Kerrey.

But you could very likely call it a “toss-up”.

Unless Heineman was in.


Of course all of this assumes that Kerrey is as enthused about running for Senate as Don Walton is about Kerrey running for Senate.

There are the hints that “A number of friends and close political associates said Friday they believe Kerrey is inclined to seek the Senate seat”.

There is Kerrey talking about his big plans if he were Senator again and how neat it would be to work with Governor Dave on various projects.

But remember one thing folks: This is Cosmic Bob Kerrey we are talking about. He is often times more excited about the idea of doing something than actually doing the thing itself (Examples: gushing to Bill Clinton how awesome it was that both of them were running for President. Thinking about running for Mayor of New York City. Thinking about running for Senate in Nebraska in 2008)

With Cosmic Bob, do not be one bit surprised to see the following quote:

“You know, I’ve been looking at this Nebraska Senate race. And I realized, I really LIKE doughnuts. So I’ve decided to start a giraffe farm.”

And then off into the sunset he will go, and the LJS will still look to him for quotes about Turkmenistan.


And just so you know where everyone stands, the OWH reported today that Ben Nelson has $3M to give away to whomever he chooses, including the DSCC. Joe Morton said,

“After all, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee just coughed up hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for television ads featuring Nelson.”

No, the DSCC spent $1.2 MILLION on ads defending Nelson. That’s more than “hundreds of thousands”. Unless you consider it all cumulative, in which case you may as well say they spent “hundreds of cents” on him.

Oh, and Bob Kerrey already said Ben doesn’t have to give him all that money for his campaign if he doesn’t want to.


ICYMI, Mike Johanns is currently somewhere in Africa.  And he may or may not be sipping quinine water with Bono there.

That’s the life Bob Kerrey yearns to go back to.

Fort in?

The Rothenberg Report is …reporting… that Jeff Fortenberry has decided to run for the GOP nomination to the U.S. Senate.

Rothenberg says:

Cong. Jeff Fortenberry (R) is actively considering a bid for the U.S. Senate in Nebraska and is likely to enter the race, according to multiple sources in the state and in Washington.

According to sources, Fortenberry is making calls and making staff changes in what looks like an effort to lay the groundwork for a Senate run.

According to GOP sources, there is always a chance the congressman could change directions until he officially announces his decision, but Fortenberry is definitely leaning toward a Senate run. A number of Republicans in Nebraska are already making plans to run for Fortenberry’s congressional seat, yet another indication that he will run for Senate.

The dynamic of the race would change if Gov. Dave Heineman (R) decides to enter the race. The popular governor has shown no interest in coming to Washington but, according to some insiders, has not completely closed the door to a run.

We are STILL hearing that Governor Dave Heineman has NOT closed the door on the Senate race just yet. And he may even get in, given Fort’s apparent mindset. Though, that would still let Fort get out…

Nothing is done yet.


And as we and others have been Tweeting and reporting throughout the day, (Cosmic) Bob Kerrey has said he is STILL deciding on whether or not to run.

He says that the other Democrats — you know the ones who actually live in Nebraska — will wait for him to decide, and won’t run if he does. How kind of him.

But the money quote to Joe Jordan from Kerrey is:

“(The decision is) in my head only and as you know that’s a scary place to be.”

Don’t we ever…


And since (for some Gaia forsaken reason) some of you don’t read our Twitter feed, here are a few highlights from the past few hours:

  • LJS: “A # of friends and close pol assocs sed they believe Bob Kerrey is inclined to seek the #NESEN seat”

Who COULD be in for #NE1

We hate to sound like a broken record here…er, scratched CD…er, codec incompatible mp3 (just trying to keep it relevant for the kids), but we will talk about what COULD happen IF Jeff Fortenberry decides to run for Senate.

First District Representative Fortenberry seems like the odds-on favorite to possibly get into the Senate race, considering that it may be a jump-ball for the GOP at this point. Of course a LOT of that depends on the intentions of Governor Dave Heineman. We would guess that if Governor Dave gets in, Fort doesn’t bother.



What if Fort does get in and gives up his current House seat?

Well, then the games begin in NE-1.

We have asked around, and the commenters have certainly contributed their pennies and nickels to the conversation. But here is what we have come up with.

Many people have thrown around the names of…
Speaker Mike Flood
State Senator Tony Fulton
State Senator Chris Langemeier.

All would or could be contenders for the gig.
Our understanding / belief is that none are likely to pull the trigger on this race.

We still have our doubts about Langemeier, but we are less torn about Flood and Fulton. One of the main reasons is that being in Congress is a difficult gig for the Family Man. If you aren’t fully committed, and if you don’t have some extra cash, it can take a real toll on one’s family life. You have to have two homes — and decide if you are going to see your family just on weekdays or just on weekends. And think housing in the DC area is cheap? How about the schools?

Anywho, maybe not just for that reason, but we could come up with many others. And the word that we get from those who observe is that those three are probably not interested (or maybe just don’t think Fort will leave the seat and aren’t’ bothering to stick their heads up yet).

So who IS likely very interested?

Well the names you have seen before, and who are most likely to be inittowinit (if it comes to that) are (in alphabetical order):

Nebraska State Board of Education member Bob Evnen.
We heard his name right out of the chute, and think he wants it. Though many might want it, so who knows…

Nebraska GOP Chairman Mark Fahleson.
Certainly can go to an organization right away, and has his name in the press constantly.

Lincoln City Councilman Adam Hornung.
Would come from a long line of Congressman who started in City Councils (and has reportedly begun planning in the event of a Fortenberry departure, in earnest).

State Senator Charlie Janssen.
You are hearing his name here FIRST. We understand that he is VERY interested, and would battle hard for this gig.

Those are four who we think would be very likely to get in — if Fort drops out.

Another who would likely be formidable, but who is an unknown at this point is State Auditor Mike Foley. Foley could/would run a tough race and likely has good name ID and/or a very public record to build on. But we don’t really have any idea of his intentions, so we will leave him out of the mix, for now.


Now it is just as likely we could get an email from one of those mentioned above or others saying, “I am NOT interested” or “I sure as hell AM interested” or “Why didn’t you include me?”. This is all very fluid at this point — not least because of the main decision needed to come from Fortenberry himself.

Heck, Fort may just look at that list and say, “Screw them. I’m staying put.” Or he may look at that Senate field for his big chance to take a leap.

Lots of factors here. But we have to figure that Fort won’t wait toooo long to make the call.

In the mean time, there are a few seat-edges getting worn out…

Mr. Right Now

Nothing super new happening in the Nebraska political world.

Republicans wait to see who else will get in the Senate race — Jeff Fortenberry? Dave Heineman? Bob Kerrey?

Once Governor Dave makes his call, all the rest may or may not begin to rustle. If he is in, look for the field to settle, and potentially settle out. You could bet that Fort would not get in at that point. And most likely neither would Cosmic Bob.

If Heineman sits it out? Fort could take a much harder look, or just make a decision. And Kerrey will have to end his magic carpet ride and announce that decision he said he’d make by January 12th. We still expect him to enjoy the non-Senate life.

And we know that if Fort ultimately decides, chaos will ensue (mass hysteria, yard sign forests, full employment for GOP consultants…)


But in the mean time, we may as well look at what happened to the state’s neighbor to the east last night.

Rick Santorum? Really Iowa? C’mon.

He ain’t Mr. Conservative. Or even Mr. Right. He’s the 2011/12 definition of Mr. Right Now. He peaked at just the right time…last. Heck, he wasn’t even the first not-Romney to get kicked to the curb. He was, in fact the last. So yeah, couple of basketball crowds worth of Iowans think he’s their man. Awesome.

We just don’t expect to see his face on one of those gold dollars that no one uses anytime soon.

And just because it’s the talk of the Twitters (and if you’re over 18), Google “Santorum”. You have been warned that the search results are not…uh…clean.


State Senator Deb Fischer wants people to vote on new taxes. And Senator Avery wants RC Cola and Vess drinkers to fund your Biggest Loser contest. Feel free to discuss.

And since it is what everyone in the Lincoln (and now Bellevue!) area wants to talk about, feel free to give us your list for possible successors to to Jeff Fortenberry in NE-1.  We will post a list tomorrow.