Catching up I

Republican nominee for governor Pete Ricketts has chosen the current lieutenant governor, Lavon Heidemann, as his running mate.

Heidemann, 55, has been lieutenant governor since February 2013, Lavon Heidemanwhen he was appointed to the post by Gov. Dave Heineman to replace Lt. Gov.Rick Sheehy. Heideman served eight years in the legislature, six years as chairman of the appropriations committee. In 2012, he was elected a University of Nebraska regent.

Heidemann, whose website describes him as a farmer, rancher and volunteer firefighter, links the billionaire Ricketts to the everyday world of agriculture. As a former state senator, Heidemann also would be an asset in dealing with the legislature. Ricketts has no previous experience in government.

Ricketts faces Chuck Hassebrook in the race to replace the term-limited Heineman.

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What does uVoted4them.com think of Gov. Heineman’s bid to become president of the University of Nebraska?

Since you asked, we think he’s too old. He’ll be 67 when his term ends, and we’d prefer he pursue the normal activities of a retired Dave Heinemangovernor his age: Run for another office, find a nonprofit to join, sit on corporate boards, scout Washington for a lobbying gig. Who knows? There’s an election in 2016, and there might be a new Republican administration looking for a guy just like him.

No offense to the governor, but we just think he’s too old to start a new career as the top administrator of an institution as large and diverse as the university system. Maybe if he’d done a better job with the large and diverse state Department of Health and Human Services …

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Jim Jenkins of Callaway, an independent in the race to succeed Mike Johanns in the U.S. Senate, told the Fremont Tribune that he has more than enough signatures to get his name on the ballot, and will be submitting them in a couple of weeks.

Jim JenkinsJenkins runs the family ranch in Custer County. After college, he worked in Illinois and Ohio , then returned to Nebraska to raise his family. He launched the Whiskey Creek Steakhouse chain and Skeeter Barnes restaurants.

Jenkins also was chairman of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

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Daniel Keylin, who Nebraskans might remember as communications director for Sen. Deb Fischer during her successful 2012 campaign, has joined the staff of Thom Tillis, according to Roll Call. Tillis is the current house speaker in North Carolina. He is trying to unseat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.

 

We’re back

Today, uVoted4them.com makes its return from vacation. We had a great time. Hope you did, too.

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U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer is one of 24 senators whose wish came true Friday with the resignation of Eric Shinseki as secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sen. Deb Fischer

Sen. Deb Fischer

Fischer was one of 13 Senate Republicans and 11 Democrats who called for the resignation after a preliminary report from the VA inspector general’s office disclosed that roughly 1,700 veterans who’d requested services from the VA in Phoenix, Ariz., were never scheduled for appointments or put on a waiting list.

In the House, ABC News put together a list of 32 Democrats and 72 Republicans also calling for Shinseki’s departure. Of the Nebraska delegation, only 3rd District Rep. Adrian Smith was listed.

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Nebraska’s House delegation — Reps. Terry, Fortenberry, and Smith — all voted against a measure Friday that would prevent the DEA from raiding medical marijuana farms in states that allow the use of medical marijuana.

The amendment, sponsored by California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, passed anyway, on vote of 219-189.

Pot farms are far from safe, however.  The appropriations bill to which Rohrabacher’s amendment was attached still needs to be passed by the House, agreed to by the Senate and signed into law.

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Sen. Mike Johanns has been named one of 32 members of Congress recognized as a “Fiscal Hero” by the Campaign to Fix the Debt.

MikeJohannsFiscal heroes are chosen for a number of reasons, include their voting records, floor speeches, introduction of legislation, attempts to push leadership toward certain policy positions, efforts to emphasize the nation’s debt at town hall meetings and other constituent contacts.

Campaign to Fix the Debt is one of the groups financed by Wall Street billionaire Peter G. Peterson, whose ambition is to cut earned-benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Peterson, 86, doesn’t attract the attention of, say, the Koch Brothers, because he maintains a low profile, and his groups publically project a reasonable, bipartisan spirit.

Democrats the group has named as “Fiscal Heroes” include Sens. Mike Bennet of Colorado, Tom Carper and Chris Coons, both of Delaware, and Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

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If he’s lucky, Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse will never again have to follow a reality Duck Dynasty Phil Robertsonstar in camoflauge to the lectern, as he did Thursday night in New Orleans.

The Daily Beast reports that half the audience at the Republican Leadership Conference left the hall after keynote speaker and  Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson delivered they keynote speech.

Sasse followed Robertson to the stage about 9 p.m., after a long night of speeches.

Glenn Beck’s The Blaze does a splendid job covering Robertson’s guns-gays-God speech; we’re still trying to find decent coverage of Sasse’s speech.

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Ben Sasse’s Senate campaign is adding staff. The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind., reports that James Wegmann has quit his job with Indiana Rep. Martin Stutzman to work for Sasse. Wegmann has been on Stutzman’s communications staff since 2010.

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Dr. Marie Belin, an Omaha pediatrician and Douglas County co-chair of the Ben Sasse for MarieBelin149x199Senate campaign, has been named vice chairman of the Nebraska Republican Party.

Belin is a Nebraska native who grew up in Lincoln. She is a partner in Village Pointe Pediatrics, and has long been active in Nebraska politics, according to J.L. Spray, state party chairman.

“Marie will bring a range of talents and experience to the NEGOP and I look forward to working closely with here,” Spray said in a statement. “Her experiences with grassroots campaigns will be a valuable addition in our efforts to elect Republicans throughout Nebraska.”

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Lincoln businessman Todd Watson is trying to create some traction for his independent bid for the U.S. Senate. The self-described Todd Watsonfaith-based conservative told the Lincoln Journal Star‘s Don Walton that the two-party system is broken. “We need to reduce government regulation, but if you break the laws, you get extra oversight. If you caused an economic meltdown, you deserve oversight, ” Watson said.

Watson said he’s already collected the 4,000 signatures needed to get on the November ballot, but hasn’t turned them in yet. Also gathering signatures for an independent bid is Jim Jenkins.

We found this from Watson on youtube.com.

 

 

Where to begin?

The Nebraska Tourism Commission picked a heck of a week to unveil its new slogan, “Nebraska Nice.”

In just the past week, outside interest groups have poured more than $1 million in outside expenditures into Nebraska’s Republican Senate primary — mostly for attack ads. That brings the grand total for outside spending to $2.6 million.

Sid Dinsdale’s campaign has picked up enough steam that outside interest groups are spending major money to attack him as a — gasp! — moderate. The Pinnacle Bancorp chairman has loaned his campaign a million dollars for the final push toward Tuesday’s election.

The frothy far-right continues to beat up on Shane Osborn, who must be wondering what’s happened to the campaign money that is supposed to accompany the blessing of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Establishment groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee have stayed out of the Nebraska race, leading us to believe that nobody cares who wins in Nebraska — except the Tea Party establishment, which is spending freely on Midland University President Ben Sasse.

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns, who doesn’t plan to endorse any of the five Republican candidates seeking to replace him, criticized of the nastiness of the Senate race during interviews this past week.

Johanns, who has held elective office pretty much continuously since 1983, when he was elected to the Lancaster County Board, said he never mentioned his opponents by name in campaign ads. Here are a couple of his comments to David Drucker at the Washington Examiner .

JohannsMay82

JohannsMay81

Also not endorsing a candidate in the Nebraska Senate primary: Sen. Deb Fischer.

In other news:

  • With about 80 hours left in the campaign, the Sasse campaign has launched what it promises to be the very last commercial of his primary race. It is a positive ad, but who needs to go negative when you have outside groups doing the dirty work?

 

  • KETV Omaha and KLKN Lincoln pulled the 60 Plus Association’s ad that hammers Osborn for the fake Navy memo that his campaign produced to settle the question of whether he made the right decision to land his crippled spy plane in China. We hear the ad is airing on other Nebraska stations.The 60 Plus Association purchased $145,000 in air time.

 

  • In a rather ham-handed effort to help former state treasurer Osborn,  Pioneer Action Network aired a 15-second ad attacking Sasse for using his children in the ad to talk about how much their father “despises” Obamacare. “Tell Ben Sasse Nebraskans protect their families. They don’t hide behind them,” the ad says.

 

  • There doesn’t seem to be much truth in advertising with Empower Nebraska, a group that has spent $62,538 supporting Sasse with direct mail. The group’s web site describes it as “the first and only super PAC specifically created by Nebraska Republicans to support Nebraska Republicans.” According to FEC reports, however, the group had 10 donors through the April reporting deadline and only three of them were actual Nebraskans. The PAC itself is based at a Tampa, Fla., accounting firm. Six donors live in the Washington metro area and one lives in New Hampshire.

 

  • The Fact Checker column at the Washington Post has given 2nd District U.S. Rep Lee Terry three Pinocchio’s for his anti-Obamacare ad featuring Omahan Andrea Kodad. Turns out that Obamacare didn’t cause her health care premiums to nearly double or the tripling of her co-pays, after all. Kodad still has her old policy because the Obama administration allowed non-ACA compliant health insurance policies to be extended for another two years.

What’s the right’s beef with Dinsdale? Well, there a couple, but they don’t amount to much. Club for Growth and the For America Inc. PAC accuse him of donating to Democrats, which is true. The Pinnacle Bancorp PAC gave $3,500 to former Sen. Ben Nelson between 2006 and 2011.

Dinsdale also gave money to Columbus manufacturing executive Tony Raimondo’s Senate campaign in 2008. But the Behlen Manufacturing Group chairman was pretty much a DINO — Democrat in name only. He was a former Republican who came this close to landing a prominent post in the Bush administration in 2004.

Dinsdale has personally given about $20,000 to Republican candidates in federal races since 1999 — including about $9,000 to Lee Terry. In 2008, he gave Raimondo $2,300. The Pinnacle PAC has contributed about $63,000 to federal candidates over the past two cycles — only $2,500 went to a Democrat, Nelson. There’s not much behind the club’s claim that he gave Democratic candidates money “over and over again.”

Meanwhile, the 60 Plus Association spent $100,000 on Thursday to attack Dinsdale on radio and TV for saying he would always vote to raise the debt ceiling. That probably plays well with the base, but the rest of us know the debt ceiling is raised only to pay for debts already incurred. Floor votes are where spending is controlled.

Dinsdale continues his positive campaign with the ad below. Sasse says he’s run a clean campaign. He may have left most of the dirty work to outside groups, but we just can’t get over the fact that he asked his elderly great-uncle, a noted Fremont businessman and philanthropist, to donate to an outside group’s attack ad. uVoted4them would never treat their relatives so badly. Anyway, here’s Dinsdale’s latest:

uVoted4them.com apologizes for the gap in posts. We hit our nasty limit early in the week. You know it’s bad out there when spring cleaning is more appealing than politics.

 

So much news, so little time

This might be a good weekend to visit Roku’s Channel Store or the neighborhood Redbox if you want to avoid the onslaught of campaign ads during the final 11 days of the primary campaign.

In just the Senate race alone, the Washington Post reports that Ben Sasse’s campaign plans to air $200,000 in ads, Shane Osborn’s campaign has purchased $120,000 worth of air time and Sid Dinsdale’s campaign is going up with $80,000 in ads.

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From the Federal Election Commission independent expenditure filings, come these recent tidbits:

  • Since switching its endorsement from Osborn to Sasse, FreedomWorks for America has spent about $13,500 for online ads supporting Sasse and another thousand on email, social media and printing.
  • Tea Party Patriotic Citizens Fund, another pro-Sasse group, has spent about $17,000 on telemarketing. Those are the folks to blame when your phone rings.
  •  The Senate Conservatives Fund has spent another $27,500 on direct mail and the online processing of contributions, which brings its total outside support to Sasse to $496,303.20
  • Club for Growth Action, another PAC supporting Sasse, has spent more than $220,000 since April 24 for production costs and TV ad time for anti-Osborn ads.
  • Freedom Pioneer Action Network spent $103,525.80 on April 28 for advertising services and communications opposing Sasse.
  • America Inc. spent $50,000 on May 2 for digital production costs and online ads opposing Dinsdale.
  • The FEC says Nebraska Senate candidates have benefited from  $1,536,131.10 in independent expenditures thus far.

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Additionally, the Leavenworth Street political blog has reported that a $200,000 ad buy for the May 3-12 period that was originally purchased by Ensuring a Conservative Nebraska has been handed off to The 60 Plus Association.

As you may recall, Ben Sasse’s great uncle, Rupert Dunklau of Fremont, gave Ensuring a Conservative Nebraska $100,000 last month to finance an anti-Osborn ad. Dunklau, a retired Valmont executive, was the PAC’s sole contributor.

Maybe Uncle Rupert, a well-known philanthropist in the Fremont area, is tired of seeing his name attached to negative ads. In any event, it was unseemly for Sasse, whose campaign told the Omaha World-Herald that Sasse asked his uncle to donate to the group, to claim he’s running a clean campaign at the same time he’s asking relatives for contributions for attack ads.

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Before leaving the topic of outside money in campaigns entirely, the Wesleyan Media Project has issued a report saying that outside interest groups sponsored, on average, 59 percent of the TV ads that have run in Senate races this cycle. In 2012, it was 51 percent.

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Two new polls came out this week for the Nebraska Senate race. Neither meets the reliability criteria for mainstream media coverage, and both raise as many questions as they answer, but they follow below. Forewarned is forearmed.

The first one came from the Sasse campaign and shows him leading with 31 percent, Osborn six points behind at 25 percent, and Dinsdale in third with 22 percent. Bart McLeay was fourth with 5 percent, and Clifton R. Johnson fifth with 3 percent. Undecideds: 12 percent.

The second is from Tea Party Express. It has Sasse leading Osborn 29.2 percent to 26.8 percent. Dinsdale is third with 12.8 percent and Bart McLeay trailed with 3.3 percent. Undecideds: 27.9 percent.

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Sasse-backers are advancing the storyline that the Osborn campaign is dead in the water, and Dinsdale is rapidly gaining ground. It may be true, or it may be just what Ben’s supporters want you to believe. What could be better for Sasse than to have Osborn, the overwhelming favorite at the start of the campaign, to be now perceived as flailing?

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You know you’re doing well when they start attacking you, which should be slim comfort to Sid Dinsdale. Erick Erickson at the Red State blog, who has endorsed Sasse, wrote this week that Sid Dinsdale’s daughter was a board member at Planned Parenthood, and that both Dinsdale’s daughter and his wife were contributors to pro-abortion groups.

Dinsdale said his family has never contributed to pro-choice groups. It was Dinsdale’s sister who was once a member of the Planned Parenthood board. Dinsdale himself has been endorsed by Nebraska Right to Life.

While he was at it, Erickson also frothed that Dinsdale is a really a Democrat. Some of it is pretty silly stuff, but it’s hard to believe the daughter/sister mixup was an innocent mistake. There have been plenty of pictures of the Dinsdale family on Twitter and whatnot. Sid’s daughters aren’t old enough to be serving on those types of boards.

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Both Nebraska Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer voted with the majority of their Republican colleagues to stall a measure to raise the national minimum wage.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee was the only Republican to vote for allowing  an up-or-down vote. He said he doesn’t support raising the minimum wage, but thinks the issue should be debated.

Raising the minimum wage is a longshot right now, but Democrats are hoping to build enough public pressure this midterm election year to finally get it through. The bill is sponsored by Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, who is retiring from the Senate next year.

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You can also expect another symbolic vote next week in the Senate, this one involving the Keystone XL pipeline. Democrats in tight reelection battles are eager to cast a vote that tells constituents they want the pipeline built now. The vote might come on a nonbinding “sense of the Senate” resolution or an actual law. Any legislation would likely be vetoed, however, leaving the vote meaningless.

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A belated happy birthday to country music icon Willie Nelson, who turned 81, and Attorney General, and Republican candidate for governor, Jon Bruning. He turned 45 this week.

Nothing says fun …

SasseCruzGunApril25… like a toddler with a gun. Thanks to Sen. Ted Cruz for Tweeting this photo from Friday’s rally for Ben Sasse at Buffalo Bill Cody’s ranch in North Platte. The event, which also featured Utah Sen. Mike Lee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (with husband Todd), drew a crowd estimated at a thousand.

Apologies to U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer for incorrectly adding her to the lineup for Sasse’s North Platte rally. She was pictured with Palin in early graphics announcing the event, and we made an incorrect assumption. Sen. Fischer has not endorsed a candidate in the Nebraska Senate race, and is not campaigning with Sasse.

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Monday, Monday

 

Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer will be campaigning with Sarah Palin for Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst in West Des Moines on Sunday.

ShePAC is sponsoring the “Heels on, Gloves Off” rally for Ernst, an

Sen. Deb Fischer

Sen. Deb Fischer

Iowa state senator running for the U.S. Senate. Also scheduled to appear are Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and former Nebraska Gov. Kay Orr.

Palin endorsed Fischer in 2012, and both have endorsed Ernst.

Fischer is building an unusually high national profile for a Nebraskan in the Senate. A former rancher, Fischer shares an interest in livestock with Ernst, who made a squeal with a commercial saying that she grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm and knows how to cut the pork in Washington. (One of Fischer’s 2012 ads featured two bulls named Bruning and Stenberg.)

By the way, both Palin and Fischer are scheduled to attend a campaign event Friday in North Platte for Senate candidate Ben Sasse that will also feature Utah Sen. Mike Lee and former Nebraska Gov. Kay Orr.

The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Buffalo Bill Cody ranch, aka Scout’s Rest. We don’t know exactly what’s planned, but we’re expecting a lot of rootin’-tootin’, yippie-ki-ay one-liners from the unsuccessful 2008 vice presidential candidate. RSVP here.

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Rumor has it that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz might be making an endorsement and/or appearance in Nebraska in support of Sasse. If true, it would mean the full clown car has arrived, as Chris Matthews would say.

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Sid Dinsdale, the one candidate seen as having a chance to pull a Deb Fischer and defeat both Sasse and Shane Osborn in the primary, is holding a “Taking Nebraska Values to Washington, D.C.” conversation Thursday in Lincoln. It will be at 7 p.m. at the Nebraska GOP headquarters, 1610 N St. RSVP to evan@sidforsenate.com

Of course, for Dinsdale to beat the two bickering frontrunners, it will take

Sid Dinsdale

Sid Dinsdale

the deep pockets of some donor — Fischer’s victory came after a money dump from Joe Ricketts’ Ending Spending PAC. But who could it be? After months of holding out from making a contribution to his own campaign, banker Dinsdale has apparently opened his wallet. He has a new ad, “In Your Face,” about government regulatory overreach. There’s a link to it at the end.

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Speaking of money dumps, Shane Osborn has issued a plea for donations to fight the negative ads that outside supporters of Ben Sasse continue to heap on him.

Last week it was one of those storm-clouds over Washington scare ads

Shane Osborn

Shane Osborn

financed by Sasse’s great-uncle, retired Fremont business executive Rupert Dunklau. This week, it is Club for Growth that has scheduled six-figures worth of attack ads.

The Club for Growth ad buy will push the amount of money spent by outside groups supporting Ben Sasse past the $1 million mark. (Those are commercials, fliers, online ads and whatnot created and paid for by outside groups, supposedly without coordinating with the candidate or his campaign.) Osborn’s outside support has stalled at about $165,000.

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Finally, 2nd District U.S. Rep. Lee Terry is holding an evening of cigars, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres May 2 at Safari Cigars in Omaha. Cost is $1,000 for PAC sponsors, $500 for individual sponsors. Individual tickets are $150, couples are $250. RSVP to sam@leeterry.com

http://youtu.be/bbEARnmgVj8 See the Dinsdale ad there.

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McCain, Graham back Osborn

Republican Senate candidate Shane Osborn has picked up the financial backing of the Senate’s two military veterans, Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Breitbart reports that both are making donations to the Osborn campaign. The two became supporters of the former Navy pilot in February, when Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer invited Osborn to a closed-door luncheon in Washington. Breitbart also reports that neither has any plans to make campaign appearances in Nebraska on Osborn’s behalf.

Graham, 58, joined the Air Force after graduating from law school in the early 1980s, and served as a judge advocate in Europe. He returned to his native South Carolina after discharge, and served in the Air Force Reserves there. President George W. Bush promoted him to the rank of colonel during a White House ceremony. Graham is not a combat veteran.

McCain, 77, had a more colorful and painful military career. Both his father and grandfather were four-star admirals, and McCain followed in their footsteps by graduating from the Naval Academy in 1958. During Vietnam, McCain flew bombing missions from an aircraft carrier. He was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 and badly injured.

Out of deference to McCain’s admiral father and his family’s 200-year history of military service, the North Vietnamese offered to release him in 1968, but McCain refused to leave his fellow prisoners behind. He remained a prisoner for five more years, and was released with other American POWs after the Paris Peace Accords in 1973. McCain retired from the Navy in 1981 as a captain.

The Ricketts edition

With quarterly campaign finance reports due in just a few days, inboxes are loading up with fundraising appeals, including one from Republican candidate for governor Jon Bruning.

Under the subject line “I will be outspent,” Bruning bemoans the deep pockets of rival Pete Ricketts, the scion of AmeriTrade founder and gazillioniare Joe Ricketts.

BruningMar27fundraisingemail
Chin up, Jon. Whining isn’t the Republican way, and money can’t buy love. Pete Ricketts spent more than $14 million of his own money trying to beat Ben Nelson in the 2006 Senate race and still lost by 12 points.

Besides, it’s not like Ricketts will bombard you with anything new. It’ll be all the old stuff about how you got rich in public office or went easy on your buddies at Nelnet. You did a very nice job of explaining that to Nebraska voters in 2012. Oh, wait. You didn’t. Well, good luck, anyway.

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Speaking of the Ricketts clan, Bloomberg has a good read
about the Ricketts family’s decision to take a page from the Koch brothers playbook by building a network of wealthy supporters for their Ending Spending PAC. Already onboard, according to Bloomberg, is Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who spent $100 million in 2012 to support a handful of Republican candidates, including presidential aspirant Newt Gingrich. No word yet on which five-star resort the Ricketts will choose to entertain their members.

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U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, who sailed to victory after securing the fundraising help of the Ricketts’ political action committee in 2012, was blessed last week with  two new grandchildren, Margaret May and Bryan Carl. One twin was born just before midnight and the other was born just after midnight. These lucky kids don’t have to share a birthday. Parents are Adam and Tisha Fischer.

 

Abortion, the big stage and the airwaves

Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer appears to be among a group of lawmakers being vetted by the Susan B. Anthony List as potential anti-abortion candidates on the national stage.

Fischer, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, talk show host Mike Huckabee and Utah Sen. Mike Lee were the top names at SBA’s annual Gala & Summit last week in Washington.

Word is that the right-wing group is unhappy that the last two Republican presidential nominees were more concerned about economic issues than social concerns, so it’s looking for anti-abortion candidates it can support in the 2016 primaries.

Part of that effort is finding a way to recast the abortion debate in terms that make it more acceptable to women voters. Fischer attempted to do that during the Susan B. Anthony List event:

“Abortion is not a woman’s issue,” she said. “It is not a men’s issue. it is not a health care issue. It is a violence issue.”

An issue of violence? That argument that is not likely to sway pro-choice female voters, but Fischer did better than Lee, Huckabee and Cruz, who had only red meat to offer the audience.

Huckabee predicted that if abortion is not stopped this generation, the next generation will be killing the elderly. Lee said pro-life voters are savages who embrace a culture of death. Not to be outdone, Cruz called them ruthless worshipers of Satan.

Fischer, in only her second year in the Senate, isn’t likely to find herself in the presidential mix in 2016, but who knows? If male candidates fail to charm female voters in 2016, Fischer might find herself very nicely positioned in 2020.

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Each of the four major candidates for Mike Johanns’ Senate seat have been endorsed by the anti-abortion Nebraska Right to Life PAC. They are Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale, Omaha lawyer Bart McLeay, former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, and Midland University President Ben Sasse.

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Shane Osborn’s campaign, meanwhile, is launching its first television commercial. About a month ago, the organization Special Operations for America ran a 30-second ad independent of the Osborn campaign, but this is the first commercial paid for by the campaign. Roll Call quotes an Osborn source as saying they made an $80,000 ad buy.

Aside

Debt ceiling passed, tidbits from the trail

SnowpacolypseFrustrated Americans may have learned the secret to motivating legislators to act quickly in Washington this week: Snow.

Eager to leave town ahead of a snowstorm, a “clean” debt ceiling bill was passed without any of the showmanship that stalled the debt ceiling hike last fall. It passed the House on Tuesday 221-201 and the Senate on Wednesday on a vote of 55-43.

The entire Nebraska delegation to Washington voted against extending the debt ceiling. The legislation, which is now headed for President Obama’s signature, suspends the debt ceiling until March 15, 2015, well past the November mid-term elections. The U.S. was expected to hit the current debt ceiling on Feb. 27.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate passed legislation that would repeal the 1 percent cut in military retirement pay for working-age retirees. Lengthy, expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have boosted military benefits to the point that they consume more than half of the American defense budget. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the Pentagon and Hill leaders are seeking ways to cut benefits, but heavy lobbying by veterans’ groups has stymied attempts at reform.

Bank executive and Nebraska Senate candidate Sid Dinsdale has opened a campaign office in Lincoln in the Candy Factory, 201 N. Eighth St. in the Haymarket. Dinsdale is an Elkhorn resident and chairman of Pinnacle Bancorp. His campaign website describes him as anti-Obamacare, anti-debt, pro-Keystone Pipeline and  secure-the-borders-first on immigration reform.

Republican wordmeister Frank Luntz would be proud of Republican Senate candidate Shane Osborn. In an interview with Brent Martin of the Nebraska Radio Network, Osborn remembered to use the word “bill” to describe Obamacare. Last year, with the launch of Obamacare looming, Republicans began referring to the Affordable Care Act as a bill, despite the fact that it had been law for nearly four years. Osborn also remembered to suggest that President Obama was a lawless dictator for delaying the employer mandate again.