Sunday: Nine days out

Nebraskans have weighed in on what they think of Senate candidate Ben Sasse’s ad that has his daughters discussing Obamacare, and over the weekend we got to see what Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, thinks.
TheHillMay4SasseKids

The Sasse ad was one of many Sabato critiqued for an article in The Hill on the use of surrogates in campaign ads. With approval ratings for politicians somewhere on the level of used car salesmen, candidates commonly turn to others — often their relatives — to vouch for their character and commitment.

In case you missed it, the 30-second spot features gloomy music in the background, a close up on the girls talking about how their dad “despises” Obamacare and how they pray for the other Senate candidates every morning. And then, as if to show how they are just normal little girls after all, despite their intense thoughts on policy issues, we get two seconds of one of them saying she wants a pony.

uVoted4them has no problem with the use of children in campaign ads, but we would much rather see Sasse’s children in their normal roles of being children.

*****

The York News Times has endorsed Jon Bruning for governor, rejected both 3rd District U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith and his GOP challenger Tom Brewer, and taken a pass on choosing one of the Republicans vying to succeed Mike Johanns in the Senate.

Publisher Greg Awtry was disappointed by the late April debate between Smith and Brewer. Smith, he says, talks a good game about controlling government spending, but government spending has risen 46 percent over the course of Smith’s career in Congress, and the national debt has doubled. The clincher for Awtry seems to be both candidates’ support for the Keystone XL pipeline.

“We can’t endorse Col. Tom Brewer after his dismal performance (at the debate), and we sure can’t endorse Adrian Smith after his misguided allegiance to foreign oil pipeline companies over his own constituents fighting the Keystone XL. You see, Smith thinks it’s fine for a foreign corporation to take control of farmers’ and ranchers’ land in his Third Congressional District by using the power of eminent domain, and Brewer misstated the incorrect myth that this oil would help us import less oil from the Middle East.”

(For the record, most oil imported into the United States comes from Canada or Latin America. Brewer has erred on this throughout the campaign. At first, uVoted4them.com chose to give him a pass because he was a soldier and not a political pro, but campaigns should be learning experiences. After months on the trail, he’s still stuck in some other decade on this issue — not an encouraging sign.)

Here’s what publisher Awtry said about the four Republicans running for Senate.

YorkNewsTimesNoEndorseApril30

Read for yourself the News Times’ voter guide here.

Thursday

Shane Osborn’s Republican campaign for Senate has announced endorsements from DeeDee Kelly and four other Nebraskans prominent in the conservative cause. They are:

    • Laura Ebke, president of Nebraska Liberty Caucus
    • Doug Kagan, president of Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom
    • Mike Groene, chairman of Western Nebraska Taxpayers Association
    • Sheila Heieck, president of Omaha Liberty Ladies

*****

Tom Brewer, the retired Army colonel who is opposing 3rd District U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith in the May primary, is hosting an event from 7-9 p.m. Thursday at Ole’s Big Game Lounge in Paxton.

*****

Condolences to the family of Robert Keith Gray, a pioneering public relations and lobbying icon in Washington, D.C., who was born in Hastings, Neb. Hall started his Washington career in the Eisenhower administration, then became an operative for Hill & Knowlton. He opened Gray & Co. in 1981, and it became the first publicly traded public relations firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Gray, along with Joyce Hall and the brothers who founded Hallmark, were beacons of hope to decades of Nebraska J-School students. Although neither attended the University of Nebraska — Gray had an MBA from Harvard — they were living tributes to the idea that hard work and diligence could take a Nebraskan anywhere. Gray was 92.

Let the show begin

Buffalo Bill
It’ll be a full clown-car that rolls into North Platte on Friday morning, now that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has endorsed Republican Senate candidate Ben Sasse, and has signed on to the campaign event at Scout’s Rest.

uVoted4them.com had expected the Cruz endorsement Wednesday, but saw instead the Cruz endorsement of Pete Ricketts for governor. The Ricketts’ folks had a full day to bask in the glory of their catch, before the Sasse campaign received the honor.

In addition to Cruz and Sarah Palin, Ricketts has been endorsed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. We don’t know what Ricketts has planned for Nebraska if he’s elected, but we’re beginning to fear meaningless self-promoting stunts (Cruz), gaffe-prone rhetoric (Palin) and the steamrolling of worker’s rights (Walker).

In any event, it’s worth noting that Scout’s Rest was the home of Buffalo Bill Cody, who is remembered not so much for fighting Indians as he is for the wild West show.

*****

NBC News is suggesting that Tea Party organizations are pouring so much money into the Republican Senate race here because their candidates are losing in North Carolina and Kentucky.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appears headed to re-election in Kentucky over Tea Party pick Matt Bevin. Likewise, the establishment Republican candidate in North Carolina, Thom Tillis, has the lead, although there could be a runoff in that crowded field.

A Sasse victory in Nebraska would avoid a Tea Party catastrophe in the early primaries. Nebraska’s primary is May 13. The North Carolina primary is May 6. Kentucky, Georgia and Oregon hold their primary on May 20. Establishment candidates hold the lead in Georgia, and the likely victor in Oregon supports abortion rights.

Chuck Todd, NBC News’ political director, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann wrote in the First Read section:

 We maintain that the Tea Party still remains a powerful force in Republican politics — remember that 41 percent of the GOP voters voted against John Cornyn in March’s Texas primary. And there are many competitive primaries to watch in the months ahead … But right now, the establishment has been fighting back and it appears to have the early edge in many of May’s contests.”

Wednesday

Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Pete Ricketts has scored the endorsement of the U.S. Senate’s leading rabble-rouser and blowhard, Ted Cruz.

Congratulations, Pete!

*****

Wednesday night’s debate among the six Republican candidates for governor will be live streamed by the Norfolk Daily News. Doors open at the Johnny Carson Theater at Norfolk High School at 6:15 p.m., and a reception will be held in the cafeteria before the 7 p.m. start of the 90-minute debate. It is being sponsored by the Nebraska Republican Party, Norfolk High School and the Norfolk Daily News. Editor Kent Warneke reports that 600 tickets have been distributed, but plenty of good seats remain in the 1,234-seat theater.

*****

KRVN radio in Lexington reports that the Nebraska Farmers Union has endorsed Democratic Senate candidate Dave Domina, an Omaha-based attorney.

DaveDominaPortrait“We know that Nebraska agriculture will be well served by sending David Domina to the Senate,” said a statement from Gale Lush of Wilcox, president of the group’s political action committee, NEBFARMPAC. “His expertise in water and private property rights will serve our state well in the United States Senate.”

Nebraska Farmers Union is the state’s second largest general farm and ranch association, with 6,000 members. It supports ethanol, wind energy, and country-of-origin labeling, and opposes vertical integration in the farm economy.

 

Osborn, Sasse. No difference?

Time magazine has picked up on the battle being waged among Nebraska conservatives because of Freedom Works’ decision late last month to switch its Senate-race endorsement from Shane Osborn to Ben Sasse.

Last week, a group of about 50 libertarians, Tea Party supporters and other conservatives signed a letter blasting Freedom Works for pulling its endorsement of Osborn. A few days later, a group of about 100 different conservatives fired back in support of Sasse.

The question no one is asking, though, is: How much is a Freedom Works endorsement worth, anyway? To Freedom Works, the Nebraska Senate race is apparently worth only $38.72, which was the group’s entire contribution to Osborn in 2014.

Below is a screen-shot from the group’s 91-page March financial disclosure form. It shows that Freedom Works gave Osborn $38.72 worth of social media, email support or printing on Feb. 28, bringing its 2014 spending on the Osborn campaign to the same grand total of $38.72.

FreedomWorks32dollars
Freedom Works is spending money this primary season, but mostly in Kentucky and North Carolina, where it’s lending its muscle to the effort to dislodge Mitch McConnell and Kay Hagen from the Senate.

It looks like Freedom Works honcho Matt Kibbe and talk show host Glenn Beck weren’t just kidding when they joked during the CPAC convention that it didn’t really matter to them who wins Nebraska’s senate primary, Osborn or Sasse.

*****

A happy belated birthday to Melissa Sasse, the better half of Republican Senate candidate Ben Sasse. She turned 45 on Monday.

 

Endorsements, stereotypes and bad jokes

U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, the Republican representing Nebraska’s 1st District, has endorsed Ben Sasse in the Senate race and Pete Ricketts in the race for governor. Sasse was Fortenberry’s chief of staff during the “spring of 2005,” according to the Omaha World-Herald. We’ll have more to say about Fortenberry’s endorsement in an upcoming post.

*****

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer will be campaigning later this month in Iowa for Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst, according to the Weekly Standard. Former Alaska Gov. and Tea Party royalty Sarah Palin, who endorsed Fischer in 2012, has also endorsed Ernst and Nebraska’s Ben Sasse and Pete Ricketts. Palin endorsed Sasse for Senate in a Facebook post; she endorsed Ricketts for governor at a splashy event in Grand Island. The World-Herald has a nice photo of the two.

Tom Brewer's military career makes impressive campaign visuals, but you'd think it would also make him less likely to jump to conclusions about his fellow soldiers.

Tom Brewer’s military career makes impressive campaign visuals, but you’d think it would make him less likely to jump to conclusions about his fellow soldiers.

The day after Wednesday’s deadly shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, retired Army Col. Tom Brewer has issued a statement calling for all personnel on military bases to carry guns.

“The men and women of the United States military have spilled their blood across the globe to protect our way of life and the rights given to use by the Constitution, including the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. These rights should not be denied by our own government on American soil,” Brewer said in a news release.

The 36-year Army veteran, who served six tours of duty in Afghanistan, is Rep. Adrian Smith’s Republican opponent in Nebraska 3rd District. They will debate April 25. The winner of the primary will face Democrat Mark Sullivan of Doniphan.

Only law enforcement and security are currently allowed to carry guns on military bases. uVoted4them.com doesn’t want to be rude, but asks the question: If everyone is in uniform, and everyone has a gun, how is anyone going to be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys when the shooting breaks out?

We know Col. Brewer is a man of action, but isn’t it unfair to every veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to jump to the conclusion that the shooter, 34-year-old Ivan Lopez, suffered from PTSD? All we’ve heard is that he had been treated for depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation. PTSD was only one of the diagnoses being explored, and not everyone with PTSD goes on murderous rampages.

*****

One of uvoted4them.com’s email treats is Daily Kos’ daily roundup of campaign news from across the nation, which is usually handled in a far less ideological manner than most Kos content.

Here’s part of the email from Thursday:
Jesus

No, Jesus hasn’t entered a Nebraska House race. And, no, state Sen. Ernie Chambers hasn’t sued Jesus. “Jesus. Seriously?” was Daily Kos’ reaction to 2nd District Rep. Lee Terry’s insensitive joke about being late to a committee hearing because his plane was delayed, maybe because of a faulty ignition switch.

The hearing was about faulty ignition switches on General Motors vehicles linked to 13 deaths. GM hid the problem from 2001 until finally issuing a recent recall of 2.6 million vehicles earlier this year.

This is the second time in about six months Terry has gotten national attention for foot-in-mouth disease. He faces businessman Dan Frei in the Republican primary. State Sen. Brad Ashford is the Democrat in the race. Terry has apologized.

 

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.

*****

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.

*****

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.

Palin endorses Sasse; more poll numbers

Former Alaska Gov. and Tea Party princess Sarah Palin has endorsed Ben Sasse in the Nebraska Senate race.

“Ben Sasse is the clear conservative choice in the Nebraska Senate Race,” Palin said in her endorsement on Facebook.

“He’s witnessed firsthand the corrosive effect big government policies can have, and he knows that Obamacare is as bad as it gets. Ben is a leader we need in D.C. now! He won’t forget who sent him there because his life is firmly grounded in his small town Nebraska roots.”

Palin, who served half a term as Alaska governor and was Sen. John McCain’s running mate in 2008, announced on her Facebook page Wednesday that she would soon endorse a string of candidates who had been both thoroughly vetted and were bound to “shake things up.”

Palin and Sasse not only share  a common conservative objection to Obamacare, but also a love of guns.

Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse and his wife celebrated Valentine's Day this year with a romantic evening of gunfire -- an event they shared on Twitter.

Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse and his wife celebrated Valentine’s Day this year with a romantic evening of gunfire — an event they shared on Twitter.

For what it’s worth, Shane Osborn defeated “undecided” 35 percent to 30 percent in a recent poll by Breitbart News and The Polling Company. Ben Sasse came in third with 24 percent. Support for the rest of the Republican field — Sid Dinsdale, Bart McLeay and Clifton Johnson — was in the single digits.

The poll showed that ridding the nation of Obamacare was the main concern of poll respondents, with Osborn leading Sasse 35 percent to 28 percent among those who strongly oppose Obamacare. Forty-three percent of those polled said economic issues were the main factor in their preference.

uVoted4them.com puts this poll in the for-what-it’s worth category for several reasons:

  • Only six weeks ago, the Sasse campaign was trumpeting the news that Sasse had pulled into a dead heat with Osborn in a poll sponsored by the Conservative Intelligence Briefing blog.
  • None of the polls so far has met commonly accepted polling standards. The Sasse surge poll also raised questions about conflicts-of-interest by reporters Scott Clement and Peyton Craighill at the Washington Post.
  • It’s a Breitbart poll.

Are we going to have to wait until May 13 to find out what voters are really thinking?

Back to the kitchen?

Anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly in her 1970s heyday, and today with Shane Osborn.

Anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly in her 1970s heyday, and today with Shane Osborn.

UVoted4them.com has been waiting to see women’s issues emerge in the rhetoric of the Republican Senate race, and so far we’ve been disappointed. Until Tuesday, there was nothing — zip, zilch, nada — to lead us to believe the candidates considered women to be anything other than shapelier men.

And then Shane Osborn snagged the endorsement of Phyllis Schlafly.

Among Republican men, Mrs. Schlafly is highly regarded as a pioneer of the anti-feminist movement, the woman who almost single-handedly stopped the Equal Rights Amendment from ratification by the states during the 1970s.

With dire predictions that  constitutional protections for women would lead to such unthinkables as female soldiers in combat and unisex bathrooms, Mrs. Schlafly’s campaign stopped the ratification process almost overnight. She believed a woman’s place was in the kitchen, and there was no such thing as marital rape. (If he’s your husband, you haven’t been raped.)

Now 89, Mrs. Schlafly is still active in politics. Last month she agreed with a fringe conservative talk show host who suggested that conservative Americans launch a Ukraine-style 100-million-person march on the White House and depose President Obama.

“I don’t think our military and the few pitiful police they have would fire on the American people,”  host Stan Solomon said.  “We need to clean out that cesspool of Democrats and Republicans, of illegals, certainly, and say it’s to save America for Americans, basically.”

Replied Schlafly: “Yes. I agree. America for Americans.”

***

Having sent the message that women still belong in the kitchen, and that it might be time to end that nearly 250-year-old American tradition of democratic elections, Osborn and other Republicans might try to woo women with support for a rise in the minimum wage.

Voices for Children in Nebraska has released a poll showing majority support in Nebraska for raising the minimum wage. Among Democrats, 85 percent supported raising the minimum wage, as did 57 percent of independents and 35 percent of Republicans. A Gallup Poll from Thursday shows 71 percent support for a minimum wage increase nationally.

After all, independents are the fastest-growing group of voters in Nebraska, and 60 percent of workers earning minimum wage are women. Should we really have a minimum wage so low that someone who works 40 hours a week still lives in poverty?

***

Also on the subject of endorsements, awards and etceteras:

  • KWBE/1450 in Beatrice is reporting that Sen. Mike Johanns will not be making an endorsement in the 2014 Senate race.
  • Senate candidate Ben Sasse, meanwhile, has received the endorsement of Utah Senator and Ted Cruz chum Mike Lee.
  • Pinnacle Bancorp Chairman and Republican Senate candidate Sid Dinsdale is one of seven men who will be inducted into the Commercial Real Estate Summit Hall of Fame this year. The award recognizes individuals and their companies “for contributing to the state’s growth through construction, banking, law and development,” according to an Omaha World-Herald article by Cindy Gonzalez.
  • Democratic Senate candidate Dave Domina held a Q-and-A session with Nebraskans on Reddit on Thursday. It’s a nifty way to handle voter questions, and I highly recommend it as a replacement for those “telephone town halls” used by Nebraska’s members of Congress. There’s no hanging on the phone for 40 minutes, and everybody gets to ask questions. You can read the questions and answers here.

***

Did we mention that candidate Osborn attended one of those two-day  seminars designed, among other things, to teach Republican candidates how to reach female voters and speak in female-friendly terms? Click on the link to learn more.