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.

 

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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More odds and ends

With the support of Nebraska Reps. Lee Terry, Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith, the House passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2015 budget on Thursday, which calls for deep cuts in federal spending — $5.1 trillion over 10 years — and the privatization of Medicare.

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If you Google “who receives farm subsidies” and go the EWG Farm Subsidy Database, you’ll find the names of about 15 Dinsdales who live in either Palmer, Elkhorn or Omaha listed as beneficiaries of the government’s subsidy program between 1995 and 2012. Nebraska Senate candidate Sid Dinsdale grew up in Palmer, lives in Elkhorn and works in Omaha. What are the odds that he knows some of those folks?

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Senate candidate Ben Sasse tried to put the no-big-deal slant on campaign finance during Wednesday’s debate by noting that more money was spent on potato chips than political campaigns during the ’06 and ’08 cycles.

Thanks for the history lesson, Dr. Sasse. The question was about campaign spending since 2010, when the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United ruling started feeding billions more dollars into campaign coffers. uVoted4them.com is still waiting for an answer, but thanks for the trivia.

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Finally, polling shows a larger divide between Republicans and Democrats on climate change during the Obama administration, based at least in part on the parties’ fundamental policy positions.

Republicans are more likely to oppose comprehensive efforts to combat climate change because they would require a federal role nationwide, thus stealing “liberty” from the American people. Democrats, of course, don’t have the same ideological opposition to federal intervention.

Here’s how Oklahoma Sen. Jim  Inhofe explained it to Roll Call:

Jim Inhofe from Roll Call

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.

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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.

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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.

 

After the long weekend

Nebraska’s Democratic Party has decided to allow voters registered as independents to vote in the upcoming May 13 Democratic primary. State law allows political parties to open their partisan state and local races to independents, and Democratic party leaders recently voted to do just that.

“This vote emphasizes the openness of our party and the great importance we place on the political process and voter participation in all elections,” Vince Powers, Democrat Party state chairman told the Omaha World-Herald’s Martha Stoddard.

Independents are the fastest growing segment of voters in Nebraska. They make up 19 percent of registered voters. Thirty-three percent are Democrats and 48 percent are Republicans.

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Dave Domina

Dave Domina

Democratic Senate candidate Dave Domina has come out against the recently announced Comcast-Time Warner merger. “It’s not quite Coke buying Pepsi, but it’s close enough to raise alarm.” Domina says on his web site.

Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company with more than 20 million cable and broadband customers, has proposed buying Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second largest cable company, with 11 million cable/broadband clients. The merger requires regulatory approval, and consumer advocates say further consolidation of the cable and broadband industries it would be harmful to consumers.

“The inevitable upshot of the merger, if allowed, will be to reduce competition, diminish quality and diminish competitive incentives created to improve quality and increase consumer prices,” says Domina, an Omaha attorney.
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Omahans Dan Frei, left, and Brad Ashford are seeking the Lee Terry's House seat.

Omahans Dan Frei, left, and Brad Ashford are seeking to replace Lee Terry in the Houset.

Republican House member Lee Terry was either clairvoyant or the beneficiary of a leak last week when he sent out a fundraising email saying Democrats were trying to unseat him. Terry didn’t yet have a Democratic opponent, but he received one the very next day when Brad Ashford filed for the 2nd District as a Democrat.

Ashford, 64, is a political veteran who has been a Republican, an independent and, now, a Democrat. He served in the state Senate from 1987-95, and was sent back to the statehouse in 2006 by voters in the 20th legislative district. He is term-limited from seeking another term in the legislature.

Terry’s opponent in the Republican primary is Omaha businessman Dan Frei.

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Sentencing for Jason Dannelly, Midland University’s former athletic director, is set for April 7. Danelly pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of attempted solicitation of prostitution. As part of a plea deal, felony charges were dropped and the solicitation charges were reduced to attempted solicitation. The charges stem from Dannelly’s attempts to solicit sex from two female Midland University student-athletes during the fall of 2012. Nebraska Senate Candidate Ben Sasse is president of Midland University.

Dannelly, 34, was the college’s AD from August 2011 until his firing in late 2012. A Dodge County District Court judge accepted Dannelly’s no contest plea and found him guilty on Feb. 3. As part of the plea arrangement, Dannelly is eligible for probation, but will have to undergo psychological evaluation.

Press reports have ignored the connection between Sasse, Dannelly and Midland. Google searches will turn up Sasse‘s good words when Dannelly was hired, but nothing since the arrest. If this connection seems unfair, Midland has only 1,300 students and there aren’t many links in the chain of command between a small-college president and his AD.

According to the Grand Island Independent, Dannelly is a native of St. Edward who worked in Grand Island before moving to Midland. He was an assistant girl’s basketball coach at Grand Island Central Catholic and a radio personality at KRGI. He also started a company there that promoted NAIA student athletes called Victory Sports.
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CNN has updated its story about the Republican National Campaign committee’s use of phony websites that appear to be on behalf of a Democratic candidate, but are really intended to raise money to oppose the candidate. The RNCC says it has altered some of the pages so it is clear that they oppose the candidate. At least one person has mistakenly donated to the RNCC through these pages.

Catching up

LeeTerryEmailFeb12

Rep. Lee Terry sent out this email Wednesday evening soliciting money for his reelection campaign. Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are willing to do anything to take his 2nd District seat away from him?  Apparently not. As of yet, Democrats have failed to finish the first step: Finding a candidate. Potential opponents still have another couple of weeks to file the formal paperwork with the secretary of state’s office, but it looks like Terry will skate through 2014.  

*** Third District House candidate Tom Brewer has completed treatment for leukemia and is returning to the campaign trail, according to KCSR in Chardon. Brewer has a meet and greet scheduled Sunday from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Praire Pines in Chadron.

*** Mark your calendars now: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has proclaimed the week of February 24 Stop Government Abuse Week. Cantor says House Republicans will be bringing a package of legislation to reign in President Obama’s ability to issue executive orders and regulatory guidance to federal agencies. Cantor says the Obama administration “is threatening people’s liberty and their hard-earned paychecks.”

Republicans have been ramping up the fear campaign since the State of the Union Address, when the president announced he would sign an executive order raising the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors to $10.10 an hour. Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska’s 3rd District went after it full-force last week in a column in The Business Farmer. Smith suggested that Obama would use an executive order to impose gun control, and said it represents a “dangerous shift in power.”

SmithColumnFeb6

So, once again, we present this chart on the use of executive orders, showing Obama to have issued the smallest number of executive orders since President Cleveland.

Presidential Executive Orders

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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.

Notes from the campaign trail

1st District Rep. Jeff Fortenberry was the only member of Nebraska’s delegation in Washington to vote for the $1.1 trillion budget bill. Regardless, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 passed easily (72-26) without the support of Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer or Reps. Lee Terry and Adrian Smith (359-67).

Shane Osborn, Republican candidate for Senate, found himself in hot water Thursday after a Tweet that criticized the new omnibus budget plan as a “short bus to nowhere.” A short bus is a small school bus often used to transport children with disabilities, and the reference was derogatory. Osborn apologized and yanked the tweet, but fortunately there’s a website where it lives on in infamy. Among those who saw the tweet was Jordan Gehrke, a senior advisor to rival Ben Sasse, who responded: “Agree. Awful bill but mocking special needs kids?”

Conservative radio host Mark Levin has endorsed Republican Senate candidate Ben Sasse. Levin, who uses his show to bash all things Obama, most recently accused the president of attempting to stage a “gradual, quiet coup,” through his use of executive orders. Sasse also has a new video featuring his toddler in which he talks about contraception, abortion and Obamacare. Who’s listening, though, with an adorable kid in the scene?

Bart McLeay has snagged the endorsement of his fellow Kutak Rock law partner, former U.S. Sen. Dave Karnes,  and former U.S. Rep Jon Christensen of Nebraska’s 2nd District. In 1988, Gov. Kay Orr appointed Karnes to serve the remainder of U.S. Sen. Ed Zorinsky’s term after his untimely death. Christensen served two terms in the House, from 1995-99.

Rep. Lee Terry has a new campaign manager, Kevin Conroy, who’s worked on both on the Hill as a staffer and in a bunch of Republican campaigns. In 2008, he was field coordinator for both Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson in the all-important New Hampshire presidential primary. We wish him better luck in Nebraska.

Mark your calendars now:

  • Jan. 27, Union-busting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will appear at an Omaha campaign rally for Pete Ricketts, a candidate for Nebraska governor. The Ricketts family, individually and through the Ending Spending Action Fund, heavily backed Walker in his 2012 recall battle.
  • Jan. 28, President Obama’s State of the Union address.
  • Jan. 29, the first debate for Republican senate candidates at the Gering Civic Center. The sleepy Scotts Bluff County town of 8,500 will give the candidates a chance to dust off their debate skills before the main events..
  • Feb. 4, National Republican Senatorial Committee fundraiser for Shane Osborne in Washington.

Back to business as usual

With less than 24 hours left until a likely default, the House and Senate reached agreement late Wednesday on a deal that reopens the federal government and avoids a breach of the debt ceiling.

By a margin of  81-19 in the Senate and 285-144 in the House, Congress approved H.R. 2775 to fund the government through Jan. 15 and covers the debt limit until Feb. 7

Nebraska’s entire delegation, Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer, and Reps. Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry and Adrian Smith, supported the measure.

Smith, Terry and Fortenberry were among the 87 House Republicans who joined 198 Democrats in passing the budget and debt deal. In the Senate, the measure gained the support of all Democrats and all but 18 Republicans.

Voting against it were such vocal opponents as Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas,  Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Mike Lee of Utah. There was concern earlier in the day that Cruz would use a procedural move to delay the vote until at least Thursday.

The Senate voted about 9 p.m. CDT and the House voted just after 11:15 p.m. CDT.

In the end, Republicans had little to show for the 16-day shutdown of the federal government and stretching the debt ceiling to the brink. They failed to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act, although they did win a minor concession involving income verification for those receiving federal subsidies to buy health insurance.