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.

A little bit of everything

The good news for Michael Wilson is that, at 20, his arrest for underage drinking will qualify for one of those “young and dumb” excuses when he runs for office at 40.

Michael Wilson says his M.I.P arrest shouldn't affect voters, because he's the same person he was before he was arrested. Ah, youth. No, Michael, you are now a person with a rap sheet.

Michael Wilson says his M.I.P arrest shouldn’t affect voters, because he’s the same person he was before he was arrested. Ah, youth. No, Michael, you are now a person with a rap sheet.

The bad news for Michael Wilson is that his current campaign for Ward 1 of the Fremont City Council is probably over.

The MIP arrest was bad enough, but what has a lot Fremont residents talking is Wilson’s it’s-no-big-deal comments to the Fremont Tribune:
Michael Wilson

Many Fremonters will undoubtedly think twice about voting for a candidate too dumb to understand what every other underage college kid knows: You don’t drink noisily in public, at loud parties, where annoyed neighbors are likely to call the police. Wilson, by the way, just turned 20 in March. He studies political science and public relations at Midland University.

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It’s been difficult keeping up with endorsements in the Nebraska Senate race. We hope we’re not leaving anyone out.

Sid Dinsdale — Former congressman and Gov. Charles Thone. Former Nebraska football coach and U.S. Rep. Tom Osborne. Sarpy County board member Don Kelly and Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov. Mayors David Black of Papillion, Doug Kindig of LaVista, Scott Kudrna of Auburn, Rick Landwehr of Lorton, and Jim Timmerman of Gretna.

Bart McLeay — Former U.S. Rep. Jon Christensen of Nebraska’s 2nd District and former U.S. Sen. David Karnes.

Shane Osborn — Steve Forbes, publishing mogul and former presidential candidate, Phyllis Schlafly, National Defense PAC, Combat Veterans for Congress PAC, National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition, Family-PAC Federal, Concerned Women PAC, radio host Rick Amato, and former 3rd District U.S. Rep. Bill Barrett. Former Creighton Law School Dean Patrick Borchers has also endorsed Osborn, as have a dozen or so former or current Nebraska state senators. They include Ray Aguilar, Colby Coash, Pat Engle, Scott Lautenbaugh, Bill Kintner, Rich Pahls, and Scott Price.

Ben Sasse — CatholicVote.org, Freedom Works, Senate Conservatives Fund, Club for Growth, Dick Armey, Rep. Paul Ryan, National Review, Red State blogger Erick Erickson, radio host Mark Levin, Sen. Tom Coburn, Gun Owners for America, Family Research Council, Sen. Mike Lee, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Additionally, all four Republican Senate candidates have been endorsed by Nebraska Right to Life.

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After the defeat of measures that would expand Medicaid and raise the minimum wage in Nebraska, a group of state senators is sponsoring a Rally for Working Families next week at the state Capitol. It starts at 5:30 p.m. April 8 on the west (Lincoln statue) side of the Capitol. Check here for more information. Sponsoring Senators include Jeremy Nordquist, Danielle Conrad and Heath Mello.

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Nebraska’s Ricketts family is using their Ending Spending super PAC to launch attack ads against Michelle Nunn, a Democrat who is running for the U.S. Senate in Georgia. Ending Spending is spending $150,000 on media time to run the ad that attacks Nunn for — what else? — supporting Obamacare.

Nunn has been polling well, leading three of the four Republican candidates to replace the retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, and is tied with the Republican frontrunner, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun. Democrats consider Georgia a state where they may pick up a Senate seat. Among those campaigning for Nunn are Vice President Joe Biden.

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It’s not often that we get emails from Sen. Mike Johanns, so his warning about a phishing scam must be important. A group purporting to be the Taxpayer Advocate Service is attempting to collect personal information through an email saying that your 2013 return has been flagged and that you should contact the group. Sen. Johanns recommends not clicking on any of the links and forwarding the email to phishing@irs.gov

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Finally, uVoted4them.com has had enough of the complaints about the legislature’s override of a bill allocating state funds for the renovation of the state Capitol. We’ve been to capitols all over the country, and Nebraska has a one-of-a-kind, the likes of which will never be built again. For those Nebraskans who take for granted our work of art, we post this photo from a current AP story about Art Deco muralist Hildreth Meiere, one of the world-class artists on display every day in Lincoln.

JohnansRotunda2

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.

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.”

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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?

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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.

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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.

Senate race roundup

Omaha banker and Republican Senate candidate launches first commerical

Omaha banker and Republican Senate candidate launches first commercial

If you missed Sid Dindale‘s first commercial during Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News Wednesday night, you can catch it here on YouTube.com The Omaha World-Herald says it’s a small, $15,000 buy, but we’ll undoubtedly see more from the Omaha banker’s campaign to succeed Mike Johanns in the Senate. All of the major GOP candidates for Senate have now launched commercials.

If a 16-day government shutdown didn't kill Obamacare, how do Nebraska's Senate candidates expect to do it?

If a 16-day government shutdown didn’t kill Obamacare, how do Nebraska’s Senate candidates expect to do it?

All of the Republican candidates are on the Obamacare-must-be-abolished bandwagon, but none has explained how it will be any more possible in 2015 than it was in 2013, when the House voted more than 50 times to abolish the Affordable Care Act.

The reality is that these things will have to happen first: A Republican takeover of the Senate (highly unlikely this year) AND the untimely, unfortunate deaths of both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. It is only with Republican control of the Senate and a President John Boehner (there’s a thought!) that the Affordable Care Act could be killed.

So major league kudos to Chris Schukei, assistant news director at KHAS/TV5 in Hastings, for trying to press Senate candidate Shane Osborn on how he would be any more successful in killing Obamacare than the man he hopes to replace, Sen. Mike Johanns.

Schukei’s question: “When all of you are talking about being able to repeal it and make the changes, isn’t it the reality that the equation is going to be the same? Mike Johanns has been voting no against this all the way. So, can any of you go to Washington and make any difference in this?”

Osborn’s answer: “I think you can make a difference. If you couldn’t, I wouldn’t be doing this. Right? You have to go there and build relationships and work together to get what’s best for the country done, and put the country first.” You can see the full interview at YouTube.com. This exchange starts at about 1:38.

Osborn obviously misses the point, but you can’t really blame him. None of the Republican Senate candidates has addressed the real life obstacles that killing Obamacare would involve. And that includes prop candidate Ben Sasse, who traveled the state with a 12-foot stack of paper to represent all of the federal regulations related to Obamacare. (It’s the nation’s health care system. Of course it’s complicated. Medicare Part D was complicated, too)

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Monday is the last day for aspiring members of Congress to file paperwork with the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office for the May 13 primary. Candidates need to appear in person and bring $1,740 to cover the filing fee.

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Finally, uVoted4Them.com is soliciting questions you would like to see answered by House and Senate candidates before the primary election. How old is the Earth? is the first question on our list. It may seem silly, but the answer — 5,000 years or a whole lot older than that — tells you a lot about a person and their politics.

Add your questions through the comments box or send them to  acjc40@aol.com

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.

Senate notes

Max Baucus is new ambassador to China
Montana Sen. Max Baucus was elevated to ambassador to China Thursday by his Senate colleagues. They confirmed his nomination by President Obama on a vote of 96-0. Nebraska Sens. Deb Fischer and Mike Johanns voted for Baucus, a Democrat who served nearly 36 years in the Senate. Baucus voted “present” on his nomination. Not voting were Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, and Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran.

Unemployment extension fails again, Johanns and Fischer opposed
The Senate fell one vote shy Thursday of moving ahead on legislation that would have renewed extended unemployment benefits for 1.7 million Americans. Nebraska Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer, both Republicans, voted against the extension.

S. 1845 picked up four “yes” votes from Republicans, but failed 58-40. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the 59th vote, changed his “yes” vote to “no” to preserve the bill’s procedural status as eligible for reconsideration.

It was the Senate’s second failed attempt to renew extended unemployment benefits since they expired Dec. 28.

The $6.4 billion extension was negotiated between Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Dean Heller of Nevada. Heller, Collins, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska provided the extension’s only Republican “yes” votes.

The latest extension attempt would have been paid for through changes in the federal retirement programs, known as “pension smoothing.” Republicans have no objection to pension smoothing, but would rather use the money to restore small cuts in cost of living adjustments in military retiree benefits.

An attempt to pass a three-month extension that would not be paid for also failed Thursday, 55-43. It was also opposed by Sens. Johanns and Fischer.

States individually determine the length and amount of unemployment benefits, but Congress commonly extends unemployment benefits in period of high unemployment. These extensions are paid for by the federal government.

Nebraska Senate candidate Dinsdale would be third richest member of Congress

Using data from Roll Call and financial disclosure forms, the Omaha World-Herald is reporting that banking executive and Republican Senate candidate Sid Dinsdale would be at least the third wealthiest member of Congress if elected today. His competitors in the race for Sen. Mike Johanns’ seat are far from poor, but none has wealth even approaching that level.

Dinsdale, chairman of the Pinnacle bank holding company started by his family, is worth at least $110 million, according to the World-Herald, but could be worth much more because assets are reported in broad categories. He would rank third in Congress behind Rep. Darrell Issa, Republican from California, who is worth at least $335 million, and might surpass Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who is worth at least $114 million. Issa made his fortune in car alarms. McCaul married into one of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies.

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.