Catching up I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jenkins also was chairman of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

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

 

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

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.

 

The Ricketts edition

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

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

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

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

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

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