Politics 2014 – Who’s In, Who’s Out – Make A List

Published on Monday, 19 August 2013 18:24
Written by thenebraskasigna

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By J.L. Schmidt

By J. L. Schmidt, Statehouse Correspondent, Nebraska Press Assoc.

Time was when the State Fair and/or Labor Day was the traditional time for announcing candidacy for statewide office in Nebraska. Said announcements were often “events” designed to get the most spin out of the announcement. With the popularity of social media, such news is now often spread in tweets whenever.

So, if you want to keep up with who’s in and who’s out in the 2014 races, I suggest you get a large sheet of paper and divide it into grids with a wide column for Governor and one for U.S. Senate. Beside each wide column you should have two narrow columns indicating In and Out. Post the paper in an appropriate place: your garage, your basement, the back of the bathroom door.

Write in the names of the usual suspects, but do it in pencil. These things change quicker than a columnist can keep track. Under Governor you can list Democrats or Republicans in whatever order suits your voter registration card. Hint: leave more space for Republicans since there are more of them in Nebraska. It’s too early to tell you how to prioritize things in the Senate race, which might take a few more months.

Ready? Let’s go to Governor/Republicans. Put these names in chronological or alphabetical order, no matter. State Senator Charlie Janssen of Fremont has been in the race for what already seems to be a long time since he has been issuing news releases on what he perceives to be nearly every topic of dinner table conversation that might occur. You can also add Senator Tom Carlson of Holdrege and Falls City businessman Charles Herbster who owns a large cattle feeding operation and a multi-level marketing business that has apparently made him financially successful. While you’re at it, add Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts who is said to be ready to throw a baseball cap into the race.

The unsuccessful 2006 GOP U.S. Senate nominee is currently co-owner of the Chicago Cubs. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has sent an e-mail to supporters to tell them he’ll be running for re-election as Attorney General, not Governor. So don’t add him to the list.

Now go to Governor/Democrats. Former University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook should be first on your list. He was brave enough to step out a while ago as the first Democrat in the race. The Lyons resident is also the director of the Center for Rural Affairs. Add the name of State Senator Annette Dubas of Fullerton to the list. She said she’ll announce next month, but she’s in and hopes to make a race out of the primary and put some of her rural ideas on the line. DO NOT add Omaha State Senator Steve Lathrop to the list. He sent a tweet recently indicating he won’t be a candidate, this time, and has opted to finish his lawmaking obligations and take a look at a possible future race.

The hard part is done. Now go to the U.S. Senate column, under Republicans. Former State Treasurer and decorated Navy veteran Shane Osborn was the first to put his oar in the water and remains the only one in the race. Get ready to add Midland University President Ben Sasse. The former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services during the last two years of the George W. Bush administration says he’ll announce around Labor Day. There is nothing to write in the Democrat column, yet.

The Dubas – Hassebrook contest could pivot on each candidate’s stand on abortion. Nebraska Right to Life endorsed Dubas during her last legislative race. Hassebrook was endorsed by Planned Parenthood Voters of Nebraska during his 2006 Regent’s race and refused to join other NU regents who tried to restrict stem cell research. He said he supports current law on abortion in Nebraska, the majority of which was offered by pro-life Democrats in the officially non-partisan Unicameral and signed into law by then Governor Ben Nelson, also a pro-life Democrat.

Some observers say that Rickett’s entry in the Republican gubernatorial race could make the whole game expensive again. In 2006, he spent about $12 million of his own cash in a failed attempt to defeat Nelson. You might want to add another column to your chart to track campaign finance reports if such things interest you.

OK, pencils down now. We’ll update your lists again during the nine months remaining before the 2014 primary.