Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Heineman Makes it Official

by Kyle Michaelis
Nebraska State Paper has a fairly comprehensive overview of the Nebraska political landscape now that Gov. Dave Heineman has announced his intention to run for election in his own right and has received the immediate endorsement of Sen. Chuck Hagel to continue in his current capacity.

Supposedly, Hagel's endorsement came as a surprise even to Heineman, as it did many commentators who expected a more hands-off approach, at least until Rep. Tom Osborne had announced his plans for the next election cycle.

Speculation abounds whether Hagel knows Osborne will not be running for governor and felt free to pick "a horse" or whether he is perhaps hoping to head off an Osborne bid to prevent what could be an ugly (and expensive) in-party fight. There's also no doubt that a Governor Osborne would have political clout that would rival Hagel's in the state Republican Party, not something Hagel needs as he prepares his apparent bid for the presidency when he could have a governor (Heineman) who now "owes him one."

Motives are hard enough to predict of normal people that it's all but impossible to guess what's really behind a smart and calculating politician's actions. Whatever Hagel's thinking, I'd say this obviously makes it that much more likely that Tom Osborne will not be running for governor.

Osborne has shown no willingness to use his celebrity to stand on his own two feet in Congress and has generally seemed content to be little more than a lapdog for the Republican Party when his handful of pet issues aren't on the table. I doubt he has the inclination or the instinct to really hunker down for a political battle. Seems more likely that if Osborne wants to get out of D.C. and settle down again back home, as reported, he'll be doing so as a private citizen.

Could be wrong, of course - surely the old coach that wouldn't accept a tie against Miami is somewhere in there waiting for a challenge. Maybe the actual problem will be that Heineman just isn't worth the effort. After all, what is the governorship to a man with no real political agenda of his own who also has three national championships and nothing left to prove?


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