Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Our Man in the Third?

by Kyle Michaelis

Things are getting a little bit more exciting on the candidate front for the Nebraska Democratic Party. Yesterday, on his 30th birthday, Scott Kleeb announced he's running as a Democrat to replace Rep. Tom Osborne in the state's Third Congressional District. Young, well-spoken, and smart as hell, Kleeb might be just the man long-suffering Democrats in Western Nebraska have been waiting for.

The Omaha World-Herald reports:
Scott Kleeb, 30, a Yale graduate who works on a Dunning ranch, said Tuesday that he will seek the Democratic nomination to succeed Republican Rep. Tom Osborne.

Kleeb is the first Democrat to enter the race for the 3rd District, long considered a GOP stronghold.

Six Republicans already are dueling for their party's nomination. The primary election is May 9.

Kleeb, who opposes abortion and the death penalty, said that as a congressman he would work to improve agriculture markets and the district's infrastructure, including its schools, roads and hospitals.

He also said he supports ethanol, the Iraq war and efforts to find alternative energy. "Wind in the 3rd District is wonderful, it's huge and it's an untapped resource," Kleeb said.

Kleeb also believes his unusual background, and his education, will be a plus.

"We need young people coming back to our state. Folks who get their education and come back to the communities that they're from. That's exactly what I'm doing," he said....

Kleeb said he has always considered himself a Nebraskan, especially since his first year at the ranch.

"What makes me a Nebraskan is that I have identified with this place. I know what it's like to deliver a calf and get it breathing at 3 a.m. ," Kleeb said.

From the sound of it, I might disagree with the man on a few issues, but I'm keeping an open mind because - damn it - these issues are more complex than the thumbs-up or thumbs-down being reported this early in the game. Self-appointed labels are convenient for newspapers but anyone who votes on their basis rather than a careful examination of an individual candidates' actual statements is doing a great disservice to our democracy.

To be honest, though, a Democrat talking about Nebraska's potential in wind energy production already is in my good graces. This techonology has sat under-developed and under-utilized for too long. I've seen reports that this state is 4th in wind energy potential but 46th in its actual production. How pathetic and short-sighted can we be?

It's high time our great system of public power makes this investment in a cleaner, less oil-dependent future. In the Third District, alternative energy and agricultural policy are the areas where a truly PROGRESSIVE voice with BOLD ideas is so needed...especially with the Republicans talking about drastic changes coming in the 2007 Farm Bill that, if recent legislation serves as any indicator, is sure to benefit giant agricultural interests and corporations at the expense of family farms and the American taxpayer.

On a side note, Kleeb's announcement follows on the heels of an exciting development in Omaha last week with Democrat Jim Esch, 29, announcing his own bid to unseat four-term Republican Rep. Lee Terry in the 2nd Congressional District. Great to see these young energetic candidates, hopefully with some fresh ideas, taking the lead.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of the state Democratic Party Barry Rubin is quoted in today's Lincoln Journal-Star promising Democrats soon will have candidates in the 2006 governor's and 1st Congressional District races. That is most welcome news.

Nebraska Democrats must offer an alternative - the people demand and deserve it. The Republicans have gone unchallenged for too long. It's allowed them to make a mess of so much without being held accountable in the slightest. It is time for Nebraskans to wake-up to the new Democratic Party with new faces, renewed passion, and a freedom from dogmas of Democrats past - an independence on hot button issues rooted in character, principle, and conscience - that no Republican in this state has the guts to match.

It is time for a new Nebraska with a new political identity, rooted in the issues and values of the citizenry rather than the label they wear. It is time to turn off the blinders, say good bye to the color coded maps, and get back to the work of building a stronger America and a better world.


Anonymous Mr. Wilson said...

First things first: that photograph is obnoxious. Is he auditioning for a soap opera or running for public office? My first impression of him was "Wow, what a pretentious putz!" I don't think that's what he was going for.

As for his chances, my reaction to him is: meh. Nothing about him strikes me as especially exciting or unique relative to his GOP challengers. His position on wind power doesn't distance him; plenty of politicians talk up wind power all the time. Occasionally we even get a turbine or two as a result. He'll have to do better than "wind power is good."

Now a politician who extols the virtues of nuclear power. THAT's somebody willing to take some chances and support real energy solutions. That politician would take a beating from the anti-glowing water crowd, but at least he'd be showing some chutzpah and differentiating himself from his opponents.


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