Wednesday, October 12, 2005


by Kyle Michaelis
Just in time for Halloween - be a Republican-for-a-Day!

The AP reports on the possibility of Nebraska Democrats and registered independents changing their party affiliation to have a say in the 2006 Republican primary, particularly in the closely-watched gubernatorial race pitting would-be incumbent Dave Heineman against coaching-legend-turned-Congressman Tom Osborne.

The article quotes liberal Nebraka activist Tim Rinne extensively, as he explains his reasoning for putting a temporary "R" by his name:
Last month Rinne, a registered nonpartisan, walked into the Lancaster County Election Commissioner's office and switched to the Republican Party. Why?

Rinne said Tuesday he wants to have a voice in who the next governor is. And at this point, there are no Democratic candidates and three Republicans. People registered as Republicans will have a vote in the May primary on the candidates they want to see advance to the general election in November.

Everyone else - about 50 percent of registered voters - would not get a say. "Half the electorate of Nebraska is going to be disenfranchised," Rinne said....

The latest official registration numbers compiled by the state are from November. They show 50 percent registered as Republicans, 34 percent as Democrat and 16 percent as something else....

Election commissioners across the state contacted Tuesday - including those in the three most-populated counties of Douglas, Sarpy and Lancaster - said most people who switch their parties before the primary will do it closer to the May 9 vote.

The registration changes in September for Lancaster County didn't show any trends, said election commissioner Dave Shively. Thirty people switched from Republican to Democrat and 32 switched from Democrat to Republican. Twenty-two switched from nonpartisan to Republican, and 28 switched from nonpartisan to Democrat.

So, basically, there is no story here...not yet...but this article is doing everything in its power to create one with its none-too-subtle suggestion to non-Republicans to join the party, even if just for election day.

One can only speculate what the effect of such a movement might be. Some think it would amount to a bunch of Husker fans crossing-over to help Osborne, while others suspect Nebraska Democrats might support Heineman in hopes that their eventual candidate would have a better chance against him.

Who knows? There might even be a voter or two who want to have a say between the two candidates based on actual issues. Hey, anything's possible.

But, note the following assurance before thinking this is a real clever idea:
Nebraska Democratic Party Executive Director Barry Rubin said he expects the party to have a candidate named within a month. Rubin said he hadn't heard of any movement toward Democrats switching to vote Republican for the governor's primary.

"I'd encourage anyone who's thinking of doing that to do not do so, because we will have a strong candidate who will compete in this race," Rubin said.

Let the countdown begin. I'm curious to see who the Democrats pull out of their hat. Regardless of who it is or their chances, this election is about more than winning for Nebraska Democrats. It's about legitimacy and proving to the people of this state that they have a voice of their own and deserve a seat at the table.

Voters' trust and confidence must be earned. New connections must be formed - a new identity forged - on the issues people care about and on that most basic human level where our shared values and common interests shine through.

Of course, a mountain of campaign cash couldn't hurt either, as much as I hate to admit it. But, no dollar amount is going to mean a damn thing unless the candidate in whose name it is spent can look his Republican rival in the eyes, tell him he's wrong, then look to the voters of Nebraska and tell them why and what he (or she) as a Democrat - more importantly, as a Nebraskan - is offering as a better alternative.

At least, in theory, that's how it's supposed to work....


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