Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Germ of an Idea - Keep Hope Alive!

by Kyle Michaelis
Well, my last minute prayer for a horde of capable and exciting Democratic candidates to come out of the woodwork and file for state offices didn't quite come to fruition. For three of Nebraska's five constitutional officers - state auditor, state treasurer, and attorney general - we Democrats won't even have a choice on the primary ballot.

Moreover, as evidenced by this Lincoln Journal-Star article, it seems the Democratic Party's problems finding good candidates didn't stop at the state level. Here, for example, is a pretty good idea of what the Lancaster County ballot is going to look like in November:

Sort of depressing, isn't it? For all our talk of "taking back the state," that's going to be pretty darn hard to do without Democratic candidates who offer an honest alternative to the Republican status quo. Seems like we - especially myself - might have gotten a little bit ahead of ourselves in failing to take care of this most basic component of democracy.

Still, you know what, all hope is not lost. . . even for the 2006 elections discussed above. For example, see this article from the Iowa bureau of the Associated Press:
An Ames physician who has not sought public office before said he intends to seek the Democratic nomination in northern Iowa's 4th Congressional District.

Selden E. Spencer, 58, said he is circulating nominating petitions and expects to have enough signatures within two weeks to challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Latham.

"A lot of people are not comfortable with what's going on in Washington," Spencer said. "People should have a choice. Right now people don't have a choice."

Spencer, a neurologist at an Ames clinic, said he hadn't planned to enter politics but got discouraged when no Democrats stepped forward to challenge Latham.

"I'm a doctor, I'm not a politician," he said. "The Republican Party seems to have a monopoly in Washington, D.C., and our country has clearly been headed in the wrong direction."
There's a man taking matters in his own hands and doing what's best for not only the Democratic Party but the voters of Iowa. And, you know what, we have the same opportunity to fix this mess here in Nebraska via the "candidate by petition" process.

When a declared candidate must drop-out of the race, party leaders can actually appoint their own candidate to take his or her place. In these races where no Democratic candidates announced before the March 1st filing deadline, I don't believe that is an option. But, from my understanding of state election law, the petition process remains quite an easy way to correct this failure before the general election. The only cost is the original filing fee and the required number of signatures to get your name on the ballot appears to be no greater than those of 2000 registered Nebraka voters. That's easily doable if anyone else is similarly distressed and willing to make this commitment for the health of Nebraska's democratic process.

All I'm saying is that the door has not shut on these opportunities entirely. We shouldn't just resign ourselves to this failure when alternatives still exist. Of course, I'm still not calling for sacrificial lambs or ballot-fillers - if you're not qualified and not willing to run a serious campaign, don't embarrass yourself or the Democratic Party.

If you are qualified, though...if you do have the passion, the ideas, and the know-how to offer a reasonable alternative to this state's Republican water-carriers and sycophants...please, let's talk. Contact me at or, better yet, get those folks at the Nebraska Democratic Party on the phone and tell them you're willing to do what it takes.

Yes, we can close the book, focus on the few races that have candidates, and look to the future, but - the thing is - we don't have to. We still have a choice. We still have an opportunity. We still have an obligation to at least try to fulfill our obligation to the voters of Nebraska and fo fulfill our promise of a better way.

Any takers? Speak now or forever hold your peace and our shame.


Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

By the way, if anyone in the know thinks I got any of the finer points of Nebraska Election law wrong, please clarify (or offer your alternative understanding) here. The very real possibility exists, despite my reading of the state statutes, that I still have no clue what I'm talking about.

Anonymous K Ols said...

I think we have to ask why no one is challenging the Republicans. Maybe there aren't enough monied Democrats out there that have an interest. It seems to take millions to win a seat these days.

The other nagging problem seems to me is maybe enough of us figure the votes are so rigged that a Democrat doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of winning anything in NE.

Personally, I am deeply disappointed that no Democrats came forward to challenge Ben Nelson. I consider him a major DINO and not someone who represents most Democrats. Not when he votes in lock step with the Republicans at all times.

Surely we have qualified people out there somewhere if we could draft them. Any ideas as to who?


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