Thursday, April 06, 2006

David Kramer Calls in Some Markers

by Kyle Michaelis
David Kramer, former Chairman of the Nebraska Republican Party and candidate for his party's 2006 Senate nomination, has had the hardest time getting his name out there of the three candidates in the GOP primary.

A large man who actually got himself into pretty good shape before kicking off his campaign, it nevertheless seems a little bit ironic that he has been so over-shadowed by the likes of Don Stenberg and Pete Ricketts. But, lacking the immense wealth that has Ricketts attempting to buy the race and lacking the advantage in name recogntion that has Stenberg trying to win it by default without even acknowledging that other candidates exist, Kramer has been left without a real "in" with Nebraska voters.

Of course, Kramer probably has the best personal story of the candidates and his demeanor - in person - is certainly the most charming (not saying much). But, ultimately, his message has not been different enough from that of Ricketts and Stenberg to really distinguish himself. If voters are looking for a Republican rubber stamp - which all three are toppling over themselves to be - then they might as well go with who they already know (Stenberg) or who they can't escape when they turn on the TV (Ricketts).

Still, as a long-time party insider, the one asset Kramer might have is his connections. This week, he's tried to put those to use, calling in favors and endorsements from a fairly impressive assortment of Republican state senators whom he helped elect to our officially "non-partisan" legislature.

The Omaha World-Herald reports:
Fifteen Nebraska state senators have endorsed Omaha attorney David Kramer in his bid for the U.S. Senate.

Lawmakers endorsing the former state Republican chairman include Sen. Kermit Brashear of Omaha, speaker of the Legislature.

The others: Ray Aquilar of Grand Island, Tom Baker of Trenton, Pat Engel of South Sioux City, Deb Fischer of Valentine, Mike Flood of Norfolk, Carol Hudkins of Malcolm, Joel Johnson of Kearney, Bob Kremer of Aurora, Chris Langemeier of Schuyler, LeRoy Louden of Ellsworth, Mick Mines of Blair, Ed Schrock of Elm Creek, Arnie Stuthman of Platte Center and Roger Wehrbein of Plattsmouth.

For whatever these endorsements are worth in the minds of voters (probably not much), it's still fairly impressive that Kramer managed to receive as many commitments as he did. 15 senators is almost one-third of the 49-member legislature, and it seems highly unlikely that any other candidate will be able to show anything close to as much support from the state capitol. In fact, I wouldn't expect any of the other candidates to even try because several of the remaining Republican state senators are bound to remain neutral or even support Ben Nelson.

More than a display of strength by "inside man" Kramer, who still remains at a terrible disadvantage, this really seems to be more of an insult to Don Stenberg. Stenberg served in state government for 12 years as Attorney General and is the best-known quantity in this race. It says a lot about his weakness as a candidate that this many state senators would not only refuse him their endorsement but actually support one of the other guys.

Strange dealings afoot. Stay tuned.


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