Monday, May 01, 2006

McCain Endorses Osborne: But....WHY?

by Kyle Michaelis
Totally out of nowhere comes word that on Tuesday U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona will be holding a conference call with Nebraska reporters announcing his support of Tom Osborne for governor.


To be honest, I don't know what Osborne's thinking if he really believes this is going to help his chances. I've gone on record stating my belief that Osborne will still come through this close race with Gov. Dave Heineman, but the fact that Osborne should think it necessary to call in a supposed "heavy hitter" like McCain to give his campaign a boost displays a lack of confidence and a sense of desperation that could well send votes in the opposite direction.

Seriously, does Osborne think this is going to help? While McCain has an impressive national following, the man has absolutely no ties to Nebraska that would justify voters' taking his opinion into account as to who should be our next governor.

More than that, even though McCain fancies himself the 2008 Republican presidential front-runner, I have substantial doubt that Nebraska Republicans would support him. In fact, with many, I suspect McCain's endorsement will prove more of a liability than an asset - proof that Osborne has gone Washington D.C. and might, deep down, be a closet liberal (since the American people have, for whatever reason, embraced McCain as a moderate).

Frankly, McCain does not stand on a pedestal with Republican voters like he does with independents. And, too bad for Osborne, independent voters aren't going to be much help since only registered Republicans are allowed to vote in the primary. Sure, some have gone the "Republican-for-a-Day" route and crossed over just to vote in the primary but not enough that this is going to make a difference.

The only other population McCain's endorsement is likely to help with would be veterans, but I don't foresee such a huge shift there to justify the risk that Nebraskans will reject this sort of electoral interloping.

This late in the game, a real slam-dunk endorsement might have been worth the public's attention. If one of Osborne's fellow Nebraska Congressmen, Lee Terry or Jeff Fortenberry, had decided to join Osborne on the campaign trail, that would say something about his candidacy. But, bringing in John McCain to make a phone call on your behalf carries about as much weight as Barry Switzer. It's a distraction at best.

If Tom Osborne understands Nebraskans so well, I would expect him to know that. That he doesn't, speaks poorly of his political instincts or, at least, those of his advisers.

When Dennis Hastert came to Lincoln last week, it wasn't to make an endorsement - it was to help Osborne raise money. That's fine. But this McCain's just an endorsement. Over the phone - no less.

No one cares. No one should - let alone Osborne who should be focused more on winning over Nebraska voters and less on proving how popular he is in Washington D.C., even with the biggest of big-time politicians.


Blogger GI Curmudgeon said...

Here is one Independent that became a
Republican this spring to make his vote mean something. My pick is Nabity...I like what he says and I hope he "sweeps" in this final week before the Primary.

You are correct...McCain's endorsement means very little to most Nebraskans...and it might have cost Osborne a few votes.

Blogger HistoryChick said...

I respectfully disagree. If McCain stands for anything it is for campaign finance reform. If Osborne wins it will be with no money from Corporate America or PACs. His is a grand experiment and I can see why McCain would endorse him. I'm one of those Republicans-for-a-day, much as it made me sick to do it, but I want a moderate who is beholden to no one in office and unfortunately I don't think either Nabity or Heineman can say the same thing. And the fact that two of Osborne's fellow "Timid Trio" representatives didn't endorse him makes me feel even better, not worse. But then I'm not Republican so the fact that he's possibly a moderate or even, God forbid!, a closet liberal is good news to me.

I mean, after Archbishop Johanns, an independent-minded, down-home successful coach who can surround himself with effective people sounds pretty darn good.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...


I wish I had the same faith you do in Osborne. Though I trust that he's a good man, his political record leaves a lot to be desired. Even if Osborne is a moderate, he's surrounded himself with Republican party insiders and generally seems to "go with the flow" because he doesn't want to ruffle any feathers. His name recognition and his freedom from special interest money are incredible opportunities, but - for 6 years - they've been opportunies wasted.

Osborne has had the potential to be a true unifying force for Nebraka, but he's lacked the will necessary to be the true independent this state has needed. That's unfortunate but has shown no real sign of changing on the campaign trail.

Regardless, enjoy playing dress-up on election day. I love Halloween as much as the next guy but getting into costume once a year is enough for me. No, I'll be casting my vote for David Hahn in a meaningless Democratic primary that will, at least, mean something to me.

Anonymous Melanie said...

McCain is not exactly the ringing endorsement Osborne needs in the 3rd district. He's anti-farm to the hilt and he opposes ethanol production. McCain might as well tell Nebraska to curl up and die with stands like that.


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