Thursday, July 27, 2006

"Good for Me (Not Thee)" Haunts the NDP

by Kyle Michaelis
I can't even say "I told you so" because this is much worse than I had previously considered possible. The Omaha World-Herald reports:
Republicans fired back Wednesday at Democratic critics of Pete Ricketts' property tax protest, saying Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson did the same thing 21 years ago.

Nelson purchased his Omaha home in 1984 for $345,000. A year later, he filed a protest after the house was assessed at $256,500. Nelson prevailed, and the property's valuation was lowered to $220,000.

Mark Fahleson, a spokesman for the state GOP, said it was "hypocritical and deceitful" of Nelson and the Democratic Party to criticize GOP Senate candidate Ricketts in television and newspaper advertisements for doing the same thing Nelson had done earlier.

A Nelson spokeswoman responded that Republicans were comparing "apples to oranges," and that the two protests were not comparable.

Spokeswoman Marcia Cady also disclosed that Nelson successfully contested the valuation of his Washington, D.C., town house three times in the last three years....

Ricketts came under fire from the Democratic Party earlier this month for contesting his Omaha home valuation. He bought a house in 1999 for $1.2 million. He filed a protest in 2002, asking that the house be valued at $625,000. The county dropped it to $900,000.

He filed another protest this year when the county gave notice that his house's assessed valuation would be increased by 32 percent. He lost.

The State Democratic Party bought newspaper advertisements that used a Dr. Seuss-style rhyme and cartoon to criticize Ricketts.

Nelson said that Ricketts' valuation protest, along with the Republican's comments suggesting consideration of a national sales tax, was the beginning of a pattern.

"My opponent wants to pay less so others can pay more," Nelson said at an Omaha press conference Monday.

Fahleson said Nelson had been "dishonest" by not disclosing his own valuation protests. He called on Nelson to apologize to voters and for the State Democratic Party to pull advertisements critical of Ricketts....

Cady argued that there were key differences in the two protests. First, she said, Nelson had prevailed all four times. She also said Nelson did not argue that his property was worth half the purchase price.

Exactly how much Nelson argued that his home was worth in 1985 wasn't available Wednesday. His original written protest could not be found in the Douglas County Clerk's Office.

Cady said Nelson would not apologize. Barry Rubin, executive director of the State Democratic Party, said they would not withdraw any advertisements.

"Pete Ricketts has every right to protest his valuation. He does not have the right to say his home is worth half of what he paid for it," Rubin said.
(Insert Expletive Here)!?!

This was entirely avoidable and should never have happened. Never.

This is not Apples and Oranges. This is maybe a case of Red Delicious and Braeburns, but even that seems a bit of a stretch.

2 quick pointers: 1)There is nothing magical about the 50% valuation, and voters will not be convinced that there is; 2)Nelson's perfect record in protesting his assessments is not helpful. If anything, it portrays him as more of an insider who's even better than Ricketts at gaming the system. Right now, Nelson is known to have succeeded at getting his '85 valuation reduced to 64% of what he paid for the home - that's a hell lot better (or worse, from Nelson's current standpoint) than Ricketts has ever been able to manage.

Stop defending. Get off the damn subject. After all, this was never about Pete Ricketts' property taxes - it's about the national sales tax and Pete Ricketts continually putting his own self-interest before the interests of Nebraska's middle-class families. The whole property tax fiasco was only intended to illustrate this larger point.

If the facts accompanying the Nebraska Democratic Party's spiffy new ad are to be believed, the national sales tax Ricketts has advocated would reduce his taxes by 2/3rds while raising the tax burden on 95% of Nebraskans. Ben Nelson would never advocate an idea so ludicrous.

End of story.

Rinse. Repeat.
Rinse. Repeat.

And now, with a straight face, ask yourself - are Nebraska Democrats trying to lose this election?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure the Nebraska Democratic Party is running to take the stellar advice of someone who thinks it's appropriate to out a candidate's sister for political gain.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

Political gain? For the GLBT Community? Your damn right that's what I want.

That said, it is rather presumptuous and stupid of me to be tossing out advice here. I should be more humble and show more respect for those actually in the trenches.

But, Christ, this was just so unnecessary a risk - it actually played all right with the GOP's complaints earning free advertisement for the NDP in the Lincoln Journal-Star last week, but to have not covered your bases on these charges of hypocrisy was pretty darn Bush-league.

Blogger Dave said...

As much as I disagree with Nelson, the alternative - Pete Ricketts in office - is just so much worse. It would be a terrible failure of the Nebraska Democratic Party if they lost this election. If Nelson wins, it is as-expected for the party. The success of this party in the 2006 elections will be measured in how Nelson's win translates to the lower ticket races. But if Nelson loses, everything else will be coated in that failure.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...


I don't think a Nelson victory is such a zero-sum proposition. The Nebraska GOP wants that seat badly, even if their national leaders aren't showing much sign of making it a priority. Nelson's reelection, by itself, would assure Nebraska Democrats some measure of relevancy without which they would be left with only two options: close up shop or go guerrilla.

To be honest, the worst effect of a Nelson loss (besides Nebraska's losing a fine representative) would be on the national party. I think it would effectively kill Howard Dean and the DNC's "50-State Strategy," which is already going to be hard to maintain in 2008 with the intense pressures of a presidential election.

Other than that, the real prize in 2006 is the 20-plus open seats in the state legislature. Since those are non-partisan, Nelson can't be expected to have much for coat-tails. Those progressive candidates we have are largely going to have to prove themselves.

Blogger Dave said...

I think I seemed more pessimistic in that comment than I meant to be. To be clearer, I believe we have a real opportunity to win quite a few lower ticket races, and build the party up for the future. Much of the work the NDP is doing is geared towards turnout, which should help the lower ticket candidates. If Nelson wins, but we lose a number of competitive legislative and countywide races, it won't be a good night for the party. But if Nelson and many other Democrats win, it will be a very good night (hopefully against the back drop of a national victory).

That said, I am confident in our party's and our candidates' abilities to win in November.

Anonymous randy said...

these relevations definitely make the ndp's attempt at humor a mistake, but i think youre overlooking one small, but meaningful fact, ricketts is a terrible candidate. nelson would have to be caught in bed with a live boy or pete ricketts sister for this guy to get back in the game. i really don't see this lingering if nelson and the ndp go back to what they were doing before; talking about nelson and ignoring ricketts. again, i agree it was a mistake, but i'm willing to chalk it up to live and learn.
if youre a republican/conservative, you have your own failings and your own hypocricy to deal with. what am i thinking? you have proven to be far too chickenshit to accept responsibility for anything. christ knows you can't run on your record.


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