Thursday, November 02, 2006

November 7th: A Beautiful Dream

by Kyle Michaelis
I'm a skeptic - can't help it, that's who I am. I don't do hype. I don't stay on message. Oftentimes, if I don't have anything good to say, I don't say anything at all....but that's pretty much the extent of how far I'll compromise myself in service to the cause.

Still, I know my opinions are just those of one person. There are plenty of more intelligent, more dedicated, and more successful people whose opinions are probably more valid than my own. On that note, two long-time leaders in Nebraska Democratic Party politics have expresssed a previously unthinkable excitement about the prospects for near-total Democratic domination - here in Nebraska - on Election Day.

Well, I can't go there with them, but I'm happy to share what they've had to say. For starters, Vince Powers, National Committeeman of the Nebraska Democratic Party, shared the following words below about our political landscape heading into the last weekend before the election:
Folks, the President of the greatest country in the world is not coming to Nebraska because one candidate is behind; he is coming because all 4 repub federal candidates are in major trouble. I hear GOP polls show Nelson up by more than 22, Kleeb up by 2; Moul in a dead heat, and - the king of grassroots, the prince of the people, the man at the door - Esch up by around 2.

I have absolutely no idea if President Bush can save 2 races or not, cuz, no one knows, since no President has ever had to come to Nebraska 2 days before an election to bail out the Repubs.

Volunteer, sign a check, get after it. Bush is not coming to NE 3rd because the GOP is winning in Nebraska.

Powers' comment follows on the heels of former Nebraska Democratic Party chair Anne Boyle's column in a recent edition of the Omaha City Weekly that read:
The day after the election, the nation could look at Nebraska and say we have sent a message to Washington unlike anywhere else in the country. Nebraska has never sent [an] all Democrat delegation to the House of Representatives.

As someone who has been kicking around politics nearly all my life, I cannot remember when the Democratic Party has ever had three more capable candidates running for Congress at the same time. Each of the campaigns has a different feel to it. All of them feel like winners....

Three Nebraska Democrats in Congress. It could happen and the eyes of the nation would be upon us.

I completely agree that we have amazing Congressional candidates this year - the best Democratic team I've seen. I've focused a lot of attention on Scott Kleeb of late, but I love Maxine Moul and believe Jim Esch has run the sort of grassroots, people-powered campaign that is going to change a lot of preconceived notions about how to succeed in Nebraska politics.

The respect with which the Omaha World-Herald writes about Moul and Esch, though endorsing their opponents in today's edition, is a testament to just how far the Nebraska Democratic Party has come this year (thanks, in no small part - whether you want to admit it or not - to the influence of Sen. Ben Nelson).

But, I have to call things the way I see them and focus my attention accordingly. If I wrote about Nebraska politics as I wish it was - as it might possibly be if this-or-that rumor is true - this would be an entirely different site (probably a more popular site). Hell, I'd be an entirely different person (probably more popular as well).

As is, I remain deeply skeptical about the polling data Powers references above. I'd be delighted to discover I was wrong on Election Day, but - until then - I've only been won over to the possibility that Scott Kleeb CAN make it to Washington D.C. if we fight like hell to get him there.

Of course, Moul and Esch deserve your support. If we work hard enough - after these candidates have worked as hard and as long as they have - anything is possible. But, for the long-term vitality of the Democratic Party - to protect voters from the subtle disenfranchisement of false hope exploited - I prefer to rise to a single challenge than succumb to a reckless optimism.

Again, I could be way off base. Powers and Boyle have experience that I don't. But, as leaders within the Democratic Party, they also have obligations that I do not and - hence - may be more inclined to putting the absolute best face on what is already a good situation.

Mine is a more measured approach. Still, we share the same dream. I just think it might take a while longer before we get there.

No matter where you are - no matter who you're helping get elected - November 7th is only the beginning. Wins. Losses. We'll cross those roads when we get there, and we'll have some time to put things into perspective. But the most important thing to recognize is not that we stand on the verge of glory but that we are so much stronger than we have been. Here, we have the opportunity to show our fellow Nebraskans how far we've come in so short a time, while giving them a hint of just how far we have yet to go.

Our work is making progress possible. Each day, it's bringing the dream of a new Nebraska just a little closer to reality. With that goal, you don't need poll numbers to remind you how important this election is. And, you don't need me to tell you so either.


Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

I should explain my skepticism a little further about the mystery poll mentioned in the above post. It's more than just a matter of conventional wisdom.

Subjectively, in talking to fellow Nebrakans, I have not seen the extreme shift in attitudes that these numbers would belie.

Objectively, I question the reliability - even the existence - of the poll for two reasons:

(1) Because it is not reflected at all in the race for Governor - where the Democratic Party has put up a candidate of equal vitality in David Hahn who has nonetheless failed to gain much traction against sitting-governor Heineman. Of course, the state house offers some insulation from trends in federal races, but anything so pronounced as the supposed numbers above would have DEFINITELY had some impact on the Hahn/Heineman race. Regrettably, I have seen no such movement.

(2) Represenatives Lee Terry and Jeff Fortenberry have the resources, courtesy of special-interest PAC donations, to have kept a pretty close eye on their districts while things have turned sour for Republicans nationally. Although Terry's recent cheap attack on Esch demonstrates that his campaign might recognize Esch as a threat and realize it underestimated him, Terry hasn't gone to the extreme lengths that numbers showing him down by 2 points would have elicited. As for Fortenberry, he's done little but defend his record, showing no real indication of alarm.

Hence, I have a hard time considering this rumored poll anything more than that.

Blogger Daily Bulldog said...


If you had anything good to say, this blog wouldn't exist.

What is this cheap attack I heard of with Terry Lee? I received an immigration mail postcard deal from Terry Lee and am wondering if this is it?

Bennie and PR smash each other every night and have been for it just that people feel sorry for Esch, who most people think is running for MUD Board?

Anonymous amused said...

Oh, Bulldog, anyone who has ever seen a post by you knows you do not like Esch. But seriously, do you have a job? Maybe, just MAYBE you should tend to that job. (Just a suggestion) Hahaha. In short, do yourself a favor and get a life instead of crying in blogs aaaaaallll the time. :)

Blogger Dave said...

I am far more prone to "reckless optimism." As an idealist, it's in my blood. But I do remain skeptical of an unsourced poll, much as I want to believe that it's true.

I will point out, though, that the reason the results may not be reflected in the race for governor do have explanations. First, of course, the governor's race isn't impacted as much by the federal climate. Second, Heineman's status as a "giant-killer" for beating Osborne put him in a commanding position. Third, Hahn's campaign has been virtually nonexistent in the state's population center, where the biggest enclave of Democratic voters reside. The fact that Hahn is bleeding support from Democratic voters, and has little to no name recognition in the polls I've seen, is the main reason he is behind in the polls. People don't realize he's running.

Your second point is on the money, though. Aside from the complete distortion of Jim Esch's position on immigration by the Terry campaign, things haven't gotten ugly yet.

But right now, the polls, the pundits, the President... They don't mean anything to us. What matters is the next five days. Making phone calls, knocking on doors, getting out the vote so that we can make the dream a reality.

Anonymous James Matheny said...

I am a third district democrat and I have been checking this website for a couple of weeks. I don’t think that Smith is the greatest candidate, but at least he is a Nebraskan. I will hold my nose while I vote for him on Tuesday. I was given a side by side comparison of Kleeb and Smith and I don’t know why anybody would vote for someone who has failed to vote in 11 of 12 Nebraska elections since he turned voting age in 1994 (that is a voting attendance record of only 8%). Just take a look at these facts and then tell me who is the Nebraskan and who isn’t.

•Scott Kleeb was born in Turkey in 1975. Adrian Smith was born in Scottsbluff, NE in 1970.

•Scott Kleeb grew up in Eurpoe. Adrian Smith grew up in Gering, NE.

•Scott Kleeb chose to go to college at Colorado and Yale instead of one of the fine institutions in Nebraska. Adrian Smith received his bachelor’s from the University of Nebraska.

•Scott Kleeb didn’t even have a Nebraska Drivers License until 2005. Adrian Smith has had his since 1985.

•Scott Kleeb has never filed a Nebraska tax return. Adrian Smith has been filing Nebraska tax returns since 1986.

•Scott Kleeb never voted in Nebraska until he decided to run for congress this year. Adrian Smith has voted in every Nebraska election since 1988.

You tell me who the real Nebraskan is.


Anonymous To James said...

To James:

James - why do you insist on labeling Kleeb a carpetbagger and turn a blind eye to the fact the Nebraska already has two carpetbaggers servng in Congress: Hagel and Fortenberry.

Hage llives in McClean. He moved to NE just before running for Senate. Sure he was born in NE but did you know he forst cosnidered running for Governor in VA? how can you qualify as a resident of both states to run? Fortenberry is from Louisiana or somewhere else.
Pete Ricketts went to college in Chicago.

Obviously, none of these things matter. What matters to voters is who will do the best job. In this case Scott Kleeb is head and shoulders above Smith. There is no question, other than partisanship, that would convince voters otherwise.

Anonymous Ryan Anderson said...


Pedigrees don't make a leader. Birth certificates -whether printed on an Air Force Base in Turkey or a hospital in Scottsbluff- aren't going to get our country back on track, aren't going to get our leaders out of the mud pit and back to the drawing board, and they certaintly aren't going to get our rural communities the attention they deserve.

Smith is just another politician climbing the ladder. He had a chance to be a voice for rural Nebraska in the legislature, but he let that oppurtunity slip by while other Senators decided the terms of debate, while other Senators negotiated the crucial compromises, and ultimately while others decided the priorities and the direction of our state government. That's not the kind of leadership we deserve in Washington. Rural America is having it's life drained out of it and someone has got to get the rest of the nation to stop and take notice.

Adrian Smith has already proven he won't do that. And Scott Kleeb -by virtue of the national and even international attention his campaign has already recieved- has already proven he can. Doesn't rural Nebraska deserve at least two years of that kind of leadership to see if Kleeb passes the test? It's not like there's a lack of uninspiring Republican officeholders with roots planted in this district. I'm sure we'll have another chance to send an Adrian Smith to Washington. But I'm afraid it will be generations before we again see a leader of Scott Kleeb's caliber.

Anonymous Ryan Anderson said...

"Nebraska has never sent [an] all Democrat delegation to the House of Representatives."

Anne's actually wrong about that one. In the 73rd Congress (1933-1935, hence the one that coincided with the election of FDR) Nebraska sent five Democrats to Capitol Hill: John Morehead (former governor), Edgar Howard (former lieutenant governor), Edward Burke (future Senator), Ashton Shallenberger (former Governor), and Terry Carpenter (state Senator). No offense to Moul, Esch and Kleeb, but man was '32 an impressive delegation!

Anonymous Jeff said...

James, Smith's modus operandi is playing Nebraskans for dumb. Do you fit that category?

I am Adrian Smith and I demand your vote because:

•I was a State Senator for eight years.
---Never mind that I barely did a damn thing, even behind the scenes.

•I cut taxes.
---Never mind that I actually never cut taxes.

•I’m the real fourth generation Nebraskan in the race.
---Never mind that it’s all due to my parents raising me here;
---Never mind that I criticize my opponent for being a quasi-Nebraskan because his parents made him move elsewhere for a few years.

•I support agriculture!
---Never mind that I accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from a group that would prefer Nebraska agriculture didn’t exist.

•I graduated from the University of Nebraska.
---Never mind that I attended the ultra right wing Liberty College in Virginia for three years.
---And never mind that I attacked my opponent for going out of state for school when I did the same, and we both came back to Nebraska.

•I am a hardcore Republican.
---Never mind that I possess no objective thinking.
---Never mind that I will do what is right for Republicans before what is right for Nebraskans.

•I am a small business owner.
---Never mind my “small business” is just a few rental storage units that I receive a check in the mail for every month.
---Never mind that real small business owners should be offended by my posing as one to exploit their hard work.

Smith’s ascertain that the third district would vote for him because they have been brainwashed to vote Republican is being tested by Scott Kleeb. It will be an almost perfect test, a very weak Republican verses a strong moderate Democrat. Will the brainwashing continue? Don’t be duped by the letter by the name.

Anonymous Jon Rehm said...

Hope and God forbid, even faith, are part of campaigns. Expectations are self-fullfilling. I got an e-mail from Vince over the NATA listserv about the poll results. At first I said, yeah right about Esch and Moul. But the Nelson numbers are backed by Rasmussen and the Kleeb numbers are supported too.

Vince also mentioned 423 was running well-ahead. I believed that too. That's the problem with Nebraska progressives, we will believe the worst but won't believe the rest. After some reflection I thought, maybe Vince is on to something. Maybe there really is a surge.

I say activists solve the dilemna of whether to campaign for/donate to Esch/Moul or Kleeb like this: if you're in Lincoln or Omaha volunteer for your local candidate on weekdays and roadtrip out west on the weekends. Solve the problem of scare time and resources by giving more resources than you wanted. Skip the gym, skip the Husker game on Saturday. Just put everything off that you don't absolutely have to do until the polls close.

Not the most coherent post, but the hell with it. I'm going downtown to work for Maxine.

Blogger tomjoad63 said...

If Kleeb isn't from Nebraska, then where is he from? By Smiths definition Kleeb may not even be an American. As for Smiths claim to be "a small business man who has paid alot of taxes". A state Senator makes $12,000, a storage unit rents for what $35 - $40 bucks, he hasn't had time to vote in the unicam. so I doubt he has moved much real estate, do you think Adrian has benifited from President Bush's tax cuts?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Scottsbluff. I gave up voting in this "just a bit off center" community along time ago. BUT, I am canceling my business trip to stay home and vote - for Kleeb. I have known Adrian Smith for years. He is light, meek, mild and is a puppet for his family and other interest groups. Sad story that we in this community buried our heads in the sand and let him get from a snot nose kid to city council to state legislature. Washington? Hm.....we should be ashamed to have him on any ballot. He is very underqualified.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous...If you can make it to your county election commissioner's office today (or Monday), you can vote early and may not need to cancel your business trip.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm... Moul's internal's got her within the margin of error... and Fortenberry's only at 43%. Still doesn't mean those numbers Powers quoted are accurate, but it's verification that the race is closer than it appeared.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If i were a republican i would absolutely vote for Kleeb or Moul. maybe that would send a message that the GOP can't put up empty suits and expect voters to mindlessly support them because of an R next to their names. they might actually have to field better candidates.


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