Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hal Daub Running Against Hal Daub

by Ryan Anderson
Pretty surprising for a former Congressman and mayor of the state's largest city, but the biggest question Hal Daub faced in his sorta/kinda announcement for the Senate today was that of relevance: in a race filled (or, potentially filled) with giants and rising stars like Chuck Hagel, Mike Johanns and Jon Bruning, does Hal Daub even matter any more?

To Daub's credit, the answer he provided was "yes... probably." A rather small victory, really, but a victory nonetheless.

It is really difficult to overestimate the problems plaguing Daub's Senate candidacy: he's already run, and lost, twice. He lost the last election he ever participated in... an election localized entirely in what should be his political base of support. He's well-known but not well-liked.

And these are not wounds that heal merely with the passage of time. You might recall Bruning's poll late last month that found Daub with an underwhelming 39-18 favorable/unfavorable rating despite 83% total name recognition. No wonder Bruning has a commanding 55-16 lead over Daub in a head-to-head matchup (including a 57-25% lead in District 2, which Bruning's pollster helpfully reminds us "should be Daub's n
atural base of support". Ouch.)

So what's Daub's strategy? Hunker down, grab a fistful of mud and start slinging, just like the good 'ole days?

Nope... apparently not. Looks like Daub's playing it cool this time, and taking the opportunity to label Jon Bruning the real "Hal Daub" of this race.

Think about it. He's refusing to attack Bruning or Hagel or any other candidate, pledging himself to be "respectful" in his treatment of the incumbent Senator (which is a lot more than you can say for Jon Bruning). He's even refusing to
focus on his own policy preferences and proposals, stressing instead that he's dedicated to listening to what the people of all 93 counties think of the issues facing them.

This is not exactly the "my way or the highway" approach that resulted in such a contentious relationship between his administration and the city council. This is not exactly the same Hal Daub we know. Not in style, not in tone. Daub's got himself a new coat of paint, but there's doubtless still the same dirt-kicking, mud-slinging "bad boy of the GOP" under there, ticking away and just waiting to explode.

How long can it possibly last? Hmmm... let's give it another couple of months, or maybe until Hagel's final announcement. Then maybe we'll
be treated to that most rare and spectacular of events: the contest to see which Republican can outslime and "out-Daub" the other.

The prophetic vision of Neal Obermeyer? As published in the Lincoln Journal Star.

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