Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Omaha's Messenger

by Ryan Anderson
Among Nebraska bloggers, I've been the most skeptical of a Mike Fahey Senate candidacy (in that I think he'd be a "formidable candidate... but not my first choice". Not terribly harsh criticism, but let's face it, there's not a whole lot of ill-will between Fahey and the blogosphere). I still think it's pretty hard to sell yourself to rural voters when your first name's "Democrat" and your last name's "Mayor of Omaha", but I gotta admit I'm impressed by these numbers: 54% favorability? Not too shabby. And not too bad.

Considering the man's never run for statewide office, that shows a pretty impressive name recognition. It also highlights Fahey's potential appeal to voters who don't necessarily have a "favorable" impression of Omaha itself.

Which is where I start to wonder... The rural-urban split is a crippling handicap, not just to Omaha candidates but to the health of state politics as a whole. More than that, it's a two way street. It isn't just that Omaha doesn't understand or respect the needs of those who live outstate, it's also that the rest of Nebraska doesn't really understand Omaha. And what better ambassador could we ask for than Mayor Fahey?

The Fahey administration has committed itself to fiscally responsible growth, and in this area they have been remarkably successful. Buildings have been raised, standards of living have been raised, but taxes haven't. Their bold advocacy of a city-county merger is a model of effective government that could cut red tape and save the state money. Apparently, all this hasn't gone unnoticed (or unappreciated) out west.

Now comes that highest hurdle: convincing rural voters that this experience is the least bit relevant to the issues confronting them on the national stage. And on this question the Mayor's political instincts have served him particularly well:
The Senate could use more mayors with first-hand experience managing a local budget under the strain of unfunded federal mandates, Fahey said.

Senators "have no concept of controlling spending," Fahey said. "Of course, it's easier to spend when you can just print more money."
Fahey does well to remind voters that, whatever Omaha's dominance in state politics, we're still just a "little-big city" fighting the good fight against those real powers that be. The same fights against the same powers as the rest of Nebraska.

Translation: we're all in this together, bud. Might as well act like it.

Now, I'm still not the first in line for the Fahey Express. But believe me, if it ever leaves the station, I'll be right there on board.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, but what kind of liability is his thirty-something live in girlfriend?

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

The following are the comments responding to an earlier version of this post, in which there was some confusing language.

Kyle Michaelis said.....

No offense to Ryan, but I have no clue what he's talking about with this particular statement in the otherwise excellent post below. While I have great respect for my NNN compatriot's opinion, the suggestion that there is some resentment of Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey in the online community simply doesn't jive with reality.

Say what one will for Fahey's prospects for higher office, but this seemed a statement so far out of leftfield that I personally felt the need to dissociate myself from it. If Ryan would care to explain what he meant, it would certainly be appreciated...because, as one of Nebraska's more prominent bloggers, I think Fahey has been a great Mayor and would make an absolutely fantastic Senator.

Dave Sund said...

As probably the most vocal proponent of Fahey in the admittedly small Nebraska blogosphere, (which at last count would include the NNN, UNO, Paging Power, and Smith Watch, the latter two of which have said not one word about Fahey), I too am wondering just what Ryan meant there.

But I think the overall point was right on. We all heard this same argument from Fahey in March - as mayor he is doing what's in the best interests of this city. You can bet your ass that if he's our Senator, he's going to do what's in the best interests of our state.

Ryan Anderson said...

I apologize that apparently I've used this phrase incorrectly. Actually, I'm quite embarrassed, especially as my mistake is now enshrined in a post all its own. By "not a whole lot of love lost" I *thought* I was saying that the blogosphere is pretty much gung-ho for Fahey, and by comparison I'm almost a critic simply for saying "he's not my first choice".

I humbly apologize, as apparently this usage died out in the 19th century. Wow, aren't I a bit behind the times?

Sorry, guys. Sometimes I just don't deserve the English language.

Dave Sund said...

No worries, man. The best of us mangle the English language every once in a while.

Ryan Anderson said...

Thanks, man. I just couldn't come up with an appropriate emoticon to punctuate that sentence. Maybe winking/frowning? ;(


No need to hold our good friend Ryan over the coals for this. Everyone agrees that Mayor Fahey would make an excellent Senator Fahey.....and all is right with the world.


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