Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A War of Rhetoric: 'New York Democrats' vs. 'Washington Republicans'

by Kyle Michaelis
In 2006, the Nebraska Republican Party grasped desperately to the idea that 3rd District Congressional candidate Scott Kleeb was not a true Nebraskan - focusing on the years Kleeb had spent at Yale University and his successful out-of-state fundraising because their candidate - Adrian Smith - couldn't compete on the issues, by reputation, or with personality.

Now, looking to the 2008 Senate race, we already see the same sort of attacks revving up against potential Democratic candidate Bob Kerrey for living in New York City the last six years while serving as President of New School University.
What's funny is just how much hypocrisy it will require of Nebraska Republicans to attack Kerrey on this basis. For starters, Kerrey would be running to replace Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel - who was first elected in 1996 after spending two decades living in Virginia and Washington D.C.

Even more ridiculous, though, is the fact that two of the best-positioned Republicans hoping to replace Hagel have also recently declared Washington D.C. home. As most readers know and as cartoonist Neal Obermeyer has pointed out, Mike Johanns has been living in Washington D.C. since becoming Secretary of Agriculture for the Bush Administration in January 2005. In fact, Johanns is even reported to have gone house-hunting last weekend to reclaim his Nebraska residency.

Less well-known and less remembered is just how recently Hal Daub also called Washington D.C. home. The Omaha World-Herald (11/27/05) reported:
In July 2004, [Hal] Daub took a full-time job in Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Mary, sold their Omaha house and purchased one in the Georgetown area....

Daub never really put Omaha behind him during his 14 months leading the Washington-based American Health Care Association. Originally, Daub expected to spend three to five years with the national nursing home organization.
Of course, Daub didn't have a whole lot of say on his early return to Nebraska because he'd managed to alienate the AHCA leadership to the point that they couldn't wait to get rid of him. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone who remembers Daub's relationship with city officials when he served as mayor of Omaha.
Regardless, both Daub and Johanns have proven quite willing to adopt homes outside of Nebraska when it served their career ambitions. It's not my place to say whether these choices make them any less Nebraskan, but they make it downright absurd and hypocritical for the Republican Party to attack Kerrey on similar grounds.

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