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Sen. Barack Obama to Headline 2006 Morrison-Exon Dinner

The NDP is pleased to announce that Illinois Senator Barack Obama will headline this year's Morrison-Exon Dinner!

The ME Dinner will be held on Saturday, May 6th, at the Hilton Omaha. Details on ticket pricing, times, etc. be announced as soon as possible.

Seating will be limited so be sure to check back here or at our events center to make your reservations as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Jocelyn

We look forward to sharing an historic night for Nebraska Democrats with you on May 6th.

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Open Thread

The government should be fearful of its people, not the other way around…

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Local Election Updates: Republicans v. Republicans

From the New Nebraska Network:

The over-abundance of Republican candidates this year (at least, relative to the Nebraska Democratic Party's disappointing recruitment performance) has just turned ugly in a local race in North Platte. One has a feeling that this isn't the last of the ugliness we'll see in these or the higher-tier, statewide races as the Republican primary draws ever-closer.

The North Platte Bulletin reports (w/some fascinating reader feedback):

Deputy Lincoln County Treasurer Sue Fleck filed as a candidate Tuesday for the job held by County Treasurer Connie Chrisman. Fleck was fired a few hours later.

Both women are Republicans.

Chrisman cried while saying it was difficult to fire Fleck. "It was awful," a tearful Chrisman said. "We'd worked together for years. It was tough."

"A deputy is supposed to be a right-hand person," Chrisman said. "I needed to make a decision on behalf of myself and my office."

Chrisman said she felt she lost that "loyalty factor" after Fleck filed against her.

"I didn't know if she'd still be working for the benefit of my office," Chrisman said. "We're either a team or not a team. She made a decision not to be a team player."

Fleck said she wasn't surprised by the firing….

Firings in Nebraska when an employee of an office files against a challenger have happened many times. In 2002, then Buffalo County Attorney Andy McMullen fired deputy county attorney Sean Eatherton after Eatherton filed to run against him.

Several months later, McMullen fired another deputy in the office, Melodie Bellamy, after he learned she campaigned for Eatherton. "The statute says she serves at my pleasure, and it wasn't my pleasure anymore," McMullen said at the time. "I couldn't trust her."

Eatherton went on to win 90 percent of the vote against McMullen in the primary election and ran unopposed in the general election that year. He rehired Bellamy after he took office in January.

Deputy County Treasurer Sue Fleck, who worked for Lincoln County Treasurer Connie Chrisman, said she was "let go" at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Earlier that day, she filed papers to run for Chrisman's position.

Chrisman, who took office in 1990, has filed for re-election. She would not comment on the reason for the firing, but she said it was coincidence that Fleck was fired the same day she filed for Chrisman's job.

It's worth noting that a similar situation had the potential of playing out in the city of Lincoln this year, though that inter-Party, inter-office crisis was averted when the incumbent Lancaster County Clerk decided not to seek re-election after his job performance came under fire. The Lincoln Journal-Star reports:

Owen, a Republican who has been chief deputy county clerk since 2001, says she would eliminate the position as part of an overall management restructuring.

Owen filed for the office Friday, the same day her boss, Bruce Medcalf, withdrew his bid for re-election.

Medcalf, also a Republican, quit the race less than a week after a Journal Star story chronicled questions about his attendance at work and assertions by some county officials that Owen was essentially running the office. Medcalf endorsed Owen's candidacy.

In an interview Monday, Owen did not directly address the concerns about Medcalf, but she said that in her five years in the office it became apparent to her that there were redundancies, and the clerk and deputy clerk jobs "could be consolidated into a one-person position."

Got to think Chrisman in North Platte is wishing she'd thought of the same thing years ago. Added bureaucracy, even though it usually means less actual work for the boss, just isn't worth it when those below you threaten your employment.

To be honest, for all the Republican shenanigans that are undoubtedly taking place behind the scenes, I must admit to some degree of envy. Only a political party with that tight a grip on public offices and the voters' imagination could get away with such political misadventures. Perhaps one day, Nebraska Democrats, too, will be in a position to abuse their offices. A kid can dream; can't he?

So, the madness and intrigue continue. It's election time in Nebraska. Stay tuned.

(And, for a little taste of more of the same, read about a similar situation of R v. R-boss v. subordinate-action in the race for Douglas County Sheriff. Check it out: 1. 2. 3. Here we're talking "disgruntled employees" and gag rules. FUN!)

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Looking Forward

The Nebraska Republican Party has been having a hard time getting its candidates to debate one another. Don Stenberg continues to be a bully and a coward(exhibit a, exhibit b) by refusing to debate the other Republican senate candidates, in the belief that such debates will hurt the best (if not, only) hope he has for victory: his advantage in name recognition after two failed earlier campaigns for the same office.

On the gubernatorial front, however, there has finally been some movement. A debate schedule has been released after Gov. Dave Heineman held-up the process, forcing the other candidates -- Tom Osborne and Dave Nabity -- to gang-up and pressure Heineman into making a commitment. It worked.

The Omaha World-Herald reports:

How many debates to hold was an issue among the GOP hopefuls, and it underscored the competitiveness of the three-way race among Rep. Tom Osborne, Gov. Dave Heineman and Omaha financial planner Dave Nabity.

Nabity initially called for eight debates before the May 9 primary. Osborne wanted three, saying he thought that was enough to handle the issues. Earlier this month, Heineman proposed six debates.

Heineman…argued that there was a need for more debates this year to give more Nebraskans a chance to see the three candidates and to give the candidates more time to discuss key issues.

After Heineman called for six debates, Osborne issued a press release that he would debate Heineman "anytime, anywhere".....

Nabity said he was pleased with six debates but wished that the campaigns had started discussions earlier so that there could have been two more. "The unfortunate thing is it's taken this long to get this thing settled," he said.

About two weeks ago, Nabity and Osborne complained that Heineman was dragging his feet on debates.

• Omaha: March 19
• Lincoln: March 26
• North Platte: April 12
• Norfolk: April 19
• Scottsbluff-Gering: April 24
• Grand Island: April 30

Six debates in the primary. Sounds like a good number. With all the candidates' talk about giving Nebraskans an opportunity to hear about the issues from their own mouths, it seems supremely reasonable to expect that they will make sure voters have at least the same number of opportunities to see and hear them debate with Democratic nominee David Hahn before the general election.

Best keep a record of all those statements on file, though, because both Heineman and Osborne are likely to consider themselves crowned governor if they make it out of the primary. Just watch as they abandon the principles espoused above -- "more debates…more discussion" Heineman and "anytime, anywhere" Osborne will almost certainly try singing a different tune in the fall -- - -- we can't let them!

David Hahn is going to surprise people. He's a smart, capable, and incredibly thoughtful candidate who is going to make for a real choice between the Republican status quo (no matter its champion) and an actual agent of change with a vision for the future of this state.

Nothing more dangerous than a man with ideas -- at least from where Osborne and Heineman are standing. Let's just hope they are able to put aside their fears and do what's right for Nebraska by allowing a true statewide debate to take place in the general election. The people of Nebraska deserve and demand no less.

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Bush Lied - Check Out This Video of Katrina Briefing

I can't wait to see what Limbaugh and Hannity have to say about THIS

What does it take to impeach this guy? Oh, yeah…

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David Hahn on Rural Nebraska

Hear Democratic candidate David Hahn's thoughts on rural issues affecting Nebraska. The Center for Rural Affairs Gubernatorial Candidate Forum will be broadcast this evening on Nebraska Public Radio, FM 91.1, from 6:30 -- 8:30 pm.

Find out more about David at his website, www.HahnForNebraska.org.

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Open Thread

The Rapture is not an exit strategy…

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The Hawk's Still Flying

In case you missed the article in today's World Herald:

_"...The committee's senior Democrat, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, accused the Bush administration of disregarding the Exon-Florio law by not conducting more than a standard review of the proposed sale. Levin noted that the company is from a country with possible links to terrorists."_

Senator Nelson also weighed in on the issue:

_"The sale of port operations is a national security matter in the post-9/11 United States, and the American people need to know that we aren't outsourcing their safety," Nelson said._

Former Exon Aide Chris McLean said it best: "I always think of Senator Exon as a national security hawk."

"The hawk's still flying."

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The Futures Market: Nebraska

Check out the National Journal's list of rising stars in Nebraska politics -- Democrats and Republicans. What do you think? Anyone who isn't on the list that should be, or on the list that shouldn't be?

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GOP "People Power"

So, the Republican Party's idea of "people power" is at last revealed -- if their candidates have enough people on the payroll, they need hardly even recognize their growing disconnect with Nebraska voters and Nebraska values (the sort you live by, not sell yourself with). This philosophy was on full display Monday night at a Republican candidate forum in Seward where there were as many office-seekers and political operatives in attendance as actual voters.

The Omaha World-Herald reports:

The political candidates and their staffs nearly outnumbered potential voters Monday at a Republican forum that attracted hopefuls for governor and the Senate.

About 25 voters were wooed by about 13 candidates, most of whom arrived with a staff member or a spouse and came early to work the crowd at the Seward Civic Center.

The candidates chatted up as many voters as they could find, while their assistants handed out stickers and pamphlets…..

Monday's forum included those vying for legislative and other state government posts….

Former Attorney General Don Stenberg, Omaha attorney David Kramer and Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts are running for the GOP [U.S. Senate] nomination. The victor will run against Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson in the fall.

Stenberg told the crowd that "radical environmentalists" had for too long dictated America's energy policy. He vowed that he would support drilling in the Arctic and the building of more ethanol plants.

Ricketts emphasized his support for President Bush and the war in Iraq. "We must win the global war on terror, and that means completing our mission in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.

Kramer said he would try to visit all 93 counties each year if elected. "I don't think you can live in Washington, D.C., and represent Nebraska," he said.

Still, on that issue of quantity, it's worth pondering where the voters of Seward were during the GOP's attempted but failed invasion of their town. "American Idol" wasn't on, so there goes that excuse.

Of course, it's still early in the election cycle, but the weak response this event generated seems to raise some legitimate concerns that, minus the opportunity to shake Tom Osborne's hand, the Nebraska Republican Party isn't offering voters much in the way of excitement or ideas. And, let's face it, meeting Osborne the politician is substantially less inspiring than meeting the Coach of old.

These elements are not aided by the realization quickly dawning upon voters that the Republican Party has simply turned its back on rural communities such as Seward. To devastating plant closings in Northeast Nebraska, Republican politicians offer no solutions but more tax incentives for big business, the sort of which had already failed to protect some 1,500 hard-working Nebraska families. Meanwhile, the quality and accessibilty of rural health care is left to dwindle as what was supposedly a prescription drug benefit for senior citizens is more accurately revealed as government subsidization of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.

It's not a record to be proud of -- "No Child Left Untested" burdening our schools, candidates violating election laws in crude and calculating fashion, the specter of corporate farming taking hold with hardly a peep from those elected officials who've sworn to uphold the constitution prohibiting it. No, even as a Republican, I'd be a tad too disgusted at these mounting failures to answer even the most cordial GOP invite.

All this amounts to a definite opportunity for our proud Democratic candidates as they take their respective messages of hope and reform door-to-door, coffee-to-barbershop all over the state.

And my advice for those Republicans running with no one else to blame for an agenda that long-ago ceased serving the best interests of Nebraska -- invest in more yes-men and campaign staffers. Voters may not be as susceptible to the old stand-by attacks as they have been in years prior. They are not buying the same old Republican promises that have been so quickly forgotten with each new election over the last decade. But, that's no reason to be talking to an empty room. After all, we all get by with a little help from our friends -- even if they are bought, paid for, and tell you only what you want to hear in the FOX News manner to which Republicans have become so accustomed and dependent.

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