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From the Road: Washington, D.C.

Blogging from DC, where I've been meeting with national Democratic leaders and organizations in preparation for what promises to be an exciting 2006 election cycle.

The DNC remains committed to its state party partnership program, and were thrilled to see how extensive and far reaching our "93 County Strategy" has developed. In fact, after some cajoling, i'm happy to report that the NDP will be hosting some DNC officials at our State Central Committee meeting in Scottsbluff. The DNC's National Training Director and their Regional Political Director (my former colleague who orchestrated a wholesale Democratic takeover in Montana in 2004) will attend our meetings and events in late September, in additon to conducting the training at our NDP Grassroots Academy from 1:30 -- 5. Stay tuned for more information about the training and the Gathering on the Great Plains event that evening.

I also met with the Devorah Adler, the DNC's Research Director (and my former Research Director in 2002) who agreed to come to Nebraska late in the year to extensively brief all of our candidates, party officials and activists on the issues that will dominate the 2006 elections.

I've also had meetings with the Democratic Governors' Association, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in order to lay the groundwork -- early -- for the Victory 2006 Coordinated Campaign.

Literally minutes after I left the DNC yesterday, Governor Dean called an emergency DNC conference call to announce that he was postponing our Fall Meeting scheduled to take place next weekend in Phoenix. Amidst our nation's worst ever natural disaster and the Republicans spending millions on ads encouraging Congress to repeal the "Estate Tax", Governor Dean rightfully thinks it would be inappropriate to hold a political meeting when so many of our brothers and sisters in the Gulf States are in need. I was in Senator Nelson's office yesterday and ran into his Deputy Press Secretary, Jena Longo, who had literally just arrived back in DC after a harrowing three days riding out the storm and the floods in New Orleans, her home town. I cannot begin to describe to you the genuine fear and concern on her face as I spoke to her about her family, and her story of survival in the hotel directly adjacent to the NO Convention Center (now a morgue for thousands).

I'll be back in Nebraska next week after what I think has been a very busy and productive trip. Until then, please don't hesitate to contact me or comment here if I can be of assistance, and say a prayer for our fellow Americans in the Gulf (both Gulfs).

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Democrats at the Fair - UPDATED!

The following post was sent to me by Lee Clausen from the State Fair Booth:

The Nebraska Democratic Party booth at the State Fair has been really active the past couple of days. So many Democrats have come by to have their voices be heard and are looking forward to giving feedback on the Nebraska Democratic Party Memo about the 93-County Plan.

It is great to hear the voices supporting Sen. Nelson's willingness to reach across party lines to get things done. A number of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents have said that they admire the way Sen. Nelson took the lead, in a bold and decisive manner, to avoid partisan squabbling on judicial nominations.

The response has been amazing for local candidates and office holders as well. Yesterday, a U.S. Air Force Lt., said that he admired Sen. Abbie Cornett's work in Bellevue to help military families living off-base to get the support and resources they need from state government.

Everyone is really excited about the candidates, especially our Congressional candidates of Scott Kleeb in C.D. 3 and Jim Esch in C.D. 2. A Buffalo County Dem was glad to see Scott at a recent meeting and to see that he is working hard across Nebraska to build the Nebraska Democratic Party. Jim Esch economic development credentials have really gotten people talking.

Everyone who has stopped by has stressed the importance of and the admiration of the Nebraska Demcoratic Party to work hard for working families by spreading a message of quality jobs, quality health care, and quality retirement savings and social security benefits for our seniors.

As one senior citizen, who was a very friendly elderly lady pointed out, "Make sure the Nebraska Democrats tell Pres. Bush to keep his damn hands off my social security". She didn't want to be rude, but she said that she felt very strongly about that.

The State Fair continues through 6pm on Labor Day, September 5, 2005.

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The Devastation of Katrina

For the last few days, I have been mesmerized by the incredible video coming out of the South. When I see thousands of homes buried by water, it's hard to believe that two days ago families were living in those structures. So far 68 people are dead. I just learned on the news that New Orleans is being completely evacuated because water levels keep rising. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced.

Even though the loss felt by Katrina is so immense, it is still inspiring to see the men and women hard at work rescuing those trapped in their homes. And don't forget the volunteers helping to feed and shelter the families who now have nothing but each other. Check out the latest news updates and if you feel so inclined, here is a link to a list of legitimate organizations taking donations to help support the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The American Red Cross is as usual at the top of the list.

These are the times we must remember that our community is more then just the neighborhood we live in. Our community includes our brothers and sisters in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi who no longer have a neighborhood to return to. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, the emergency personnel, and the volunteers as they continue to battle the remains of the most costly natural disaster in American history.

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Joseph P. "Sonny" Foster, III (1952-2005)

Fellow Democrats --

Yesterday, we received the unfortunate news that our friend, Sonny Foster, passed away. Sonny served as Senator Ben Nelson's Omaha District Director, and as his campaign manager for his two gubernatorial campaigns.

Since arriving in Nebraska, Sonny has been a personal mentor to me. His sage advice on numerous issues, as well as his institutional knowledge was a trememdous resource. Recently, he was instrumental in helping to create what is now the Nebraska Democratic Black Caucus. He truly took me and our entire staff under his wing, and I can't begin to tell you how shocking and saddened we are.

My greatest memory of Sonny will be his positive outlook on life and his infectious smile. He spent his entire life trying to make the world a better place for all of us -- not just Democrats or Republicans -- but all of us. Nebraska has lost a true champion.

UPDATE Sonny's service will be on Monday, August 29, 2005 at 1pm at the Salem Baptist Church, 3131 Lake Street, Omaha, NE. Sonny's cousin, Bishop Lance Foster will officiate.

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Warm Welcoming in Bellevue

Senator Nelson was a hit at the Arrows to Aerospace Parade in Bellevue this weekend.

Barry, Ian, and I were among about 20 volunteers who joined the Senator to walk the parade route. I kept busy running between folks who wanted to get their hands on Senator Nelson stickers. Barry brought his son along, and the little guy loved throwing candy to the crowd.

The warm welcoming from the folks in Bellevue was encouraging to all of us. It was the first parade for Congressional candidate Jim Esch. He had a great time interacting with the crowd and looks forward to the many public appearances he will be making in the future.

Everyone walking with the Senator wore buttons in memory of the Senator's close friend and advisor, Sonny Foster. When the parade was over, Senator Nelson told all the volunteers, "This was for Sonny."

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Weekend Open Thread

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Chris Jerram Elected Douglas County Chair

Last night, Omaha attorney Chris Jerram was elected as the new Chair of the Douglas County Democrats. Chris has been a great friend of the Democratic party locally and on the state level, and we're looking forward to working with him to move the county party forward.

Make sure to check out our Event Center for information regarding the Douglas County Party's "Fall Frolic" on September 29th, featuring the Nebraska Wine Festival. Congratulations, Chris!

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From the Road: Kearney

Carmyn and I stopped by the Buffalo County Democrats meeting in Kearney last night to get feedback from them on the 93 County Strategy.


Third Congressional District candidate Scott Kleeb (upper left) visiting with Buffalo County Democrats at their monthly meeting last night. About forty people attended the meeting.


Jeanne Butler, the County Chair, has been working hard to revitalize the county party with the help of dedicated Democrats in the Kearney area. The Buffalo County Democrats meet monthly now, and about forty people showed up for last night's meeting.

Scott Kleeb, the recently-declared candidate for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District, spoke about his campaign and why he's running for office. If you haven't heard about Scott, click here.

The Buffalo County Democrats are on the move. They've got alot of work to do: recruit candidates for Kearney's two City Council seats up in 2006, build up a network to help Democratic candidates win up and down the ballot, and keep the county party growing. Thanks to their hard work, though, the Buffalo County Democrats are well on the way towards building a strong Democratic community in Buffalo County.

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Democrats at the Fair!

The Nebraska Democratic Party is hosting a booth at the State Fair again this year. It runs from August 27th-September 5th at the Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln. The booth will be open each day from 10am-9pm and 10am-6pm on Labor Day.

The NDP is proud to have party leaders and candidates taking time out of their schedules to visit with the public at the booth.

Steve Achelpohl, State Chair, will be at the booth on August 28th from 10am-12pm.

Danielle Nantkes, Candidate for LD 46, will be at the booth on August 30th from 6-9pm.

Bill Avery, Candidate for LD 28, will be at the booth on September 3rd from 12-3pm.

Scott Kleeb, Candidate for 3rd CD, will be at the booth on September 3rd from 1-3pm.

Vince Powers, National Committeeman, will be at the booth on September 3rd from 2-4pm.

Rick Poore, Candidate for LD 28, will be at the booth on September 4th from 2-5pm.

Mark Munger, Candidate for LD 28, will be at the booth on September 5th from 4-6pm.

Also at the booth will be a free drawing for flags flown over the U.S. Capital Building by Senator Ben Nelson and his staff.

We will have volunteers from neighboring counties helping us at the booth during the rest of the week. We could not have put this together without their help. Please stop by to visit them!

We'll see you at the fair!

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College Democrats Kick Off the New School Year

The turnout for the first meeting of the UNL Young Democrats was fantastic. About 60 college students packed the room until there was standing room only. After introductions, it was obvious that the UNL Young Democrats are a very diverse group with members from all over the state and the surrounding region.

Carmyn and I spoke for a bit about our internship program, voter registration, and our booth at the State Fair. Then Scott Kleeb, our newly announced candidate for Congress in the 3rd District, spoke to the students about getting actively involved in the Party. Danielle Nantkes also talked about her race for a senate seat in the Unicameral. Danielle is running for LD 46, which is the district that includes the UNL campuses.

So far it looks like the UNL Young Dems are off to a great start. They plan on having formal meetings once a month and having fun meet-ups the rest of the time. One idea tossed out is to have a "Daily Show" night where they will watch "Indecision 2004" as a group. What a great way to be entertained and get to know each other while watching a show that sparks discussion about real issues facing our country.

The UNO College Democrats had their first meeting this week as well. Just like in Lincoln, they had a turnout of around 60 people. Their President, Ryan Renner, stopped by the UNL meeting to let us know how enthusiastic everyone in Omaha is about building up the Democratic Party in Nebraska. The UNO College Dems meet every Monday at 8 p.m. in Milo Bail Student Center. They also have a great blog you should check out.

We wish the all the Young Democrats the best of luck as they start their school year, and we hope to be seeing a lot of them throughout the year!

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