Entries in Nebraska (9)


Nebraska Governor Takes a Pass on Senate Bid

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska said Saturday he would not be a candidate for the Senate seat in his state that will become vacant next year because Sen. Mike Johanns is not running for a second term.

“After careful consideration of all of the issues involved in a race for the United States Senate, I have decided to keep my focus on being the best governor that I can for the citizens of Nebraska,” Heineman said in a letter to his supporters. “Every day, I enjoy the challenges and opportunities of being the governor of the best state in America.”

Heineman, a popular Republican governor who could have almost certainly waltzed to victory in 2014, is the latest in a string of prominent elected officials who are taking a pass on running for the Senate. Several veteran incumbent senators have also announced their retirements, with some saying they are frustrated by the dysfunction in Washington.

Senate Republican leaders in Washington have spent months trying to persuade Heineman to run. While there is little danger that the seat could slip into Democratic hands in the deeply-conservative state, there is no room for error in the GOP’s quest to win control of the Senate next year.

Even the prospect of serving as a senator in the Republican majority, should the party pick up six seats and assume control from Democrats, was not attractive enough to Heineman, aides said. He is among a long list of governors who have taken a pass on joining Congress after being a chief executive of a state.

Johanns, a former governor and agriculture secretary in the administration of President George W. Bush, announced in February that he would not run for a second term next year. The decision from Heineman opens the door to a wide-open race in Nebraska, where there is also a competitive governor’s race next year.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Ron Paul’s Delegate Insurgency Ends in Nebraska

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Ron Paul’s delegate insurgency has come to an end.

Supporters of the libertarian GOP presidential candidate fell short at the Nebraska GOP convention, where they had hoped to out-organize Mitt Romney’s delegates and push Paul over a critical threshold that would have ensured him an official presence and speaking slot at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August.

As the last state where Republicans will hold a convention in which delegates are up for grabs, Nebraska represented the last chance for Paul’s supporters.

Instead, Nebraska Republicans elected a slate of Mitt Romney delegates to represent the state in Tampa. Paul’s supporters won only two of Nebraska’s 35 national delegates, according to Laura Ebke, who leads the Nebraska chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus and who has led Paul supporters’ effort to win delegates in the state.

Along with delegates from Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, and Minnesota, Nebraska could have given Paul the support of a plurality of delegates in five states; according to Republican National Committee rules, Paul would have been officially eligible as a candidate for the nomination at the Tampa convention. Organizers would have been required to grant Paul’s faction up to 15 minutes for a nominating speech.

To some extent, the outcome had already been determined: The voting attendees of Nebraska’s state convention were selected in a two-party county-convention process that included registration on March 1 and voting events June 1-10.

Now, Paul is guaranteed nothing in Tampa, and will depend on the graces of Romney and convention organizers to include him in the proceedings in late August. In 2008, Paul was shut out of the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis and held his own event across town, as Republicans rallied around their new presidential nominee, John McCain.

Paul’s campaign has said it expects to bring as many as 500 supportive delegates to Tampa, so Paul’s presence there could be noticeable nonetheless. Paul is planning a rally in Tampa around the convention, and his supporters have organized the Ron Paul Festival, an independent event that will include live music.

The Nebraska convention marks the end of Paul’s insurgent, delegate-driven campaign, which saw his supporters out-organize mainstream Republicans and longtime local party participants at caucuses and conventions in a few states, sometimes leading to heated exchanges and physical confrontations with security or police.

Throughout the primary and caucus season, Paul supporters used technical knowledge of GOP procedures, posing parliamentary questions and attempting to wrest control of organized party meetings. On the whole, they were successful in some cases — but not enough to force their candidate into the GOP’s multi-day Tampa love-fest.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


It’s D-Day for Ron Paul’s 2012 Insurgency

Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Today will mark the end, or the ultimate success, of Ron Paul’s delegate insurgency.

After a primary campaign in which Paul’s team focused on the most ignored parts of the GOP process, winning delegates in overlooked caucus states and organizing around delegate votes at state conventions, Paul supporters will have their last chance today to ensure an official presence for Paul at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

The Nebraska GOP convention – the last in which delegates will be up for grabs – will offer a long shot at putting Paul over a critical threshold.

Paul is on the cusp of winning enough support to secure a 15-minute speaking slot and to have his name placed on the ballot of official candidates for the nomination at the Republican National Convention in August.

Mainstream Republicans would blanch at such a prospect, given that Paul’s views on the Federal Reserve, currency, foreign policy and America’s global military presence run antithetical to Republican orthodoxy. Republican Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, a supporter of Mitt Romney, has been making phone calls and organizing delegate support for Romney to block Paul’s supporters at the state convention.

If Paul can demonstrate the support of a plurality of delegates from five states, Republican National Committee bylaws require he be allowed to speak in Tampa. Paul has enough delegates from Iowa, Minnesota and Maine, and Louisiana’s still-disputed delegation could put him over the five-state mark, if his supporters prevail in Nebraska.

Paul backers will face long odds in Nebraska, where the convention’s voting attendees were selected in early June at county conventions. Attendees of those events had to register by March 1, meaning that Saturday’s outcome reflects a months-long organizing push by libertarian supporters of Paul.

“We have a rough count” of state-convention delegates and whom they support, said Laura Ebke, who leads the Nebraska chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus and who is the chief organizer of Ron Paul supporters in the state. “We don’t have a majority. We have a significant minority.”

Saturday’s results will depend on who shows up. The convention provides for 400 voting delegates, but state party Executive Director Jordan McGrain said he does not expect all to attend. More than two thirds will likely show up, he said.

Paul, who has stopped campaigning in new states, is not personally organizing around the Nebraska convention, Ebke said. According to Ebke and McGrain, neither Paul nor Romney have staff in the state working on this event.

The Republican candidate and libertarian hero will have a presence in Tampa, Fla., regardless of what happens in Nebraska. His campaign is planning a rally, and supporters have planned a festival, to coincide with Tampa’s preparations for the Republican National Convention.

But unless Paul meets the RNC requirements as a candidate for the nomination, he has no guarantee of an official presence inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum. He’ll be at the mercy of convention organizers and presumptive nominee Mitt Romney to grant him speaking time, entrance to the event and visibility as a participant.

In 2008, Paul was shut out of the Republican convention in Minnesota. As delegates rallied around the ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin in the Staples Center, Ron Paul held his own event across town.

Paul’s status has risen since then, as he outdid his 2008 vote totals in key states along the way in 2012, but his views still make him a pariah to some. It’s been suggested, most prominently in a column by Republican tax maven Grover Norquist, that Romney would be wise to seek a reconciliation with Paul in an attempt to bring his supporters into the fold.

Paul’s campaign expects to bring as many as 500 supportive delegates to Tampa, out of 2,286 total, meaning his floor presence could be noticeable with or without the assent of Romney and the convention’s organizers. But unless his backers can overcome long odds in Nebraska, Paul is guaranteed nothing from those putting on the event.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Last Stand for Ron Paul

Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Rep. Ron Paul faces long odds in his last chance to win an official presence and speaking slot at the Republican National Convention.

Paul supporters are organizing for the Nebraska state GOP convention on Saturday, which could give the libertarian Republican candidate enough support to grant him a 15-minute speech at the party’s August convention in Tampa. Under RNC bylaws, Paul will qualify as a candidate for the nomination in Tampa -- and be afforded a speech at the convention -- if he can demonstrate plurality support among delegates in five states. Paul controls a plurality in Iowa, Minnesota, and Maine, and he could meet that mark in the still-disputed Louisiana delegation.

Those involved in Nebraska’s convention, however, say Paul is a long-shot to win there.

“We have a rough count,” said Laura Ebke, who runs the Nebraska chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus and is leading the organization of Paul-backing delegates. “We don’t have a majority. We have a significant minority.”

Nebraska GOP Executive Director Jordan McGrain shared that assessment. Having seen the list of registered delegates, McGrain said the Ron Paul faction is “not that close” to overtaking the convention majority.

Aside from Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, the Romney campaign does not have a presence in Nebraska working against Paul, according to McGrain. The campaign does not have an office in the state. Paul’s campaign did not have staff working on the convention as of Wednesday, Ebke said, although she has been in touch with the Paul campaign during phases of the Nebraska primary process.

To some extent, the outcome of Saturday’s convention has already been determined, as it will reflect campaigns’ success or failure to organize in February and June.

The state-convention delegates, who will vote on Saturday, were chosen at county conventions in the first 10 days of June. To attend and vote at those events, participants had to register by March 1. Ebke said she was in touch with Paul’s campaign in February.

Of the 400 state-convention delegate seats, not all are expected to show up. Paul’s best chance, at this point, is for Romney’s supporters not to attend. Nebraska’s Republican governor, Dave Heineman, has been making phone calls on Romney’s behalf according to sources in Nebraska, while the state party has remained officially neutral.

Both the state party and Paul’s supporters hope for a peaceful event, after other states have seen confrontations between Paulites and state-party officials, some involving police. At Louisiana’s convention, a dispute arose over procedure, and after pressing the convention chair for recognition, Paul supporters proceeded according to their understanding of convention rules–and turned their backs on the chair who had opened proceedings. A majority of attendees staged their own proceedings at the other end of the room, after one Paul supporter was accosted by police.

“We are both troubled by the rhetoric and heightened tensions surrounding the upcoming NEGOP Convention this Saturday in Grand Island,” Ebke and Nebraska GOP Chairman Mark Fahleson said in a joint statement issued this week. “There is something called ‘The Nebraska Way.’ It’s honesty. Being cordial and neighborly. Practicing The Golden Rule. And, when differences occur, shaking hands and agreeing to disagree in a respectful way. It’s important to us that the NEGOP Convention be conducted ‘The Nebraska Way.’”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Deb Fischer Wins Republican Nomination in Nebraska Senate Race

Douglas Graham/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney picked up two more states on Tuesday, winning the presidential primaries in both Oregon and Nebraska.  But the main focus that evening was on Nebraska's Republican senate primary.

State Sen. Deb Fischer made a come from behind win to beat Attorney General John Bruning for a chance to occupy the senate seat being vacated this fall by Nebraska's Ben Nelson.

Fischer, 61, was considered to be an underdog in the Republican’s senate primary battle.  Bruning, 43, was seen as the frontrunner -- he had higher name recognition than Fischer and his campaign far outpaced hers in terms of fundraising.

Fischer’s candidacy didn’t take off until late in the game, and for most of the primary season Bruning focused his attacks on Don Stenberg, who initially appeared to be his biggest challenger.  The attacks lodged by Bruning and Stenberg likely ended up helping Fischer.

Texas Sen. Jon Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, released a statement congratulating Fischer on her victory.

“I congratulate Deb Fischer on winning the Nebraska Republican Senate Primary, and look forward to her election in November.  The difference in this race couldn’t be more clear.  Deb is a small business rancher, mother and conservative leader who believes we need to spend less, balance our budget and repeal ObamaCare, while her opponent supports bigger government and higher taxes” Cornyn said.  “It’s time to restore fiscal sanity and enact pro-jobs policies in Washington and we can do that with Deb Fischer as the next U.S. Senator from Nebraska.”

Fischer will run against Bob Kerrey in the fall.  The former governor and senator of the Cornhusker state officially won his party’s nomination on Tuesday, though he had been considered the likely nominee since he entered the race. Nelson, the state’s Democratic senator, announced he would not seek re-election in December 2011.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What to Watch for in Oregon, Nebraska and Idaho Voting Contests

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Voters will go to the polls in Idaho, Nebraska and Oregon on Tuesday.

Oregon and Nebraska both host their presidential primary contests, though those races have ceased to get any significant levels of attention now that the GOP race is all but decided. 

Idaho holds its state and congressional primary, the first closed primary in the state’s history.

Here’s a list of four things to watch for Tuesday night:

Nebraska Senate Primary

The Nebraska Senate race will be a key race for Republicans and Democrats in the fall.  Republicans view the state as one of their best chances to pick up a seat from Democrats, particularly since the retirement announcement of Nebraska’s Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson.

Republican and Democratic voters in Nebraska will both select their nominees for the race on Tuesday.  On the Democratic side, Bob Kerrey, the former governor and senator for the state, is considered the likely nominee.  The Republican race is more fluid.

There are three candidates in the Republican race: Jon Bruning, the state’s attorney general, Deb Fischer, a state senator, and state treasurer Don Stenberg.  Bruning, 43, has long been considered the favorite, but heading into the primary he faces a late in the game surge from Fischer, 61.


Strong turnout is sometimes interpreted as a sign of enthusiasm, as was the case in Wisconsin’s primary for their recall election last week.  Republicans were heartened by the strong turnout for Gov. Scott Walker, despite the fact that he was already the presumed candidate (after all, he is the one being recalled).

In Nebraska, turnout will be driven at least to some degree by the senate primary.  Nevertheless, strong turnout for either side in Nebraska and Oregon will likely be interpreted as a sign of enthusiasm about the general election in those states.


At stake in Tuesday’s contest are 63 delegates, though the 35 delegates in Nebraska will not actually be awarded until July, as Tuesday’s primary is a beauty contest.  Mitt Romney has 973 delegates, according to ABC News calculations, a little less than 200 delegates shy of the 1,144 he needs to win his party’s nomination.

It is mathematically impossible for Romney to hit 1,144 on Tuesday night.  The earliest that can happen is May 29, when Texas holds its primary.

The Surprise Factor

Last week, the primary development that had everyone talking was the surprisingly strong performance of federal inmate Keith Judd in the Democratic presidential primary in West Virginia.  Though it was well known that President Obama is not exactly popular in the Mountain State, the 40 percent of the vote Judd received still took observers by surprise.

There are no prison inmates on the ballot in Oregon or Nebraska’s Democratic primaries, but a surprise factor like a strong performance by “uncommitted” against Obama in Nebraska, or a big turnout in either party’s primaries in Oregon, could still emerge.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ex-Senator from Nebraska to Run Again, Report Says

Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Democrat Bob Kerrey, a former senator from Nebraska, has made a reversal and decided to run for office again, The Washington Post reports.

His decision is good news for Democrats, who feared losing the seat being vacated by Ben Nelson.  Kerrey, who was a senator from 1989 to 2001, said in early February that he wouldn’t run because it wouldn’t be right for his family.

Kerrey, 68, has told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada of his plans, the Post reported.  Reid’s office didn’t confirm the call to ABC News.

A former governor and a presidential candidate, Kerrey has faced criticism from Republicans that his real home is New York City, not the redder Nebraska.  He moved to New York to lead the New School (until 2010) after leaving the Senate.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


States File Suit Against Contraception Mandate

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) -- Nebraska, joined by Republican attorneys general of six other states, filed suit in federal court Thursday challenging the Obama administration’s policy requiring most health insurance plans to cover preventive services for women, including contraception and the morning-after pill, without a co-pay.

The states argue the policy forces religious schools, non-profits and employers to violate their religious and faith-based beliefs by providing insurance plans covering services that conflict with those beliefs.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Nebraska, argues, “The First Amendment has for centuries served as a rampart against government interference with religious liberty.”

The Obama administration altered the policy in early February amid fierce criticism from advocates of religious liberty.

The president announced an accommodation that would allow women to obtain free contraception by obtaining it directly from the insurance company if their employers object to it out of religious concerns.

But the attorneys general reject the accommodation. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement, “Any rule, regulation or law that forces faith-based institutions to provide for services that violate their free exercise of religion, or that penalizes them for failing to kneel at the altar of government, is a flat-out violation of the First Amendment.”

The states joining Nebraska are Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

Co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit are two individuals, two nonprofit corporations (Catholic Social Services and the Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America) and Pius X Catholic High School (in Nebraska).

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson Announces Retirement

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- The senior senator from Nebraska has decided not to run for re-election next year. Retiring at the end of his second term, Nebraska's Ben Nelson becomes the seventh Senate Democrat to announce his retirement this session.

In 2012, Democrats will find themselves defending 23 senate seats - far more than Republicans, who have 10 members up for re-election next year.  If four seats change hands into the GOP column, so too would control of the Senate.

In a statement Tuesday, President Obama thanked Nelson for "his years of service representing the people of Nebraska, first as Governor and then for more than a decade in the United States Senate."

"Over the course of his career, Ben’s commitment to working with both Democrats and Republicans across a broad range of issues is a trait far too often overlooked in today’s politics.  Michelle and I commend Ben for his service, and wish him and his family well in the future," the president said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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