Thursday, September 04, 2014

Race of the Day- Nebraska Governor

61 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Open
2012 Presidential Result: Red State (Midwest)

Outlook: Likely Republican

In two months, Nebraskans will have elected a new Governor, a job that a whole lot of politicians in the incumbent party wanted to win, but in what will have turned out to be a race pretty different than what was anticipated a couple years ago.

After two elected terms, and half of another one, the once extremely popular GOP Governor Dave Heineman is term-limited. Almost all recent Nebraska Governors have found themselves running for the U.S. Senate and many thought that Heineman stood a good bet of being elected as a Senator in 2012, leaving the office and incumbency to Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy heading into 2014. However, Heineman decided to stay in place and finish out his term, and Sheehy set plans to run anyways, with his boss's support. He was expected to face Mike Floor, the Speaker of the state's unicameral legislature in a Republican primary. However, news came to light that Sheehy had misused a state phone while possibly stepping out on his wife. The revelations would cause Sheehy to resign from office and he was obviously out of the race for Governor. On the opposite side of the marital spectrum, Flood left the race after his wife was diagnosed with cancer.

With the suddenly wide open field, several Republicans would enter the fray, although one would drop out, also related to a wife's health issues, and one State Senator decided he would have an easier go running for State Auditor. Still, the field contained Mike Foley, the elected State Auditor as well as Attorney General Jon Bruning, who had twice seen his Senate ambitions fall short, including in 2012, when he had once been a strong favorite to win that nomination. He would try to rebound by running for Governor, and would earn the endorsement of the incumbent. Also in the race was State Senator Beau McCoy, who tried to rally the Tea Party behind him, as well as State Senator Tom Carlson. Two candidates who had never held elective office also ran in the persons of attorney Bryan Slone and wealthy businessman Pete Ricketts.

Ricketts was seen a a particularly promising candidate and received many endorsements both from Nebraska Republicans and other prominent figures across the country. The chrome-domed candidate had been a highly touted U.S. Senate nominee in 2006, but could not muster close to enough votes against a popular Democrat Senator. The son of the founder of TD Ameritrade, Ricketts had served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Omaha based corporation. Before that, he had studied at the University of Chicago, and his family also happens to own the Chicago Cubs, the mega-rising Major League Baseball team, with many long-suffering, but currently optimistic fans, including myself. Pete Ricketts sits on the Cubs' Board of Directors but is not involved in day to day operations of the franchise, as his brother Tom runs things. The Ricketts campaign recently hosted a fundraiser at Wrigley Field in Chicago for his campaign, and his family was united in supporting him. While Tom Ricketts is not considered to be political, and has to try to get along with the Democrats that run Chicago in regards to the politics of renovating the stadium, the Ricketts father is a very conservative Super PAC donor, and sister Laura is a prominent gay activist and active Democrat.

The crowded May primary was won by Ricketts, with Bruning, suffering another disappointing second place primary finish, just about 2,000 votes behind. McCoy and Foley were not too far back in the pack either. After winning the contest with just 26 percent of the vote, Ricketts clearly needed to try to bring the party together for the fall campaign.

Meanwhile, the Democrat nomination went without a hitch to former University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook. The Executive Director of a non-profit rural organization was unopposed on the ballot after a State Senator dropped out of the Democrat primary. That is a contrast to what Hassebrook experienced in 2012, when he was easily eclipsed in a U.S. Senate primary by the return to the state and comeback effort of Bob Kerrey.

In this general election, Hassebrook, the Democrat is considered the rural candidate, while Ricketts, the GOP nominee, has more of an urban background. After the primary, both candidates picked running-mates to try to bolster perceived weaknesses. Hassebrook chose Lincoln businesswoman Jane Raybould, who is a Lancaster County Commissioner. While Ricketts ran for the GOP nomination as an outsider to state government, he borrowed from the current administration by picking farmer and current Lt. Governor Lavon Heidemann. Having been appointed Lt. Governor by Heineman after Sheehy resigned, Heidemann (no Governor and Lt. Governor may have ever had such similar last names), will run to try to keep the job he currently holds.

There has not seemed to be too much in the way of polling regarding this race. Some after the primary, showed Hassebrook trailing, but closer than many might have expected in the strongly Republican state. That could have a bit to do with Ricketts not yet fully uniting the party behind him. I think there are some factors in this open race that might allow it to be reasonably competitive throughout, but it is still hard to see how Ricketts, with what is a considerable financial edge, might lose in this Cornhusker Red State, during a midterm. 

Some moderate Republicans or farmers might give some level of support to the Democrat in this race, and perhaps the final margin, might be high-single digits, but Ricketts should plan on winning the Governorship and maybe before his first term is up, a Chicago Cubs World Series ring as well.

Ricketts campaign link:

Gubernatorial races predicted thus far: 9 D (1 Safe, 1 Likely, 4 Leans, 3 Tossup) , 11 R (2 Safe, 3 Likely, 6 Leans)
Overall totals predicted thus far: 16 D, 18 R


At 7:21 AM, Anonymous Conservative Democrat said...

Cubs will NEVER win a World Series championship.


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