Matt Lewis (follow him), one of my favorite journalists, has published a thinly veiled endorsement of Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg. You might be confused, of course, given that he only mentions Don twice in the entire article. At bottom, he suggests, we should trust organizations over individuals when it comes to listening to endorsements.
That’s all well and good (although I think such an idea is overly simplistic).
Lewis seems to think Stenberg’s relatively weak position in the polls is a consequence of his poor campaigning style. That’s true, but it fails to account for the reasons why Stenberg is so bad at campaigning. Here’s one:
Stenberg is the epitome of what so many Nebraskans have tired of in their representatives. Don is a career politician. This is his fourth Senate campaign and he’s running for Senate just two years after winning a race for State Treasurer. Much like his opponent Jon Bruning, Don’s been running for office since finishing school.
If Nebraskans wanted to send Don to the Senate, they might have done it in 1996. Instead, he was crushed in the primary by Chuck Hagel. He lost a close general election race to Ben Nelson in 2000 (although given the resounding win George W. Bush enjoyed in Nebraska, no GOP candidate should have lost). Finally, he lost to Pete Ricketts in 2006’s GOP primary.
In no way do I wish to suggest that losing elections means you have bad ideas or are a bad person. Unfortunately, however, it does mean you’re not a very good politician, and that counts for quite a bit more than the first two things in the real world. Tuesday’s winner will face Bob Kerrey, who is a formidable candidate in Nebraska despite a huge GOP voter registration advantage. No matter how solid Don’s ideas, he isn’t a proven winner, and that counts. Nebraska conservatives should realize that there are competing demands between electability and political philosophy.
Now I don’t subscribe to the apocalyptic view of elections that holds each round as the most important in America’s history. With that said, this is a big one. If the GOP allows a Nebraska Senate seat to slip away from its grasp, it can protest all it likes about not picking the conservative enough candidate, but that doesn’t matter. We only pick these folks every six years, so when we have the opporunity to win back a major seat, let’s make the proper choice.
As I said a month ago, Deb Fischer is our best option for beating Bob Kerrey in the fall:
The best choice for Nebraskans happens to have just finished up a hard-working session in your state legislature. Like the Nebraskansshe represents, she believes it’s important to finish her work. She’s a career mom who has experience in small business, the challenges of education and the cultural values shared by all Nebraskans. She’ll represent “Nebraska values” like no other candidate in this race.
She’s found success because of hard work and a willingness to challenge the status quo. She’s the American Dream and she wants to make that dream accessible to all willing to work hard enough.
We need more candidates just like her in Washington.
Vote Deb Fischer on May 15. You won’t be disappointed.
A hardworking woman with a background not in politics but private industry and who cares about her constituents instead of acquiring fame or fortune in public office.
That’s something Nebraskans value very much, and it’s my final sell for Nebraska Republicans. Deb is our candidate. Give her your vote today.