Opinion - Opinion
 
Kleeb: Bright hope for Democrats
 

Scott Kleeb is the new, best hope for Nebraska Democrats who hope to capture the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Chuck Hagel.

Kleeb walloped Republican-turned-Democrat Tony Raimondo in the May primary. A multi-millionaire industrialist and close friend of Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, Raimondo was rejected like a ham sandwich at a kosher cooking contest.

Next question: How does Kleeb mount a meaningful campaign against Republican Mike Johanns, the former governor and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture?

Johanns enjoyed solid job ratings during one-and-a-fraction terms as the state’s chief executive. The GOP currently has an edge in voter registration that can be compared to a 26-length lead in the Belmont stakes – about two lengths from the finish line.

Might the economy, gasoline prices, the Iraq war and whatever else give Kleeb a boost? You can bet the Dems will hammer on those themes, and the fact that Johanns served in the cabinet of President Bush.

Kleeb ran a losing campaign against Rep. Adrian Smith in the 2006 election, when the 3rd District seat was left open with the retirement of GOP Rep. Tom Osborne.

An overwhelming loss to Johanns, who goes into the race an overwhelming favorite, would leave Kleeb a two-time loser -- a young, good-looking, Yale educated, ranch hand and college educator – but still a two-time loser.

It would also leave the Democrats, no matter how they spin it, looking for a new, best hope.

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Rs and Ds on the national level agree that the economic middle class has taken a beating. An interesting footnote from history: The middle class in Europe actually got big boost in 1348 from -- The Plague. Really.

Bubonic plague so decimated the population that a shortage of workers naturally occurred. Voila! From that horrific period of history emerged the beginnings of a middle class, what with workers in short supply and wages, such as they were, subsequently increased.

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The November general election will send at least 15 new state senators to the Capitol.

Nebraska’s constitution limits lawmakers to a pair of consecutive, four-year terms. Another six seats are being contested.

Five incumbents are unopposed for re-election, three of them from the state’s largest metro area: Sens. Gwen Howard and Rich Pahls of Omaha and Abbie Cornett of Bellevue.

Sens. Chris Langemeier of Schuyler and Deb Fisher of Valentine are also unopposed.

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More on interesting summer reading. For conservatives, liberals, middle-of-the-road and neophytes interested in current events, Susan Jacoby offers some interesting notions in “The Age of American Unreason.”

Her thesis is that virtually all of us, regardless of our political affiliations and/or philosophies, have decidedly closed our minds to the views of the other side – whatever the other side might be.

In a recent interview, Jacoby said we are no longer interested in going to events, or even watching television, where that other side makes its case.

“Now, people go to hear people they already agree with,” she said. “They don’t go to hear people they don’t agree with, to see if the devil has horns.”


(Ed Howard writes for the Nebraska Press Association.)


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 6/2/2008
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