Nebraska Democrats head toward their state convention unsure of who will lead the party with concerns about unity. But, the state party chairman says Democrats are coming together.
Nebraska Democratic Party Chairman Vince Powers will not seek re-election after attempting to form a unity ticket prior to the state convention.
But, Powers says the potential contest between 2014 gubernatorial nominee Chuck Hassebrook and Bold Nebraska founder Jane Kleeb for chair demonstrates strength, not division.
“We are in better shape than we’ve been in in a long, long time and I think the best way to assess it is the keen interest in being elected to a party position. We’ve never seen this before,” Powers tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Powers attempted to bridge the divide between supporters of former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by putting together what he termed a unity ticket. Under it, Powers would run for re-election, Kleeb would run for vice-chairman, and former state Sen. Steve Lathrop would become a candidate for national committeeman. Democratic fundraiser Andy Holland would be a candidate for national committeewoman.
The proposal stir controversy within the party. Powers withdrew his candidacy for re-election. Lathrop withdrew as a candidate for committeeman.
Powers threw his support to Kleeb as the new chair of the party. Kleeb plans to announce late this afternoon what her plans are for the state convention in Kearney next weekend.
Though the Clinton-Sanders race has split the party nationally and caused division in Nebraska, Powers credits Sanders supporters for boosting enthusiasm on the state level.
“He ran a great election and came very, very close,” Powers says. “So, it’s a great time to be a Nebraska Democrat.”
Though Sanders won the caucus, Clinton won the primary in Nebraska. The caucus win carried more weight. Sanders will receive the majority of delegates allocated by the state party.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]