July 31, 2015

Final weeks of death penalty petition effort

Petition circulators for Nebraskans for the Death Penalty continue to collect signatures from voters in their effort to get the issue on the November 2016 ballot. Supporter Teri Roberts was in Waterloo collecting signatures Tuesday evening. Roberts is the mother of Omaha murder victim Andrea Kruger.

Roberts says, “I had always been for the death penalty but once we lost her this issue came to the forefront for us.”

Roberts is optimistic the required signatures will be gathered before the August 27th deadline. Nebraskans for the Death Penalty are required to turn in 57,000 valid signatures from at least 40% of the state’s 93 counties in order for it to appear on the ballot. Part two of the process requires 114,000 signatures. If those are collected the death penalty repeal would be suspended until the outcome of the election.

Hadley Richters named Ex. Director of Nebraska Democratic Party

Hadley Richters/Photo courtesy of the Nebraska Democratic Party

Hadley Richters/Photo courtesy of the Nebraska Democratic Party

The Nebraska Democratic Party has announced Interim Executive Director Hadley Richters has been named the new executive director of the party.

Richters became interim executive director when Dan Marvin left the post in November 2014.

“Hadley is an outstanding political leader,” Vince Powers, Chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party said in a written statement released by the party. “She has played a critical role in countless campaigns, demonstrated extensive fundraising prowess and will provide great expertise for the Party as we prepare for the 2016 elections and beyond.”

Richters has served as finance director of the party. The NDP says Richters organized the most successful annual fundraising dinner in the party’s history.

Previously, Richters co-owned Richters, Brinkman, LLC, a political consulting firm based in Lincoln that worked on Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler’s campaign as well as other campaigns.

“I’m excited to continue my work with the Nebraska Democratic Party to further our progress. Over the past two years, we’ve seen a substantial increase in participation, involvement, and financial contributions from previous years, and there is a newfound energy within the NDP,” Richters said in a written statement. “As a result, we now have a group of outstanding candidates prepared to run for the Legislature, and the resources to help them win. I am excited to continue building on our recent success with the goal of electing more Democrats, and implementing progressive ideas that will continue to benefit all Nebraskans.”

UNO Political Science prof: Trump getting reality lesson in politics

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign stop in Aimes, IA/Photo by O. Kay Henderson, Radio Iowa

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign stop in Aimes, IA/Photo by O. Kay Henderson, Radio Iowa

A University of Nebraska-Omaha political science professor says Republican Donald Trump is getting a lesson in presidential politics.

During a campaign stop in Ames, Iowa, Troup dismissed fellow-Republican John McCain’s war record, declaring that the United States Senator from Arizona wasn’t a war hero because he served as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, adding, “I like people that weren’t captured.”

The statement has caused an uproar and has been denounced by Trump’s fellow Republican presidential candidates.

UNO Political Science Professor Randall Adkins calls it politics at its best.

“This was part of a public conversation that was going on between Trump and McCain that was occurring and where Trump was really being asked a question about something McCain had responded to,” Adkins says. “Clearly what he does here is he makes a gaffe. It’s something he says in passing. It’s almost the kind of thing you don’t mean to do because you’re just sort of thinking out loud. After he made the gaffe he and his campaign ‘double down’ on it, trying to make an argument that McCain hasn’t done enough for veterans and this whole thing is really McCain’s fault.”

Adkins says part of the fallout of Trump’s statement will have people talking about his own service during the Vietnam War – which is none. He says that is something Trump really doesn’t want people talking about right now.

Adkins this time before the Iowa Caucus is when candidates should be spreading their message by talking to small groups. He believes Trump is trying to bypass that process and jump right into the debates using his name recognition.

Adkins says when it comes right down to it, “he really has to be much more careful about what he says.”

Death penalty petition process continues

Petitioners continue to swarm the state gathering signatures to get the death penalty repeal issue on the ballot. Elkhorn State Senator Beau McCoy is co-chair of “Nebraskans for the Death Penalty” and says he encourages those for and against the issue to sign the petition.

McCoy says, “I’m very excited about Nebraskans engaging on this issue and Nebraskans who may even support the repeal of the death penalty but who feel the people of Nebraska deserve to take a vote and even a lot of them have signed petitions as well.”

McCoy says although some of those gathering signatures are paid circulators many are volunteers who feel passionate about the issue. He says there are petitions across the state from Sidney, North Platte, and McCook to the metro area. He says they plan to ramp up efforts in near future and plan to be at county fairs and other summer events.

The group has until August 27th to turn in 57,000 valid signatures in order to get the issue on the ballot for voters to decide.

A counter campaign asks you to “decline to sign” death petition (AUDIO/VIDEO)

You might well be asked to sign a petition to reinstate the death penalty, even as you are being urged not to sign.

A petition drive underway by Nebraskans for the Death Penalty seeks enough signatures to place the death penalty on the November 2016 ballot.

It is an effort to reverse the Unicameral’s decision to repeal the death penalty, completed when the legislature overrode Gov. Pete Ricketts’ veto of LB 268.

ACLU of Nebraska has received a $400,000 grant from Proteus Action League to mount a campaign against the petition drive.

Executive Director Danielle Conrad says the state chapter is thrilled to receive the grant to continue what she describes as a thoughtful public dialogue about the death penalty. The money primarily will be used to oppose the petition effort and keep the issue off the 2016 November ballot.

“If, however, our opponents are successful and they do have an opportunity to place this on the ballot, we’re really starting that general election campaign today,” Conrad tells Nebraska Radio Network.

A coalition has formed, calling itself Nebraskans for Public Safety, to oppose the effort to reinstate capital punishment. Its first effort is the following video entitled “Decline to Sign” which features, among others, state Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln, one of the conservatives instrumental in obtaining the votes needed to repeal the death penalty in the legislature.

Conrad says a number of public education efforts will be undertaken, such as distributing campaign literature, using social media to get its message out, and even paying for some broadcast commercials.

Also, a paid field team will shadow petition circulators at some public venues, urging Nebraska votes not to sign the petition.

“As petitioners are out circulating through community festivals and other public places this summer, our educators will be out passing out palm cards, which have our point of view about the issue so that Nebraska voters can decide for themselves.”

Conrad says it is too early to determine whether the campaign to place the death penalty on the ballot will succeed, but says it’s a significant issue facing Nebraskans.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]