April 19, 2014

Osborn trails Sasse in fundraising; insists he has the cash he needs

Shane Osborn talks with KLIN Program Director Kevin Thomas at Broadcast House, Lincoln

Shane Osborn talks with KLIN Program Director Kevin Thomas at Broadcast House, Lincoln

United States Senate candidate Shane Osborn says he has the money he needs to win the Republican primary next month.

The Osborn campaign reports raising a total of $1.6 million, trailing only Ben Sasse among the four major Republican candidates.

Osborn says that total includes just over $600,000 for the primary election.

“You know, we get checks for $3 and $5 and $20, but I love it because those are people who are going to vote for you and they are going to tell their friends and family and that’s what this campaign has always been about is Nebraskans and putting Nebraskans first,” Osborn tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Osborn says the total will be enough to finance a winning campaign.

“We’ve run a very lean campaign, just like I ran a lean office as state Treasurer. I know how to get the most out of a dollar,” Osborn says. “As state Treasurer, I actually cut a budget. I’ve shrunk government. I cut it nearly 12%, reduced the staff 28%. It’s the same way I run a campaign. It’s the same way I will be as a United States Senator. I know how to actually shrink government.”

Ben Sasse, the Midland University president, leads the pack in fund-raising, collecting a total of $2.2 million.

Pinnacle Bank chairman Sid Dinsdale of Omaha has raised nearly $900,000.

Omaha lawyer Bart McLeay has raised $556,000.

One other Republican has filed for the office, Clifton Johnson of Ft. Calhoun.

Democrat Dave Domina, an Omaha attorney, reports raising $303,000 for his United States Senate campaign.

Larry Marvin of Fremont also has filed as a Democrat for the office.

All of the candidates hope to succeed Sen. Mike Johanns, a Republican, who has decided to retire from politics rather than run for another term.

Four Republicans face off in final GOP US Senate debate (AUDIO)

Ben Sasse holds his son while talking to a voter after the debate

Ben Sasse holds his son while talking to a voter after the debate

Four Republicans vying for the United States Senate squared off in a debate for the last time before the primary election.

Candidates answers questions on a wide range of topics from campaign finance reform to the war on terror and, of course, the federal health insurance law during an approximately hour-long debate at the University of Nebraska College of Law in Lincoln.

On immigration, Omaha lawyer Bart McLeay said those in the country illegally must respect American laws.

“I would, however, agree with a pathway to residency, meaning background checks and also having employment and other such things,” McLeay stated.

Midland University President Ben Sasse asserted a pathway to residency wouldn’t work now.

“I appreciate the impulse behind the question, but fundamentally I reject the premise that you can have a comprehensive solution with this president,” Sasse stated. “He selectively non-enforces laws.”

Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale said that until the border is secured all immigration talk is nonsense.

“But until you do that, it’s just too leaky. It’s just a sieve with people coming into our country,” Dinsdale said.

Shane Osborn talks with voters afterward

Shane Osborn talks with voters afterward

Former State Treasurer Shane Osborn rejected any consideration of a pathway to residency.

“I am completely against amnesty and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants,” Osborn stated. “I’m completely against it. I’m the only one who has consistently said that; not dodging, ducking. I’m telling you right now.”

The four are running to get the Republican nod to replace Sen. Mike Johanns who is retiring after this year.

Democrat Dave Domina, a lawyer from Omaha, also is a candidate in the race.

Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN sponsored the debate. Click here to hear audio of the entire debate.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:55]

Sid Dinsdale mingles after the debate

Sid Dinsdale mingles after the debate

Bart McLeay shares a laugh with one of the panelist, Gordon Winters

Bart McLeay shares a laugh with one of the panelist, Gordon Winters

Hassebrook says he would bring change to the Capitol (AUDIO)

Chuck Hassebrook speaks during a Capitol Rotunda news conference as Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler looks on

Chuck Hassebrook speaks during a Capitol Rotunda news conference as Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler looks on

A Democrat running for governor says things will look a lot different at the Capitol if he is elected.

Democrat Chuck Hassebrook of Lyons supports expanding Medicaid under the federal health insurance law.

“From my perspective, the filibuster that blocked the expansion of Medicaid really represents the triumph of partisan extremism over common sense,” Hassebrook tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Hassebrook contends two groups have been hurt, because the legislature blocked Medicaid expansion. He says the working poor who does not qualify for Medicaid and cannot afford private insurance continues to go without health insurance and he contends Nebraskans who have insurance pay higher premiums to cover the costs of the uninsured.

Hassebrook says he would have approached the issue differently than did Gov. Dave Heineman, who adamantly opposed Medicaid expansion and used his office to help block it. Supporters of expansion could not overcome a filibuster against it.

On prison reform, Hassebrook supports increasing divergence programs to ease over-crowding in Nebraska prisons, such as drug courts for non-violent drug offenders.

“We know that if we send someone to prison for a drug crime there is almost a 50% chance they re-offend,” according to Hassebrook. “If we send them to a drug court, there’s a 15% chance they re-offend and it costs about a third as much.”

Hassebrook also supports the proposed increase in the state minimum wage, saying the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour has not kept up with inflation.

Hassebrook served on the University of Nebraska Board Of Regents for 18 years, and spent 36 years working at the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons.

Online voter registration coming to Nebraska (AUDIO)

Gov. Dave Heineman signs LB 661 into law as Sec. of State John Gale looks on

Gov. Dave Heineman signs LB 661 into law as Sec. of State John Gale looks on

Nebraska residents soon will be able to register to vote online.

Gov. Dave Heineman has signed LB 661 into law during a ceremony in his Capitol office.

Secretary of State John Gale joined Heineman during the signing ceremony.

Gale said it only makes sense to allow online voter registration.

“Obviously, over the last 15 years many, many, many Americans depend upon online services for all kinds of things, whether it’s purchases or information or renewing their driver’s license,” Gale stated. “And so it’s just a natural sequence of things that we need to modernize our election system to accommodate that interest in online convenience.”

Under provisions of the bill, Nebraska residents will be allowed to register to vote online or to change their voter registration information online.

Gale said he expects the change to make a difference for Nebraska voters.

“Particularly to the newer generations that have lived with technology all of their school years,” according to Gale. “They expect this to be available to them and we’re glad we’re able to offer it.”

The Secretary of State’s office is to have the online system in place by July of next year so it can be ready for the 2016 elections.

Gale said Nebraska will rely on the experience of other states to make sure the online voter registration system will be both convenient and free from fraud.

“The fact that 17 other states have been able to accomplish it, we’ll have a great resource of help from them to ensure that we have the built in firewalls and security to make it a safe system,” Gale said.

Under provisions of LB 661, voter registrations would incorporate the copies of signatures on file at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

AUDIO:  Gov. Heineman holds news conference on LB 661 with Sec. of State John Gale. [5:40]

GOP Senate candidates discuss issues at UNO debate (AUDIO)

GOP US Senate candidates debate at UNO (R-L): McLeay, Dinsdale, Sasse, and Osborn

GOP US Senate candidates debate at UNO (R-L): McLeay, Dinsdale, Sasse, and Osborn

Four Republicans running for the seat being vacated by United States Sen. Mike Johanns discussed their views on immigration, the federal debt, health care, and the Ukrainian crisis during an hour-long debate held on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

The Nebraska Republican Party sponsored the exchange of ideas among Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale, Omaha lawyer Bart McLeay, former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, and Midland University President Ben Sasse.

On the problem of illegal immigration, Dinsdale said a trip to the southern border convinced him the fence needs to be fixed.

“And I even went and stuck my toe in Mexico and came back in with no passport,” Dinsdale told the audience. “I’m not the most athletic guy. I didn’t poll-vault over the fence. It’s a low fence. And that’s just one gap of hundreds in the fence.”

Osborn says technology could help patrol the border.

“We have the technology in place. It’s quite simple,” according to Osborn. “But, we also know Washington, D.C. can’t agree on anything, right? It’s dysfunctional out there. So what we need is to rely on the governors or the legislatures of the border states. Let them decide it.”

Sasse accused the Obama Administration of not taking illegal immigration seriously.

“Fundamentally, I think this administration pays lip service to border security when, really, what they’re most interested in is trying to figure out how to turn Texas into a blue or a purple state,” Sasse stated.

The candidates share a laugh as McLeay jokes during the debate

The candidates share a laugh as McLeay jokes

McLeay said there are ways to secure the southern border.

“I’m in favor of the triple layer fence they use in San Diego. That is effective,” said McLeay. “For uneven terrain across the other parts of the southern border, we can use sensor technology and even some un-manned non-military aircraft to help us seal the border.”

None of the candidates favored President Barack Obama’s proposal to increase the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. All said such an increase would actually hurt those it is intended to help, arguing that businesses would have to scale back their employees due to the added costs.

All favor cutting federal governmental programs, even eliminating some federal agencies to reduce the size of government and lower the annual federal deficit. Yet, each candidate said that only economic growth could eliminate the $17 trillion federal debt.

Each candidate took shots at the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, saying it should be repealed. They offered various alternatives.

As for the trouble in the Ukraine, the candidates suggested the Obama Administration’s foreign policy emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin to move troops in position to threaten the former Soviet Union state.

McLeay advocated for economic sanctions and the diplomatic isolation of Russia.

“We need to take active, forceful steps toward Putin,” McLeay stated. “I don’t agree with our president, but I don’t like anybody like Putin pushing the United States around at all. So, I would take very aggressive action. But I’m not prepared to take military action, because I don’t think it’s necessary at this point.”

Sasse blamed President Obama for mishandling the crisis.

“We are in this position, because Barack Obama has a naïve, liberal world view that says that somehow aggression is out of date on the international stage,” according to Sasse. “And we’re being schooled on the international stage.”

Osborn claimed the U.S. has lost respect abroad.

“In the Middle East, they don’t respect freedom like we do. They don’t respect life like we do. But, they do respect strength and power. When you cross a line in Syria and let them get away with it that has more effects than just in Syria,” Osborn said.

Dinsdale accused President Obama of making matters worse.

“We have a real crisis in America on the foreign policy side, because we have a community organizer up against the former head of the KGB and you know who’s winning,” Dinsdale quipped.

AUDIO:  GOP U.S. Senate candidate debate, University of Nebraska-Omaha campus. [Apprx. one hour]