July 31, 2014

Tea Partier Maxwell rules out 2nd Congressional District run

Nebraska Tea Party supporter Chip Maxwell has pulled his hat from the political ring – for now.

Maxwell announced he will not challenge Lee Terry for the 2nd District Congressional seat in the November election.

Maxwell was running as an Independent but the long-time Republican feared his name on the ballot would split the party vote and give Democrats the advantage.

Maxwell did collect the 2,000 signatures to get his name on the ballot. He says he will now turn his attention to the 2016 election.

State Sen. Brad Ashford is the Democratic challenger to Terry in the November race.


Poll provides encouragement to independent US Senate candidate Jenkins (AUDIO)

A public opinion poll provides some encouraging numbers for the independent United States Senate campaign of Jim Jenkins.

Jenkins commissioned the poll by the MSR Group of Omaha that surveyed 618 registered Nebraska voters between May 27th and the 29th.

MSR Senior Vice President Rob Noha says several findings surprised him.

“I think one of the things I was most surprised about was that 56% of Nebraska voters said that they were likely to consider an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate,” Noha tells Nebraska Radio Network.

A willingness to consider an independent candidate and a negative attitude toward both Republicans and Democrats highlight the poll’s results.

Both parties carry high unfavorable numbers into the November elections. Democrats received an unfavorable reaction from 49% of the voters. Republicans don’t fare much better, receiving an unfavorable score from 47% of those polled.

A full 76% of those questioned disapprove of the way the United States Senate is doing its job.

Nearly 90% say the political parties have too much control in Washington. Eighty-four percent say Republican and Democratic leaders put their own interests ahead of the nation’s interest. Sixty-five percent say the two party system is broken.

Noha says a key figures for Jenkins are that 56% say they would vote for an independent and 52% say an independent could break the Washington gridlock.

“Well, I think this poll helps him in a number of ways,” according to Noha. “First of all, it shows that Nebraskans will consider Jenkins. A majority of them would vote for him. Obviously, the key here is he’s got to get his message out now.”

[Executive summary of poll]

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Sasse Senate campaign reports raising more than a million in quarter

The Ben Sasse United States Senate campaign has announce it raised more than a million dollars in the first reporting period of the general election.

The campaign says it raised nearly $1.2 million. The Republican has more than a million dollars cash on hand.

The campaign fundraising reporting period ran from April 24th through June the 30th.

Sasse has raised $3.58 million total. Sasse won the Republican primary. He is running against Democrat Dave Domina and independent Jim Jenkins.

They are running to succeed Sen. Mike Johanns, a Republican who has decided to leave public office.

One independent US Senate candidate makes ballot; another pending

One independent has been added to the United States Senate race. The status of one other independent is pending.

Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale reports enough signatures have been verified for independent candidate Jim Jenkins to make it on the ballot with Republican Ben Sasse and Democrat Dave Domina.

Jenkins turned in roughly 6,000 signatures. He needed at least 4,000 to be verified to make the ballot with at least 750 of the signatures collected in each of the three Congressional districts.

Todd Watson has reported submitting 5,380 signatures to the Secretary of State. Those signatures will be sent to county election authorities for verification.

Incumbent Republican Sen. Mike Johanns has decided against running for re-election.

Democrat Chuck Hassebrook releases prison plan

Chuck Hassebrook

Chuck Hassebrook

Democrat Chuck Hassebrook vows to change how Nebraska administers good time provisions in prison if elected governor.

Hassebrook has outlined a plan on prisons.

Hassebrook says, as governor, he would prevent prisoners who abuse the rules or attack guards from automatically receiving credit for good time served.

“One of the things that seems to be lost in much of the discussion about good time with the governor trying to blame the legislature is the simple fact that, right now, under the existing statutes the governor has the authority to implement regulations to take away every day of automatically granted good time from inmates who repeatedly break prison rules, who attack prison guards or other prisoners like Nikko Jenkins did,” Hassebrook tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Jenkins is accused of killing four Omaha residents after being released from prison early. The murders prompted considerable discussion about the state “good time” law. Under the law, inmates who enter prison are automatically granted credit for good time served, which in effect cuts their sentence in half.

Gov. Dave Heineman called on the Unicameral to end the practice of automatic good time credit. Legislators didn’t act on the proposal.

Nebraska prisons now hold far more inmates than their designed capacity. At present, more than 5,000 inmates are incarcerated in Nebraska, nearly 160% of the state prison capacity. State legislators, worried about a potential lawsuit, and wishing to avoid building a new prison, created a 19-member Justice Reinvestment Working Group, with members from all three branches of state government to work with the Council of State Governments Justice Center to review alternatives to prison.

Hassebrook says he would review the findings of the working group, but says the state needs to invest more in diversion programs so it can spend less on incarceration.

“We have to make much greater use for non-violent criminals of things like drug courts, mental health courts for people who end up in prison because they have mental illness problems that aren’t violent, but they keep doing dumb things,” Hassebrook says. “We need to expand young adult courts and veteran courts for people who come back from war with problems and end up in prison.”

Hassebrook says he hasn’t calculated the cost of setting up such alternative programs, but believes they would save Nebraska money.

“We do know this, that there is an upfront cost, but that over the long term, they save a lot of money.”

Hassebrook also wants to see more money spent on education.

“Nebraska spends a lot of money on things like public assistance and prisons. They’re spending money dealing with the symptoms of kids getting off to a bad start in life, because they haven’t gotten what they need at home from parents and family,” according to Hassebrook. “I think we need to look at how we can invest our funds earlier to head off some of those problems.”

Hassebrook also advocates more job training programs to keep youth from getting involved in the activities that lead to crime.