September 2, 2014

Independent Watson says Nebraska voters need an option for US Senate

Lincoln businessman Todd Watson says there really is only one reason he decided to enter the United States Senate race as an independent.

“Well, we just have a crisis of leadership in Washington. We need big solutions solved and we have two parties that will not work together to solve them,” Watson tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Fundamentally, faith-based guy, I care about the future of my kids and my family, my neighbors, this country. Fundamentally, it calls for leadership in which we just don’t have there right now.”

Watson says he decided he needed to get involved and take action.

Watson and Jim Jenkins are the two independents on the ballot to oppose Republican Ben Sasse and Democrat Dave Domina in the November race to replace retiring Senator Mike Johanns, a Republican.

Watson says voters can’t keep voting in Republicans and Democrats.

“They need a different option. It’s not working. If they do the same thing over and over and expect different results, they’re insane,” Watson says.

Watson says it should be evident that Washington no longer works with Republicans and Democrats in charge.

“We have the results to know they don’t act bipartisan,” according to Watson. “There is no working together anymore and that has to change.”

Watson says he understands running as an independent is an uphill battle, but he says that if he has a chance to talk with voters, he can win them over.

Minimum wage hike makes the November ballot

Nebraska voters will decide whether the state minimum wage is increased.

Secretary of State John Gale has announced organizers gathered well more than the signatures needed to place the issue on the November ballot.

Organizers needed to gather slightly more than 80,000 signatures of registered Nebraska voters to land on the ballot. Gale says nearly 90,000 were verified.

Gale expressed appreciation to local county election officials for quickly processing and verifying the petitions.

“They’ve been working hard to ensure that the verification process has gone smoothly, not only for this petition, but the candidate petitions that we have received as well,” Gale said in a written statement released by his office.

The measure seeks to raise the state minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $8 next year then, up to $9 in 2016.

View the ballot language on the Secretary of State’s website by clicking here.

The Tax Wall Street Party falls short of ballot status

A would-be Nebraska political party has fallen short.

Secretary of State John Gale reports The Tax Wall Street Party failed to gather enough signatures to make it on the November ballot.

Organizers turned in 5,679 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office earlier this month. They needs at least 4,880 valid signatures from Nebraska voters to secure ballot status. The final count, though, was 4,673.

Both Johanns and Fischer see GOP takeover of Senate (AUDIO)

Both of Nebraska’s United States Senators believe Republicans will take the majority in the Senate this fall and both want the Senate to revert back to its old rules.

Sen. Mike Johanns believes Republicans have a very good chance of taking over the Senate.

“Just simply, because the Senate’s not working under Harry Reid,” Johanns tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Johanns, a Republican who is retiring from public office, accuses the Democratic leader of shielding Democrats from tough votes.

“We’re not even doing the basic work that a United States Senate should be doing,” according to Johanns. “And it’s all because Harry Reid doesn’t want his members to have to take a hard vote on something.”

Politics always plays a role in the work of Congress, but it asserts itself most strongly during election years. Johanns accuses Reid of bringing Senate work to a near standstill primarily to prevent votes that could be used against Democrats this fall.

Many national political pundits agree with Johanns, giving Republicans a better than even chance to seize the majority in the Senate.

The Washington Post reports the decision by Sen. John Walsh, a Democrat, to not seek re-election virtually gives the state to Republicans. The Post also sees Republican pickups in South Dakota and West Virginia.

Other states in play are Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, and North Carolina, with Louisiana and Arkansas being the most fertile ground for Republicans.

Republicans need to pick up at least six seats to win the majority.

Sen. Deb Fischer, also a Republican, says the party has strong candidates in states leaning its way. She sees a Republican majority next year.

Fischer says if Republicans do indeed succeed they need to revert to the old rules of the Senate. Reid, as Majority Floor Leader, reduced the vote totals needed to take action from a threshold of 60 votes to a simple majority, effectively shutting the minority out.

“I think it’s very important that each and every member be able to debate, amend, and especially to vote, because we have to justify our votes to our constituents,” Fischer tells Nebraska Radio Network. “That’s what the Senate is supposed to be and that’s what we need to get back to.”

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

US Senate candidate Jenkins says Nebraska is ready for an independent

A recent public opinion poll indicates Nebraska voters would consider voting for an independent candidate for United States Senate.

Independent candidate Jim Jenkins commissioned the poll and says its results are encouraging.

“Well, I think it reflects that Nebraskans have historically been pretty independent and open-minded. I think we’re political pragmatists,” Jenkins tells Nebraska Radio Network. “And so, I don’t think it’s surprising that Nebraskans would look toward a viable independent who has a good Nebraska resume, which I think I do.”

Jenkins commissioned the poll by the MSR Group of Omaha that surveyed 618 registered Nebraska voters between May 27th and the 29th. It indicates that about 56% of Nebraska voters would consider an independent candidate for United States Senate.

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.

Jenkins is fighting an uphill battle against perceived front-runner, Republican Ben Sasse, and Democrat Dave Domina. But Jenkins says Nebraska voters are looking beyond the traditional party candidates.

“We think, based on our polling, that 60-65% of Nebraskans are not hard-right or hard-left and there seems to be, as I’m out on the campaign trail, almost a sense of relief from people that they actually have somebody to vote for that reflects, is closer to, their actual values and approach in how we go out and solve problems,” according to Jenkins.

There is another independent in the race. Todd Watson also qualified for the November ballot.

All are running to succeed Sen. Mike Johanns, a Republican who is retiring from public office.