August 22, 2014

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.

GOP Senate candidate Sasse rejects frontrunner status

Ben Sasse

Ben Sasse

Republican Ben Sasse claims he’s running his campaign for United States Senate as if he is trailing in the polls.

But, he isn’t.

A smattering of public opinion polls have been taken of the campaign to succeed Sen. Mike Johanns, a Republican who has decided to leave public office after the end of this term. Those polls indicate Sasse is up in the race against Democrat Dave Domina, and up big according to some polls.

The race received early attention when Republicans chose Sasse in a crowded primary field, favoring the Midland University president over former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale, and Omaha attorney Bart McLeay.

Sasse says he capitalized on his Republican primary win by traveling the state, listening to voters.

“We worked really hard in the primary,” Sasse tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We were blessed to ultimately win 92 of 93 Nebraska counties and I think that was a direct function of our listening tours and the way we pounded the pavement and listened to Nebraskans all across this state,”

Sasse claims he isn’t paying any attention to the polls, even those that give him a commanding lead in the race.

“Oh, I mean, we run like we’re behind,” Sasse replies when asked about the polls. “We want to listen to Nebraskans. I’m not a politician. I’ve never run for office before. I just believe in the American idea. I believe in the American dream and I believe in growing more opportunity for everybody and Nebraska values and the Nebraska work ethic need to be celebrated.”

The race also features two independent candidates: Jim Jenkins and Todd Watson.

Sasse says he welcomes them into the ring.

“I think there’s a great opportunity to unpack a lot of issues when you have more voices in the conversation,” Sasse says. “So, I’m glad that we have a diversity of opinions in these conversations and we’ve stood on the side of, for all the debates, all the candidates should be included. We should include more people and hope the civic engagement process of the voters of Nebraska is also enhanced by hearing more voices in the conversation.”

Domina and Sasse see economics differently (AUDIO)

The two main candidates for United States Senate have very different economic outlooks.

Democrat Dave Domina says he has big differences with Republican Ben Sasse.

“I think the first and foremost one is that Mr. Sasse sees an America that’s dominated by very, very few people. They make the money. They control the business. They have the opportunities,” Domina tells Nebraska Radio Network. “I see an America that’s shared by nearly everyone.”

Domina charges that Sasse cares more about Wall Street than Main Street; that the money flowing into his campaign comes from those who would privatize Social Security and Medicare. He says Sasse favors an economy that rewards consolidation over competition.

Sasse claims it’s hard to respond to the charge.

“I don’t really understand a lot of those bizarre charges that he keeps leveling at these town halls that really have no connection to any of our policy views,” Sasse tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Sasse counters he wants opportunity for all through fewer regulations and more certainty from Washington.

“Obviously, the people who have capital that they could invest in businesses would love to be investing in those businesses,” according to Sasse. “They just don’t understand the rules of the road, because they keep shifting and switching on them.”

Sasse says the federal government can create a framework for business growth through regulating in a smart and lean way, allowing the private sector to create jobs.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]

Anti-gambling group pleased Supreme Court will decide horse racing issue

An anti-gambling group is thrilled the state Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether voters will indeed decide the issue of historic horse racing.

The legislature failed to overcome a gubernatorial veto previously and this year by-passed the governor and placed the issue on the ballot.

Gambling with the Good Life first took its objection to Secretary of State John Gale. When Gale refused to throw the measure off the November ballot, the group filed a lawsuit, claiming the measure violates the constitutional restriction that ballot measures be confined to one subject.

The Nebraska Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. It has scheduled oral arguments for August 27th.

“We’re delighted, because we believe that once they hear all the facts that this proposal, this paragraph, clearly violates the constitution,” Gambling with the Good Life Executive Director Pat Loontjer tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “It is not single subject. It asks two questions, at least two questions, and that’s unfair to the voter.”

Loontjer claims the measure contains two issues, because it asks voters to approve a new form of gambling and also asks voters to decide how revenue from that form of gambling should be spent. Gale had agreed it was a close call, but determined they were closely enough related to pass constitutional muster.

The issue asks that voters approve authorization of so-called historic horse racing, previously run races with enough detail obscured to disguise the outcome. Bettors place wages on the races replayed on video machines. Backers hope they will generate enough money at the state’s five licensed tracks to save the state horse racing industry.

Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this report.

Rand Paul makes stop to support Sasse, before campaigning in Iowa

United States Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky made a brief stop in Nebraska, before beginning a three-day campaign swing through Iowa [read the Radio Iowa story here].

Paul stopped in Omaha to support the Senate campaign of fellow Republican Ben Sasse.

Paul took a few questions during his side trip to Nebraska, addressing the crisis developing along the southern border in which tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have left Central America and entered the United States illegally.

Paul says a Pew Poll a year ago shows 700-million people want to live in the U-S but they can’t come all at once.

“I think if the president acts unilaterally in a dramatic fashion He is going to open a powder keg in this country,” according to Paul, who adds if President Barack Obama grants status to 5-million people without legislative authority he is overstepping his bounds.

“That happened in England in around 1500 and we’ve been fighting for 500 years to say the executive doesn’t legislate,” Paul states.

Paul says Obama should encourage American values and accept the Constitution’s separation of powers.

It was Paul’s first trip to Nebraska.