Nebraska Republicans have lost their bid to kick Bob Kerrey off the ballot.
Lancaster County District Judge Steven Burns has upheld Secretary of State John Gale’s ruling that Kerrey’s name will appear on the Democratic primary for United States Senate May 15th. The Nebraska Republican Party challenged the ruling, filing a federal lawsuit in Lincoln.
Judge Burns heard oral arguments during a hearing today. He issued a ruling this evening, stating that Nebraska had no constitutional authority to disqualify a candidate based on voter registration requirements. The Republican Party claimed that Kerrey should be disqualified, because he had not established residency in the state after living in New York for the past 12 years.
Kerrey left the United States Senate and Nebraska about 12 years ago to become president of the New School in New York. He first declined to run for his former post as United States Senator, then reconsidered, returned to Nebraska and registered to vote in Douglas County at the end of February. He fist listed his sister’s Omaha address for his residency. He changed the address the next day, using the address of a friend’s guest house in Omaha which he has rented.
Kerrey served as governor of Nebraska prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate. He made an unsuccessful bid for president in 1992. Democrat Ben Nelson succeeded him in the Senate. Nelson has declined to run for a third term, elected instead to retire from public office.
Kerrey Campaign manager Paul Johnson issued a written statement:
“As we have been saying all along, and as today’s decision reaffirms, Republican leaders have been trying to rig this election in their favor. The Party that claims to be opposed to frivolous lawsuits filed one yesterday, wasting both time and taxpayer dollars. In the process, they exposed the state’s worst kept secret – Republican leaders don’t want to face Bob Kerrey in a fair election. Today’s decision means they won’t be able to steal an election through underhanded tactics. The voters will decide because fair elections are the way things are done in Nebraska”
Nebraska Democratic Party Chairman Vic Covalt issued a written statement:
“Nebraska voters deserve the right to elect their own Senator. The Nebraska Republican Party tried to steal everyone’s right to vote with a lawsuit. The Nebraska Court was right to protect the vote and keep Bob Kerrey, a longtime Nebraskan, on the ballot.
The Nebraska Republican Party should be ashamed. Their leadership embarrassed every person who is a registered Republican in this state. They showed appalling hypocrisy. Apparently, they need a history lesson.
Republican Tom Osborne ran for and was elected to Congress as a Republican to present Nebraska’s 3rd District in 2000, 2002 and 2004. Tom Osborne lived in the 1st District, Lincoln to be exact, for 38 years. Republican Chuck Hagel ran for the United States Senate after being out of Nebraska for 20 years. Nebraska Republican officials never raised legal questions on residency or called Tom Osborne or Chuck Hagel a carpetbagger.
Bob Kerrey is a Nebraskan. He served as our Governor for one term and as a United States Senator for two terms. He is and always will be a Nebraskan and as we do with all our sons and daughters who move back, we Nebraskans welcome Bob back with open arms. It’s the Nebraska Way. “
Now let’s move on to what Republican leaders fear the most: an honest election on the issues.”