Some question whether Jane Kleeb is the right person to lead Nebraska Democrats.
This is part four in Nebraska Radio Network’s series produced in collaboration with HuffPost.
Nebraska Republican national committeeman J. L. Spray questions whether one-issue advocacy can translate into a broader political party message.
“So, when she speaks, is she speaking for the Democrats and their platform that’s been established over a hundred years or is she speaking for Bold Nebraska, which is one subject matter basically Keystone, issue?” Spray asks during an interview with Nebraska Radio Network and HuffPost.
Spray sees a conflict of interest with Kleeb as chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party. Spray says it is too early to assess her effectiveness, but he says to be effective Kleeb must recruit good candidates and register voters. Spray, a former chair of the Nebraska Republican Party, says that is the nitty gritty of running a party, what he calls the tough, elbow grease work.
Kleeb has heard the criticism about having divided loyalties, but points out the chair position is voluntary. She needs an income and so she keeps the Bold Nebraska position. Kleeb adds she is no stranger to hard work and long days, saying she works well into the evening on party business.
Other concerns have surfaced about Kleeb’s leadership, though.
Attorney Dave Domina, the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for United States Senate in 2014, says it might be difficult for Kleeb to unite a divided party.
“Jane’s not a unifier,” Domina states in an interview. “She is a leader and she will lead in the direction she wants to go at the expense of unifying people. And for the kinds of movements she’s worked on that’s been absolutely necessary.”
The Hillary Clinton – Bernie Sanders split comes up when discussing Kleeb’s leadership. Kleeb supported Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary and has worked hard to assure Clinton supporters she supports all Nebraska Democrats.
Still, former Nebraska Democratic Party Executive Director Paul Landow, now a University of Nebraska – Omaha political science professor, says Kleeb made a big mistake by bringing Sanders to Omaha to campaign for mayoral candidate Heath Mello.
“I think she’s not a very good choice to lead the party and I think the Bernie Sanders’ fiasco illustrated that point,” Landow tells Nebraska Radio Network and HuffPost in an interview.
While Landow gives Kleeb credit for a so-far successful campaign against Keystone XL. He adds though that Kleeb doesn’t have experience in recruiting candidates and or in Omaha, which is the main source of support and money for Nebraska Democrats. Landow says Kleeb is ill-suited to be chair of the party.
Tomorrow, we wrap up with a look ahead to the 2018 elections.
Eliot Nelson of HuffPost contributed to this article.
Click here for part one: Will fight against Keystone XL lead to victories for Democrats in 2018?
Click here for part two: Omaha political rally reveals split among Nebraska Democrats.
Click here for part three: Is a Nebraska Democrat a different type of Democrat?
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1:15]