Seven contenders vie for Nebraska governor’s seat
December 20th, 2013
Omaha, NE – The race for Nebraska’s next Governor has been building up a head of steam recently.[audio:http://www.kvnonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/final-.mp3]
With less than six months remaining before primaries there are now seven official candidates. Paul Landow, Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said with the primary being held in May 2014, the time to pick and choose a candidate is a lot closer than many think.
“It is right around the corner, and these days with the cost of the campaigns and the level of sophistication involved the candidates gear up quite a ways in advance sometimes a year and a half,” Landow said. “So (it is) not unusual to see all this activity at this point.”
Recently, Nebraska State Senator Annette Dubas, a registered Democrat, withdrew her name from consideration for her party’s nomination. Last week, Omaha tax attorney Bryan Slone, a registered Republican, decided that he wanted to enter the Republican race. Slone, who worked on the Tax Reform Act of 1986 under President Ronald Reagan, has been employed in the private sector in Omaha for the past twenty years. He says he is planning to run on the conservative principles of free markets, personal freedom and accountability.
That’s according to a political ad on his website:
“If we work together, if we have a vision for the future and we just set about to make it happen,” Slone said. “I believe I have the kind of government and business leadership as well as the vision to lead Nebraska to even greater things in the coming years. Together we’ll build on Governor Heinemann’s success and we’ll create a better future for our children and make a great state, even greater.”
Landow said because of the number of declared candidates seeking the nomination Slone may have put his name forward too late.
“He is clearly a solid Omaha business leader and (he is) well qualified, so that isn’t the issue,” Landow said. “The question is has he gotten in too late with too little name ID and how (he) has to run up against a number of much better established candidates.”
Landow said he considers Republican’s Pete Ricketts and Mike Foley as the top two contenders currently in the Republican race. Ricketts is the former Chief Operations Officer of TD Ameritrade and a board member of the Chicago Cubs. Landow pointed to Ricketts strong support from the business community in Omaha, as well as his ability to self-fund his race, as two big reasons why he is a front runner.
Foley, Nebraska’s Auditor of Public Accounts, has built a strong base with socially conservative members of the Republican Party, Landow said. Foley is taking a big risk as he won’t be permitted to run for re-election to his current post if he loses in his bid for governor.
Landow said a potential dark horse in the race is Republican State Senator Tom Carlson.
“Running up against two people (Foley and Ricketts) with strong name ID, plenty of money and already identified state-wide political bases so it’s tough,” Landow said. “But Senator Carlson is well regarded and definitely in the hunt.”
Landow said two other Republican state senators from Nebraska, Charlie Janssen and Beau McCoy are also in the race. Landow notes that the age and a lack of experience for both Janssen and McCoy as reasons why they might be at a disadvantage against the other, better known candidates with more experience under their belt. But he said because there are so many names in the hat for Governor, a smaller slice of the pie could go on to win the nomination depending on how fractured the final vote is.
So far, only one declared Democrat is in the race for Nebraska Governor – Chuck Hassebrook. Landow calls Hassebrook’s overall chances at winning the General Election ‘extremely difficult, but not impossible,’ noting that Ben Nelson was the last Democrat elected governor in Nebraska.
Landow said because the former University of Nebraska Regent is the only Democrat in this race, he will likely win the Democratic primary in May and face off against the winner of the crowded, and potentially divided, Republican ticket in November.
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