One Dem distances, others embrace party as DNC wraps up

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September 6th, 2012

Omaha, NE- The Democratic National Convention wraps up tonight with President Barack Obama making a speech. One Nebraska Democratic candidate was noticeably missing from the convention. But as one candidate distances himself, others aren’t straying too far away. Lindsey Peterson checked in with Nebraska Watchdog’s Joe Jordan for an analysis on the influence of the national party on local races.

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Lindsey Peterson: “Thank you Joe for joining me. Senate candidate Bob Kerrey said in a press conference this week that he wouldn’t be attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte [North Carolina] in part because he didn’t feel that his message to Nebraskans would be entirely welcomed at the convention, or by Republicans, for that matter.

Senate candidate Bob Kerrey (D) skipped the Democratic National Convention, instead touts his plans for bipartisanship. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

So how do you think this will be received by mostly conservative leaning Nebraska voters?”

Joe Jordan: “Well, Kerrey is trying to figure out a way to sort of run up the middle, while Deb Fischer, is in his view, is catering to the very conservative voters in Nebraska. And so Kerrey is trying to run more of a populist campaign, not siding with either party, but trying to draw votes from both. That’s what he thinks is going to be successful.

In terms of how it’s going to be received, he’s been down in the polls early, there haven’t been any recent polls, so I think Kerrey’s campaign feel they’ve found a message here that might resonate with voters–which is cooperation is what people want to see on Capitol Hill, they don’t want partisanship.

State Sen. Brenda Council, seen here at a press conference after Nebraska’s Primary Day in May, is running for re-election representing Omaha’s northeast district in the Nebraska Legislature. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

I think over the next several weeks as we get into election day, you’re going see the Kerrey campaign push this even harder that he will be bipartisan, Deb Fischer won’t be. The Fischer campaign will argue that when Kerrey was in the Senate in the past more often than not he voted with the Democratic Party.”

LP: “In a story you wrote Wednesday, Bob Kerrey calls challenger Deb Fischer the Tea Party candidate for Senate. Was that a smart move on his part? Could touting her conservative credentials backfire?”

JJ: “Well, it could backfire because it’s a conservative state. But what I think what Kerrey’s trying to say is that Deb Fischer is on the extreme side of even the conservative viewpoint in Nebraska.

Up until this week I had not heard him tie her directly to the Tea Party although she’s been endorsed by Sarah Palin and in the primary received some support from quote unquote “tea party types.” But this was the first time I heard Kerrey directly tie her name to the Tea Party, and my guess is that we’re going to see more of that.

He’s been trying to make the case that the Fischer plan for a balanced budget won’t work and will be too devastating to Nebraskans and that she has not been specific enough as to what cuts she would put in the budget. I think some of that is tough for voters to digest, but I think what the Kerrey campaign might be saying now is that by using the phrase “Tea Party” they’re going to try to make her look like an extremist doesn’t connect with everyday Nebraskans.”

LP: “State Senator Brenda Council was in attendance. How do you think the Democrats’ message is going to play in other races in Nebraska?”

JJ: “Often times Nebraska races you don’t see a lot of coattails. This state does have the ability and has a history of voting for an individual candidate. As very recently, 2008, Barack Obama, then candidate Barack Obama, wins the 2nd Congressional District and steals, in some views, that electoral vote that otherwise would’ve gone to the Republicans and John McCain.

But, at the same time, Barack Obama wins the 2nd District but Lee Terry wins re-election as the congressman for the Republicans. So there’s a history in the state of not following coattails, people will split their votes on who they think is the best individual.”

LP: “Tonight wraps up the Democratic National Convention and KVNO News along with Nebraska Watchdog’s Joe Jordan will continue to keep our eyes on the races both nationally and locally. As always, thank you for your time Joe.”

JJ: “You’re welcome. Take care, Lindsey.”

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