Assuming you aren’t Obama himself, one of the first politicians to come to mind when one thinks of the disaster known as Obamacare is Ben Nelson (D-NE). This job-killing and regulation-creating piece of legislation crap would not be today but for Ben Nelson’s crucial 60th vote to pass it.
Going against all of the campaign rhetoric about transparency, not only did Obama not hold the health care negotiations on C-SPAN, it took a few backroom deals among the politicians from the permanent political class to get it done. As such, Ben Nelson became the recipient of a certain “Cornhusker Kickback.” This led Nelson to cast his vote where he simultaneously delivered a slap in the face to the nation’s true bipartisan answer of “No!”
Obviously, I can spend another few paragraphs highlighting other important decisions Nelson has made over his time as U.S. Senator from Nebraska, but really, do we have to go any further?
But who should the people of Nebraska replace him with?
Jon Bruning is 42. He was born in Lincoln, Nebraska and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Nebraska and later received a J.D. from the university’s Lincoln College of Law. Mr. Bruning began his political career in 1997 in the Nebraska Legislature and served until 2002 and moved on to serve as Nebraska’s Attorney General and still holds the position.
After Obamacare was passed, Bruning was one of the 13 state Attorney Generals who immediately jumped on it by leading various lawsuits against it. Since then, he remains an important leader in the states’ collective efforts to fight back.
At the surface, Bruning has what one instinctively likes in a candidate. He’s young, handsome, and is energetic in going after issues important to Americans.
Further, Bruning enjoys the endorsements of Mike Huckabee and the Tea Party Express among other lower-profile endorsers.
The questionable aspects of Bruning come from his college days as well as some ratings he received as a State Legislator.
First, in college, he wrote a scathing rebuke of conservatism. In it, he believed in a woman’s right to choose, advocated for gun control, supported affirmative action, and went on to even criticize Ronald Reagan on the issue of economics.
And while some politicians (even Reagan) proved that one can have a change of heart as they mature, Bruning received a 27% rating as a State Legislator in 2001 from Nebraska Taxpayers For Freedom. The group who rated Bruning seemed to identify with the Tea Party long before it officially formed. Their mission statement said they existed “to educate and inform Nebraskans and our elected officials that conservative free enterprise solutions exist to remedy and solve the political, economic, and social problems of our state and nation.”
So Bruning seems to prove one of two points. First, a politician can conveniently shift to what is popular in order to keep his job or to get a promotion. If not, he has evolved as a human being and has learned from experience as displayed by the later portion of his career.
It’s our job collectively to properly determine that.
You can visit his campaign page here.
You can see the video of Bruning announcing his candidacy here.
Don Stenberg is 62. Mr. Stenberg is also a native Nebraskan whose parents owned a small business. He went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Nebraska and then went on to receive an MBA from Harvard Business School as well as a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
He preceded Jon Bruning as Attorney General serving from 1991-2003 and currently serves as Nebraska’s State Treasurer.
This isn’t the first time Stenberg sought campaign-battle with Ben Nelson. He won the Republican Primary for Senate in 2000 and after beginning the race more than 30 points behind Nelson in the polls, the race finished off with Stenberg losing by only 2 points. He went on to try a second time in 2006 and lost the primary.
While Attorney General, Stenberg was well known in 2000 when he was the defendant in the federal Supreme Court case of Stenberg v. Carhart where the state of Nebraska had to defend its position to ban partial birth abortion outside of cases where the mother’s life was at risk. Back then, the courts had O’Connor and Stevens. The case was ruled in favor of Carhart.
Stenberg seems to come with a few more hefty endorsements as well. Most notably for C4P readers is the endorsement of Mark Levin. You can hear Levin’s endorsement and discussion with Stenberg here. Further, Stenberg is endorsed by FreedomWorks, Senator Mike Lee of Utah, and Ken Blackwell.
Falling in the out-of-the-box category, State Treasurer Stenberg went to the Nebraska Legislature and requested they cut his budget by 13% noticing waste.
It is true, so far there seems to be no substantial skeletons in the closet for Stenberg. But to be fair, unlike Bruning, Stenberg has never been in the State Legislature to have such a record to observe.
Nevertheless, his actions as Attorney General as well as State Treasurer show a man of strong conviction with a servant’s heart for the people.
You can view his campaign page here.
Deb Fischer is 60 years old and also attended University of Nebraska in Lincoln earning a B.S. in Education. She is a current member of the Nebraska Legislature and has held the position since 2005.
Fischer seems to embody a bit of Gov. Palin’s humble appeal. Fischer is a lifelong Nebraskan, she’s a mother of three boys, and she and her husband are ranchers in Valentine, Nebraska.
Additionally, Deb Fischer seems to have gotten involved in Government through her experience as a hardworking American. She is an active member in many local agricultural organizations seeking to benefit the hard-working people of Nebraska who man the farms which produce a lot of the things we use in our everyday lives.
Further, her other positions include sitting on the Board of Education of the local schools where her own children attended. She then went on to contribute further as President of the Nebraska Organization of School Boards.
Just reading her bio, Gov. Palin’s infamous RNC speech comes to mind about the good folks of states like Nebraska who “grow our food” and “teach our kids.” Deb Fischer doesn’t seem to be the type of person who sits around waiting for the federal government to provide more funding. She gets involved and is a leader of the American spirit in her own right.
Also, Deb Fischer’s voting record comes out overall positive. The aforementioned Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom give her a 52.8 rating (as opposed to Jon Bruning’s 27% noted above). She’s also received an A+ from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund and a score of 100 from the Nebraska National Federation of Independent Business.
She also enjoys the endorsements of 13 Nebraska State Senators as well as Former Nebraska Governor, Kay Orr.
You can watch her campaign-announcement speech here.
As you can see, she has the ammunition to be an amazing candidate. My only issue is she seems to be overly-composed in her delivery of the speech. Being composed is an honorable trait. But in order to be convincing and to inspire others, she might want to step it up a bit and deliver her well-earned and established grassroots methods with a more Palin-like conviction.
You can view her campaign web page here.
A 100% citizen candidate, Pat Flynn comes off as humble. His website for his campaign greets you by admitting past mistakes including run-ins with the law in matters regarding drugs and alcohol. While Flynn comes with a perceived lack of experience in politics, this very well could be a refreshing quality to Nebraska voters fed up with establishment corruption.
He’s 52 years old and was born and raised in a small town in Nebraska. He made his way through college at the University of Nebraska getting a degree in Agricultural Economics. He went on to start an insurance business and segued into becoming an investment adviser. As such, for nearly 30 years he ran a very successful small business.
You can see a small introduction here.
Mr. Flynn ran a very low key grassroots campaign for the 2008 Senate race and lost. This is his second time around. He has quite a few locally-produced videos available on his youtube channel. While there aren’t any voting records to vet for Mr. Flynn, I can say that the people who surround him in these videos seem to admire him a great deal and he also appears to capture them in conversation.
You can view his campaign web page here.
Spencer Zimmerman appears to be an activist-type of candidate. He is 31 years old and is an Air Force Veteran who currently works as a truck driver according to the Lincoln Journal Star. Further, he is a graduate of Business Administration from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, Mr. Zimmerman has been on the ballot many times for various offices and has not emerged successful with any of them.
According to his Facebook page, he is an advocate of the Keystone Pipeline and supported an investigation in Pakistan’s role in the possible harboring of Osama Bin Laden.
He also advocates for a unicameral legislative body on the federal level (similar to what they have in Nebraska which is not represented by two parties). He feels this is the best way to deal with the nation’s mounting debt.
Aside from his Facebook page and a few random newspaper articles, other information on him appears to be sparse.
At this time, I am very impressed that Stenberg went to the State Legislature to remove 13% from his own budget as State Treasurer just as I am humbled and inspired by Fischer’s apparent work ethic and her interest in local agricultural and educational government.
In the latest PPP poll, Jon Bruning is ahead of Nelson 46-42. Stenberg is showing ahead as well by 44-41 and Deb Fischer is barely behind Nelson at getting 39% to Nelson’s 41%.
Pat Flynn comes in on the losing end as Nelson beats him 43-36.
Spencer Zimmerman was not mentioned.
UPDATE, BRUNING CAMPAIGN RESPONDS:
In response to this piece, Mr. Trent Fellers from Jon Bruning’s campaign was nice enough to respond to the few concerns our readers and others expressed regarding Attorney General Bruning’s record as well as the records of his opponents in the primary. He provided backup and citations. In an effort to be fair and to allow for a stronger vetting process — the kind we deserve — I am sharing what he conveyed for your convenience as well.
I want to also take this opportunity to thank our readers for their brilliant analysis and vetting on these important Senate races.
Don Stenberg may claim to be cutting his budget by 14%, but in reality the budget cut was introduced by his predecessor (Shane Osborn) on September 15th, nearly 2 months before Stenberg was elected Treasurer. I know this is true because I served as Osborn’s chief of staff and was in charge of writing the budget. See the attached proposed document from 9-16-10, 3 months before Stenberg was sworn into office.
Second, Stenberg also claims to have held a flat budget as Attorney General, but in reality he ran $36 million off the books in outside counsel while running for U.S. Senate in 2000.
As for the reference to Bruning’s 27% rating as opposed to Fischer’s 52.8% rating by the Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, comparing those ratings is comparing apples to oranges. The Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom bases their ratings each year by given each bill the same weight. While Bruning earned a 27%, other conservative members of the legislature in that same year earned 25-34% ratings from that group.
Also of note to you should be a recent story about a federal subsidy that Fischer benefits from. http://www.omaha.com/article/20111023/NEWS01/710239860/1008
Jon is an avid hunter and sportsman, a life endowment member of the NRA. He also has 100% voting record on pro-life issues and supports secure borders through tough immigrations laws.
Trent Fellers, Campaign Manager
Bruning for Senate
Update II, Fischer Campaign Responds:
Thank you for covering the very important U.S. Senate race in Nebraska. In 2008, I had the great privilege of working as a regional political director for the McCain-Palin campaign. During the campaign, I saw firsthand the huge boost Governor Palin provided the ticket and how many lives she inspired. I will never forget the rally I helped manage in Colorado Springs, where over 15,000 people crammed into a minor league baseball stadium to hear Governor Palin speak. It was an amazing day!
I would prefer to use this opportunity, not to criticize our Republican opponents, but to reach out to all C4P readers who are interested in learning more about Senator Deb Fischer. She is a proven conservative leader who will beat Ben Nelson.
Here is a basic outline of Senator Fischer’s stance on the issues:
• 100% Pro-Life Voting Record in Nebraska Unicameral
• Signed the AFP “No Climate Tax” Pledge
• Signed the Let Freedom Ring “Cut, Cap and Balance” Pledge
• Supports a balanced budget amendment
• Opposed debt-ceiling compromise deal
• 100% NFIB Rating in Nebraska Unicameral
• Opposes amnesty and benefits for illegal aliens
• Signed the ATR “Taxpayer Protection” pledge
• Opposes the bailouts
• Supports the federal marriage amendment
• Supports repealing Obamacare
• Opposes earmarks
• Opposes Cap-and-Trade
• A+ NRA Rating in Nebraska Unicameral
Just like Governor Palin, Senator Fischer isn’t a career politician. She served on the school board and then as a citizen legislator in the Nebraska Unicameral where she continues to serve. Senator Fischer has a record of accomplishment since she took office.
Here are some examples of Senator Fischer’s leadership:
• Co-sponsored a bill to provide for additional voluntary and informed consents from a woman prior to abortion. (LB 675, 2009 Session)
• Co-sponsored and passed the Adopt the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. (LB 1103, 2010 Session)
• Passed the Concealed Handgun Permit Act, which allows Nebraskans to carry concealed weapons. (LB 454, 2005 Session)
• Created an apprentice hunter education exemption certificate, which allows hunters the ability to take a newcomer hunting before the completion of a hunter education course. (LB 690, 2008 Session)
• Voted against the DREAM Act of 2006, which gives amnesty and in-state tuition to illegal aliens. (LB 239, 2006 Session)
• Co-sponsored bill to repeal the DREAM Act in 2010. (LB 1001, 2010 Session)
• Passed the biggest tax relief package in Nebraska history that included reducing property taxes and eliminating the estate tax. (LB 377, 2007 Session)
• Co-sponsored a bill to decrease the size of government with a constitutional amendment to abolish the office of the State Treasurer. (LR 284 CA, 2010 Session)
• After the Kelo Supreme Court Decision, Sen. Fischer passed a priority bill to protect private property rights from eminent domain abuse. (LB 924, 2006 Session)
• She led passage of a bill that will fund new roads throughout Nebraska without raising taxes. (LB 84, 2011 Session)
As you can see, Senator Fischer has provided conservative leadership to the state of Nebraska. For her, politics is not about catchy sound bites; it’s about making policy and solving problems.
Deb Fischer for U.S. Senate