Showing posts with label Senator Rich Pahls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Senator Rich Pahls. Show all posts

Thursday, May 23, 2013

2013 Elections: A Primary Politics 101 Lesson -- Patrick McPherson

There is one very important issue to be learned from the recent Omaha mayoral, council and Omaha School Board elections: You do not win an election over an incumbent if you do not have an emotional issue as to why that incumbent needs to be replaced. The recent election was a classic case of this axiom.

Under normal circumstances there would have been absolutely no reason to believe that a Democratic mayor would not have won re-election in Omaha. The demographics of Omaha have been changing in the favor of the Democrats for the last 20 years. The percentage of Democrat voter registrations has increased. The percentage of non-partisan registrations has increased. And, the percentage of Republican registrations has decreased. As of April 12, 2013, there were 251,888 registered voters in the City of Omaha proper. There were 104,709 Democrats, 56,500 non-partisans, 983 Libertarians and 89,444 Republicans. In other words 41.57% Democrats and only 35.5% Republicans, a difference of 15,265 in favor of the Democrats. Interestingly, this has occurred even with many West Omaha annexations over the years. Omaha is simply becoming a more urbane city following the examples of those larger metropolitan cities on the east and west coasts.

Given the ability of the Democratic Party to get out the vote in recent elections (Fahey, Suttle 2009 and the recall of 2011) there is no way that Jim Suttle should have lost re-election. But he did, and that was because of the emotional issues that had built up under his tenure--the SUV lease, 15% property tax increase, a new restaurant tax, a new occupation tax, secret raises, a seemingly arrogant attitude, etc., etc.). Suttle, because of those emotional issues, couldn't rally his base and angered West Omahans who in several recent elections took the election of a Republican mayor as a given and chose not to show up.

The emotional issue also worked in the election of Aimee Melton to District 7 Omaha City Council, although the emotions showed up in the primary where an inept, non-responsive, arrogant appointed Tom Mulligan took the blame for voting for the same things that brought Suttle down. In Mulligan's case he could only get 20.9% of the vote in the primary.

To a certain extent newly elected Councilman Pahls benefited from the same axiom. Although not technically an incumbent, Pahls only 4 months earlier ended his 8 year service as a state senator. He had done nothing during his tenure to raise emotional issues or appear out of step with his constituency. A new challenger simply couldn’t raise emotional reasons to not elect Pahls.

For the other City Council incumbents, Festersen, Gernandt, Jerram and Gray, there simply weren’t the one or two emotional issues that separated them from their council constituencies. Yes, with the exception of Festersen, they voted for the tax increases, but given the much greater Democrat demographics of their districts, there simply weren't the emotional issues to replace them. Nor were their opponents of sufficient quality and wherewithal to reach those voters.

In one council race, the challenger, Ed Truemper, worked as hard as anyone could. But his opponent provided no emotional issue to replace him. Pete Festersen, a likely future candidate for mayor himself, voted against the mayor's tax increases. He did virtually nothing to alienate himself from his voting constituents. Truemper never stood a chance--there was no emotional issue.

The Omaha Public School Board elections, on the other hand, were a classic example of the "throw-the-bums-out" mentality based on real and emotional issues. Rife with emotional issues, there are six new faces on the board. Justin Wayne, an incumbent who stirred the pot over the status quo, was re-elected but there was no emotional issue to replace him. Only Marian Fey and Sarah Brumfield survived the house-cleaning, both perhaps by virtue of the inability of their opponents to connect with voters and use the emotional issues to win.

This election was a Politics 101 lesson for both those candidates and those campaign managers who chose to ignore Rule No. 1: You do not win an election over an incumbent if you do not have an emotional issue as to why that incumbent needs to be replaced.

While it is important for both parties to recruit and challenge those running for re-election, even in so-called non-partisan elections, it would be wise to keep in mind Rule No. 1. The best opportunity to elect an individual to any office comes when that office is open, there is no incumbent running, or when there are real, substantial and emotional issues that connect with the voters.


Patrick McPherson is a frequent contributor to the Objective Conservative. He is a political consultant, a former election commissioner and member of Mayor Hal Daub’s cabinet and has a background in banking.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Heineman Speaks Out on Taxes, Medicaid and Schools

Yesterday we spoke of Governor Heineman's appearance before the Monday Republican Luncheon group.   We actually failed to note that this luncheon which is normally attended by about 35 to 40 individuals had a room-full approaching 100.  So Heineman remains very popular.

The Governor addressed three issues in his comments to the group: taxes, Medicaid and Schools.    On taxes he stressed that Nebraska is the 35th highest in the nation on income taxes and that things have changed since the 1960s when the last major renovation of taxes had happened in Nebraska.   He noted that it was time to re-look why the state taxes the way it does.   He gave several glaring discrepancies of how sales tax exemptions work.  For instance, the Union Pacific established a cafeteria for its employees which some folks from outside eat in.   Everyone who frequents that cafeteria has to pay sales tax on their food purchases.   But if one works at hospital and eats or just stops and eats at its cafeteria he/she pays no sales taxes.   Heineman also noted that while other printed materials are charged a sales tax none is assessed on newspapers such as the Omaha World-Herald.  Complimenting Senator Rich Pahls, an advocate for sales tax exemption elimination and a candidate for Omaha City Council who was in the audience, Heineman said it was time to change the sales tax exemptions and get about lowering or eliminating Nebraska's income tax.    

On the subject of Medicaid, the Governor continued his assertion that Nebraska simply can't afford the expansion, even if the federal government pays 100% the first three years and 90% thereafter.   And the Governor obviously doesn't take the government's word that the 90% is carved in stone in future years.   Beyond that, Heineman declared that the expansion of Medicaid was nothing more than the full implementation of Obamacare.   And, Heineman said that the Republicans from the Douglas/Sarpy areas were on board with him with the exception of Senator Krist whom Heineman said had joined liberal Democrats like Senator Nordquist in support of the expansion.   When asked in a question later from the audience as to whether the Medicaid issue is done with for the legislative session Heineman said he wouldn't be willing to suggest that until the end of the session on June 5th.

Heineman also spoke on the issue of education in Nebraska saying he still isn't satisfied with results in English and Math.

With 100 or so folks present, it seemed that Heineman was indeed talking to the choir.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

No Need for May Genral Election: The Fat Lady Has Sung

It's a shame that Omahans will have to even foot the cost of another election in May.   The Fat Lady has already sung.

Jim Suttle is dead meat.   No way he can overcome the disaster he experienced last night.   It might have been one thing had he been close to Stothert, but he wasn't and with 43% of the vote going to either Ashford or the other two Republicans, it would take a miracle for Suttle to win.   On top of that, virtually all those who gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to everybody other than Suttle will now reassess and know that they need to get behind Stothert so an incumbent with money will be no problem for Stothert.  The fat lady has sung.

Suttle will claim that Democrat turnout will change the May results but don't count on a turnout of more than 40% in that election.  About 24% turned out in this primary, so again, the fat lady has sung.

One other thing: When an incumbent or challenger is in trouble they have to go negative to win.   Well we saw how well that worked for the guys that took on Stothert, didn't we?    So all Suttle can do is try to get his voters out and get his union friends to come aboard what will ultimately be a sinking ship.   Again, the fat lady has sung.

In the council races, there is good and bad news but the election is over.   The bad news is that there will be only three Republicans on the Omaha City Council which makes Stothert's election all the more important since Democrats will continue to control the council.    The good news is that Thompson will have two newcomers to join with him, Pahls and Melton, after May 14.   Festersen, Gray, Jerram and Gernandt sadly will get re-elected.  The fat lady has sung.  

Yes, there will be some sorting out in the Omaha Public School Board elections and we will have more to say on that but for all purposes and intents the big races have already been decided.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pahls a Worthy Candidate For City Council

Our staff has been busy so we apologize for our late coverage of former Nebraska State Senator Rich Pahls' announcement for the Omaha City Council.   Pahls made his official announcement on Saturday January 19 at 10:00 a.m. at the Rockbrook Garden Cafe where he spoke to an audience of about 40 supporters.

Pahls is a two-term Nebraska State Senator who just left the legislature due to term limits.    He chaired the legislature's Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee and has been a long-time supporter of reviewing sales tax exemptions and is probably more knowledgeable of the status of those than the governor who is proposing changes to them in hope of eliminating personal and corporate income taxes.  Pahls had a 30 year career in the Millard School District.

At this point Pahls has no competitors for his District 5 City Council seat which will replace Jean Stothert who is running for mayor.

We can think of no one more qualified to serve the citizens of Omaha.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Murante Bound for Legislature

We've noted the outstanding non-incumbent fundraising effort of Mike Hilgers who is running against incumbent Ken Haar for Legislature (in Lincoln) and the effort of Acela Turco who has also done an outstanding job of raising funds to take the place of retiring State Senator Rich Pals in Legislative District 31.   These are both conservatives whose efforts should terrify their incumbent and any non-incumbent challengers.
Another conservative who has done a great job putting together a campaign and funding it is John Murante.

Murante, like Turco, started the year with zero funds.    During the year he raised $32,151.49, spent $6,153.43 and finished with $25,998.21 in the bank.   At this point, Murante has no opponent and any token one that the liberals/progressives/Democrats will come up with to fill this new Sarpy County legislative seat is going to have one tough time. 

While Murante's list of prominent individual donors isn't nearly as long as that of Turco's, his list includes such as: Matt Butler ($1145), Pete Ricketts ($2,500).   Somehow we suspect a trip to some of Turco's donors could/well reveal some low hanging fruit ripe for the picking.  

On the business side, Murante has done a formidable job: Senator John Nelson (Murante's boss), $500; Nebraska PAC, $1600; Nebraska Realtors, $500; Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, $545; Nebraska Bankers, $644; Chiropractors of Nebraska PAC, 544; A T & T, $500, Cox Communications, $1,044; NE Telecommunications Association, ($1000); Radcliff (Walt) & Associates, $644;

To augment his campaign and showing belief in his candidacy, Murante has also lent his campaign $7,356.55.   We don't think he'll have any trouble getting that back come next year.   Our bet in Murante's case is we'll be calling him Mr. Senator next year.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Acela Turco: A Strong Candidate for Legislative District 31

We've pretty well covered the local candidates on their fund raising activities over the last year highlighting the low and the high efforts.   We also recently looked at the efforts of Mike Hilgers who is running for legislature against incumbent Ken Haar in Lincoln.  Hilgers has done an outstanding job but what about the other local legislative candidates seeking first time election in the area?  

Acela Turco is seeking to take up the reigns on Rich Pals' Legislative District Seat 31.    Pals is term limited so this is an open seat in southwest Omaha.   Turco is working actively and has the support of Governor Heineman and the Republican State Party.  She has done a solid job of raising money.   Starting with nothing, she raised $27,600 during the year, spent $7482.84 and ended the year with $20,932.   Not bad at this point.  Not bad at all.

Among the better known donors for Turco are: Kyong Bohn ($2500), former State Senator Kermit Brashear ($500), Matt Butler ($500), Larry Courtnage ($500), Hal Daub ($500), Sid Dinsdale ($500), State School Board Member Robert Evnen ($250), Michael Faust (($500), Secretary of State John Gale ($500), Bernice Grewcock ($500),
Michael Jensen ($500), former U.S. Senator David Karnes ($250), Pete Ricketts ($1000), Gail Robertson ($250), John Orr ($250), Mike Simmons ($1000) and Michael Yanney ($500).    Not too shabby....

Turco also got some decent help from some businesses including: Anheuser-Busch Companies ($500), Big Red Companies ($250), Cizek Homes ($500), Cox Communications ($635), Eli Lilly & Company ($250), H & H Chevrolet (($500), Independent Technologies ($1000), Kutak Rock ($250), Radcliff (Walt) & Associates ($350), West Corporation ($500), Governor Heineman Committee ($500), Nebraska Chamber of Commerce PAC ($535.00), Jean Stothert ($250) and the Nebraska Realtors PAC ($1000) just to name a few. 

Given Turco's campaign funding, her energy level and her planning effort, it's hard to imagine that she will face serious competition.   We suspect we will be calling her Madam Senator come next January.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Let's tax Soda Pop

Yes, we said that.   Why not tax soda pop? It's food isn't it? Well sort of.   Like coffee, tea and other beverages,  like orange juice and shakes.  

Yes, we think it might be a good idea to tax soft drinks.   But not because of Senator Bill Avery's tax and spend nanny state mentality.    Taxing soft drinks because they aren't good for you isn't the reason to tax these beverages.   Taxing soft drinks because you want the revenue to establish an anti-obesity program isn't a good reason to tax them.   Taxing soft drinks because you want to change some one's eating habits isn't a good reason to tax them.  

On the other hand, not taxing soft drinks because the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association and the Nebraska Beverage Associations are against doing so isn't a reason to not tax such beverages.   Taxing soft drinks because some 'hire-for-dollars' lobbyist like John Lindsay (who, incidentally is pocketing thousands of Omaha taxpayer dollars for trying to add a half-cent to their sales tax) says it's a bad idea is not a reason to to not tax these drinks

Those reasons mentioned above are neither valid reasons to or not to tax soft drinks.   So why would we tax soft drinks?   We would tax soft drinks (we'd also add the unrelated entity known as newspapers) and we'd tale the estimated $11.3 million of revenue and use it to reduce Nebraska's state income tax by exactly that amount by adjusting it's uncompetitive tax rates.    It probably wouldn't be much of a reduction but it would be a start in the right direction.  

Nebraska's income tax rates are too high.   They need to be lowered.  That can only be done by achieving revenue surpluses (not likely in near future) or by cutting programs (again, not very likely in the near future, but certainly desirable) or by shifting between tax sources which in this case we support.  

Senator Pahls has already published a list of literally hundreds of sales tax exemptions in state code.   Some of those are necessary to encourage commerce, to not-create what is  essentially double taxation.  Many aren't.

So to get to the bottom line, so to speak, Senator Avery's LB 753 is a stupid, loony, nanny-state, tax and spend idea.   But removing the soft-drink sales tax exemption might just make sense if the additional revenue was used to reduces Nebraska's high income tax rates.

P.S..  We are thinking about establishing a special award category for Senator Avery given his two-day display of doofus ideas.   Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Senator Rich Pahls Gravely Ill

Apparently there is a media blackout on this, but, StateSenator Rich Pahls of Omaha is gravely ill. He had a major health episode on Friday while in his office in Lincoln. As we understand it, he is gravely ill. The family has apparently tried to keep a lid on this, but given that he is an elected official we are very surprised the news media has failed to pursue this issue.