Thursday, October 24, 2013

Too Far? You're There, Nebraska.

If you're a sports fan of any kind, you've likely seen or heard the State Farm insurance company series of ads over the last couple of years, that capitalize on the "That Moment When" meme. For Nebraskans, we're definitely at one of those moments in history, as journalist Don Walton pointed out earlier this week - though frankly, many Nebraskans are still in denial about it.

What Walton noted in the Lincoln Journal-Star is a sad and disgusting fact if you're a Nebraskan who can think critically and prefers multiple worthwhile choices at the polls. Unfortunately, the question for 2014 isn't whether a Republican will replace current U.S. Senator Mike Johanns. The Nebraska Democratic Party doesn't even have a serious candidate for the 2014 U.S. Senate race. Further, even if such a candidate existed, and swept both Omaha and Lincoln, there are still enough low-information Republicans in the state overall that a Democratic candidate effectively has no chance to win statewide, at this time.

So 'That Moment' in Nebraska? It's happening right now. It's the beginning of the 2014 political circus - and Nebraska Republicans have a decision to make.

Will they choose a sane, old-fashioned, center-right, Republican to win the Senate seat - someone who actually understands the meaning of important words like "governing" and "compromise"?

Or will the second U.S. Senate seat from Nebraska go to some bat-crap crazy, neo- Confederate, Ted Cruz wannabe who's willing to do anything - ANYTHING - to get public attention and the spotlight, but couldn't govern his or her way out of a paper bag?

It may be early, but from the looks of the race so far, it appears Nebraskans seem more than willing to let extremist right-wing out-of-state political interests buy the seat and install their latest puppet, Ben Sasse. Sasse, a relative political neophyte, a Harvard and Yale graduate, and current president of Midland University picked up the endorsement of the tea-party backed Senate Conservatives Fund this week, over former Nebraska state treasurer and Navy hero, Shane Osborne. That doesn't mean Osborne would be a better candidate.

As Dave Weigel noted in Slate yesterday, both Osborne and Sasse already seem to be thinking of themselvess as Ted Cruz-like figures, though the money backers of the extreme right only seem to be treating Sasse like Cruz.

Don't think the 2014 U.S. Senate from Nebraska race will be a runaway for Sasse, though.

Not only will Karl Rove and the business wing of the GOP likely be attacking tea party extremists like Sasse. The 42-year old Fremont teabagger will also have to face three other GOP opponents, plus the newest entrant to the race, rancher Jim Jenkins.

Jenkins, a former Democratic voter in Nebraska who admits he voted for corporate shill Mitt Romney in 2012, is running as a "Non-Party" independent candidate. That just may entice some of those old-fashioned sensible moderate Nebraska Republicans who understand there is no realistic future in governing with the right-wing fanatics.

No matter who Nebraska Republicans choose to fill that seat, as Don Walton pointed out, the race for the next U.S. Senator from Nebraska effectively ends next May. So this is that moment - when most of those current Republican candidates begin acting like clowns, trying to show Nebraskans just how far to the extreme right they're willing to go to get their party's nomination.

How will Nebraskans know when these candidates have gone too far to the extreme right for common sense and good governing?

If you have to ask, you're already there.