Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

Farmer, firefighter, Boys Town health care official, boutique owner announce plans to seek seats in the Legislature in 2018.

Just the way it's supposed to be.

It's a citizen legislature and variety is good.

Since the job doesn't pay much — $12,000 a year — the biggest missing ingredient always is the blue-collar worker. He and she cannot leave the job to be a state senator when the Legislature is in session for months at a time. 

Dan Quick of Grand Island may be the only senator who meets a blue collar description in terms of his work experience. He worked as a material handler, maintenance mechanic and welder at Platte Generating Station, the city's power plant.

It's far easier for the retired and the self-employed, those who can manage their own time, to serve in the Legislature. So they're well-represented.

But being a state senator requires some sacrifice even if you can afford to serve.

It can, and does, cost some successful attorneys earnings into the six figures each year, money sacrificed while they are devoting time to their public-service legislative duties. Multiply that figure by eight if a senator serves two full terms.

The Nebraska Legislature is overwhelmingly white, mostly male, more middle-aged and older than young. But it's quite a remarkable mix.

It is unburdened by partisan governance and  is essentially a citizen legislature, just like — or at least close to — what its founders may have had in mind.

So step right up; there's room for you.

* * *

Ben Sasse chose a small Rotary Club noon luncheon in York to launch his effort to shine a national spotlight on the urgent need to get serious about cyberattacks that conceivably could one day crash our financial system or our electric power supply or our transportation system.

You name it.

The United States conceivably could — my words, not Sasse's — be economically crippled without a shot being fired.

And not just by other nations or nation-states or terrorist groups, but also by international criminal syndicates that prey on individuals and businesses.

There's a reason they call it ransomware.

Two months ago in the midst of ongoing ransomware attacks in Europe and Asia, Sasse issued a statement that declared: "Cybersecurity isn't a hypothetical problem — today shows it can be life or death.  We'll likely look back at this as a watershed moment."

"We are not prepared for deterrence and/or retaliation," Sasse said during his speech at the York Rotary luncheon last week.

Nebraska has two members on the Senate Armed Services Committee and this might be an ideal time to hold that committee assignment since the focus currently has turned away from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  

Sasse became a new member of the committee this year and he has been clearly centered on intelligence and cyberwarfare.

Deb Fischer is chair of the subcommittee on strategic forces and she has been focused in recent days on her subcommittee's responsibility for oversight of the U.S. missile defense system as North Korea ramps up its intercontinental ballistic missile threat.

"I am committed to ensuring our country has an effective defense to protect our citizens from the rogue regime in Pyongyang," she said last week.

Both Fischer and Sasse serve on the subcommittee on cybersecurity.

Looks like that's the place to be.

Finishing up:

* Big fund-raiser for Gov. Pete Ricketts' re-election campaign at the Cubs-Pirates game at Wrigley Field on Sunday: Tickets for the event started at $1,000 each, with "benefactor" donors of $10,000 receiving four tickets along with a "VIP field experience."

* As Japan and Europe complete negotiation of a huge trade deal, the losses resulting from U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement begin to mount from large to enormous. Economic losses; Nebraska agricultural losses; global leadership losses.

* The Des Moines Register quoting Sasse, speaking in Nevada, Iowa, Friday night: Senate failure to repeal Obamacare would be "bad policy, it's bad politics, but it's also just fundamentally deciding that keeping your word is not something you need to take very seriously."

* Happy Birthday, Ernie!

* All-Star break, and not a minute too soon.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or

On Twitter @LJSDon.


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