Sen. Suzanne Geist

Lincoln Sen. Suzanne Geist was among senators Tuesday to call for Bill Kintner to resign. Other freshman senators followed.

ERIC GREGORY, Journal Star

Freshman Sen. Suzanne Geist of Lincoln had not planned to speak at all.

But as the Tuesday morning debate had just begun to flash across the legislative floor like an approaching thunderstorm with no certainty how it would end, she pushed the button at her desk seeking recognition.

"I stand in solidarity with my sisters in the Legislature," Geist said during a brief floor speech, and "I ask him to step down."

Geist, a registered Republican and first-year senator, had stepped forward before it was safe, before the established conservatives and Republicans in the Legislature had begun to line up one by one to publicly ask Sen. Bill Kintner, a conservative Republican colleague, to resign.

Only Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, an independent non-partisan, and Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln, a Democrat, had stood to call for Kintner's resignation before Geist arose to speak.

Pansing Brooks quickly saluted her courage. 

"There was no joy in it," Geist said late Wednesday afternoon during an interview in her legislative office. "I just felt it needed to be said.

"I made this call on my own without factoring in whether it would be politically good for me or not. It was just a sense that it was the right thing to do."

There comes "a time when it's appropriate to speak, even saying the hard things," she said. 

"But I feel sorry for Kintner and for his wife and I'm sorry this has dragged on this long."

Geist won election last November to the Legislature, succeeding Kathy Campbell and stepping into the 25th District seat that has been represented by a legendary line of senators: Jerry Warner, Ron Raikes, Campbell.

"I felt I was doing what I was elected to do," Geist said as she sat across a table toward the end of her 15th legislative day.   

"And that's who I am.

"Whether it was a good political move or not, I dismissed that thought. I decided to do what I felt in my heart."

Geist, a self-described conservative Republican with family values, said her first-year game plan has always been to "listen, watch, learn as much as I can" while building relationships with her colleagues.

It certainly was not to "dive in like this," she said.

"Senator Kintner and I agree on many issues," Geist said.

"And I don't in any sense think that I don't have faults of my own. None of us is perfect. And that was my difficulty. That was my conflict. I don't speak from a position of being a perfect individual."

Geist has three children, including one daughter, and five grandchildren, including three granddaughters.  

Yes, she said, that's part of the reason she spoke up, but not all of it.

"We all have times when we're not using appropriate judgment, and that could be a male or a female problem. We're all guilty of some of that. But the problem, and the pattern, is more frequent with some.

"What we think in the bottom of our heart is the right thing to do and it has to go beyond politics," Geist said.  

"Even when it's not an easy thing to do." 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

 

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Political reporter

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

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