TAMPA, Fla. -- Although Gov. Dave Heineman may be the de facto leader of the Nebraska Republican Party, Mark Fahleson has been its voice, and during his tenure as state chairman, he’s moved into an active role within the national party.
For the past two weeks, Fahleson has filled national party assignments in determining delegate contests, credentials and rules at meetings in Washington and Tampa.
And now, he’s preparing to step down as state party chairman next spring.
And that will remove him from his seat on the Republican national committee.
But Fahleson hopes to continue to play a national role.
“I’d like to remain in some capacity,” he said during an interview Monday as he helped shepherd Nebraska’s national convention delegates to events in Tampa and St. Pete’s Beach.
The election of a new Republican national chairman may open up some new opportunities, including a biggie he has eye on.
“I aspire to be general counsel of the Republican national committee,” Fahleson said.
“I would jump at it.”
A Lincoln attorney whose legal skills have placed him on committees that essentially amount to legal disputes -- the committee on delegate contests dealt with evidence, legal research and written opinions -- Fahleson would oversee law firms that deal with party business if he should land the position of general counsel.
That would require periodic trips to Washington, but Fahleson would continue his law practice and remain in Lincoln.
Fahleson had planned to seek a four-year term as national committeeman at the party’s state convention in Grand Island in July. But a grassroots move by the Nebraska Liberty Caucus to elect national convention delegates pledged to Ron Paul and replace Fahleson with a new state chairman who had not been endorsed by Heineman was a game-changer.
So, instead of leaving the state chairmanship before the end of his term, Fahleson agreed to remain, thus heading off the battle over state party leader.
Omaha attorney David Kramer, a former state chairman, was elected to the national committee post, succeeding Pete Ricketts, who had decided to step down at the end his term. Kramer will replace Ricketts at the conclusion of the national convention Thursday.
Fahleson is pleased with the early work of the national convention, including a party platform that has engendered some outside criticism for its sharply conservative nature.
“It’s important for the party to express its core principles on issues of the day,” he said.
“We don’t expect candidates to read the platform after their morning prayers. I think 80 percent to 90 percent agreement is all we expect.”
Fahleson may be within striking range of accomplishing the goal he always has had in front of him as state chairman -- turning Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson’s Senate seat into a Republican seat.
GOP Senate nominee Deb Fischer is running ahead of Democratic nominee Bob Kerrey in all the polls.
“We had a laser-like focus on Nelson after he voted for Obamacare,” Fahleson said.
“If all goes well and as planned, we will capture all statewide offices, all congressional seats and have a supermajority in the non-partisan Legislature.
“That would be a nice time to go out as chair.