Don Walton: McCoy money shakes up governor race

2013-09-15T21:00:00Z 2013-11-17T12:35:04Z Don Walton: McCoy money shakes up governor raceBy DON WALTON / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

It's going to be an ugly week.

But I digress; this is a political column. Mostly.

Sid Dinsdale joins the Republican Senate race on Monday and Annette Dubas will formally jump into the Democratic gubernatorial contest before the month is over.

And, at some point, presumably the Democrats will find a Senate candidate.

With not much chance of winning a Senate seat in Nebraska next year, perhaps 2014 could be a year for Democrats to state their case, tackle the issues, propose solutions, provide the alternative voice, talk policy and not personality, and build for the future.

That would require an articulate voice, not just a name to fill the open space on the ballot.  

Obviously, the most action is going to center on the scrap for governor.

And the developing multi-candidate Republican scramble seems to become more intriguing every week or two.

Charles Herbster's sudden transfer of about $860,000 in campaign resources — a gift-wrapped load of cash and paid-for campaign services — to Beau McCoy on Friday was a stunner. 

The transfer of $265,000 in pre-paid consulting services will be challenged in a formal complaint to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, but the $594,000 in cash goes to McCoy unchallenged.

That early supply of money instantly made McCoy a player, though the overall edge in the five-candidate Republican scrap probably remains with Pete Ricketts and Mike Foley.

McCoy's legislative colleagues, Charlie Janssen and Tom Carlson, won't enjoy the same advantage he has just snared. 

This looks like a race a political science class might want to follow as a project. Lots at play here.

Ricketts comes in with a potential self-funding advantage, which he is determined not to rely on, and some fallout from the 2006 Senate race when Ben Nelson's campaign defined him in negative terms before he could introduce himself.  

Foley has the advantage of being a highly visible government spending hawk and staunchly pro-life social conservative, but he may be put on the defensive for his pro-life opposition to the death penalty and support for legislation that would fund prenatal care services for the children of mothers who may be in the country illegally.

And he might have some funding challenges, though it's too early to know.

McCoy will be tagged for introducing Gov. Dave Heineman's 2013 legislative tax package, which contained provisions wiping out an array of sales tax exemptions for agriculture and businesses. Last week, McCoy said he no longer supports elimination of those exemptions as part of a restructuring of the state's tax system.

If the Republican vote splinters in all directions, don't count Janssen out. He's claimed ownership of gun rights and opposition to benefits for illegal immigrants.

Remember this is a statewide Republican primary election that is likely to be dominated largely by 3rd Congressional District voters in western and central Nebraska.

Heineman is an interesting wild card. The governor and Foley are at odds over Foley's high-profile audits and ensuing sharp criticism of the Department of Health and Human Services as it has been managed by the Heineman administration.

Already, the governor has turned an early spotlight on the death penalty, pointing to a series of killings in Omaha and arguing for its retention.

* * *

Not a pleasant week ahead in Huskerland.

The air went out of the balloon at the stadium on Saturday. 

For awhile, with the Huskers leading 21-3 and dominating, it looked like this was the breakthrough we have been waiting for. Finally. At last.

The stadium was ecstatic, absolutely joyful. At the end, it was sullen and silent, appropriately clad in black.

I am not going to read the blogs or online comments, but I can imagine what they're saying. Some of it spills over into Twitter.

Getting blown out like that in Lincoln, especially after 21-3, is a whole lot different than getting blown out in Columbus or Madison or Indianapolis.

Ugly week ahead.

Finishing up

* An extensive article in the current New Yorker on President Barack Obama and the Keystone XL pipeline concludes that the president's decision on whether to approve the project may go either way. Leon Panetta, who knows him well, says 50-50.

* Perls of Knowledge will deliver his state of the university address to a UNL campus audience on Tuesday.

* In a single line at Starbucks early one morning last week were a Rays fan, a Yankee fan, an Orioles fan and a Royals fan. Exactly in wild card reverse order at the time.

* Yanks at Wrigley next year. Tough ticket: May 20-21. 

* None of my business, but there were a couple of guys on the field for awhile Saturday that might be helpful to a coaching staff and team that we want to succeed. If I were them, I'd ask Tom and Charlie McBride: What do you see?

Reach Don Walton at 402-473-7248 or at dwalton@journalstar.com.

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