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Ricketts warns of ‘creep of socialism’ in Nebraska; Democrats fire back
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Ricketts warns of ‘creep of socialism’ in Nebraska; Democrats fire back


All politics is local, legendary former House Speaker Tip O'Neill used to say.

But the language of U.S. politics increasingly has been nationalized and inserted into local and state politics and elections.

"We need your help to fight back against the creep of socialism in Nebraska," Gov. Pete Ricketts wrote last week in a fundraising appeal to Republicans.

"Leftists are using the initiative process in our state to push their agenda on socialized health care, marijuana legislation, expanding gambling and other issues.

"They're doing this to turn out the progressive left in an attempt to defeat Congressmen (Don) Bacon and (Jeff) Fortenberry and win the Omaha electoral vote for the likes of Elizabeth Warren or worse."

Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln, a Democrat who is serving in Nebraska's nonpartisan legislature, read the governor's message and fired back: "It is unfortunate the Republican Party is so concerned about the will of the people being contrary to their interests and values."

Nebraska voters in the November general election a year ago approved expansion of Medicaid coverage to an estimated 94,000 low-income adults; the Ricketts administration does not plan to launch the program until next October, citing the complexity of establishing a new management system.

Petitions to seek a vote on expansion of gambling and to legalize marijuana in the state are being circulated now along with proposals to provide property tax relief and limit payday-lending interest rates.

"Providing access to medical marijuana and casino gaming is the opposite of socialism, as both initiatives provide more individual liberty and less government interference into Nebraskans' personal choices and lives," Morfeld said.

"Both of these initiatives include broad coalitions of conservatives, liberals and independents," he said.

In the Legislature, the governor wrote in his fundraising appeal, "left-leaning legislators fought pro-life legislation tooth and nail, introduced restrictions on gun rights and pushed to raise taxes.

"They are building a progressive machine to hijack the future of this state and pass their far-left schemes," he stated.

In an e-mail response to the governor's message, Democratic State Chairwoman Jane Kleeb said: "Happy to see the 1st Congressional District is competitive now in the GOP's eyes."

Fortenberry represents eastern Nebraska's 1st District, which has not elected a Democratic congressman since 1964.

Bacon represents metropolitan Omaha's 2nd District, a competitive battleground that handed one of the state's five presidential electoral votes to Democratic nominee Barack Obama in 2008.

"They have used the same old scare tactics since the 1950s," Kleeb said in reaction to the governor's message.

"We are focused on winning races so working families have champions standing up for them rather than the few at the top that the Republicans are fighting for right now."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or

On Twitter @LJSdon


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