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From the New Nebraska Network:

Looking at the map objectively for Nebraska's nonpartisan, unicameral legislature, there are probably four top-tier races that should be on every Nebraska progressive's radar in the 2012 election.  Three of these are open seats where we are well-positioned to replace a term-limited conservative State Senator with a hard-working moderate who can be trusted to lead with compassion and common sense - Kate Bolz in Lincoln's District 29, Rick Kolowski in Omaha's District 31, and Sue Crawford in the Bellevue-area's District 45.

The lone incumbent in this top tier is State Senator Ken Haar in Lincoln/Lancaster County's District 21 - a crucial voice we can't afford to lose who's only in any jeopardy because his transplanted opponent's ties to powerful special interests and SuperPACS suggest this race could get ugly in a hurry.

However, voters of every political stripe appreciate that it's Senator Haar who's single-most responsible for Nebraskans having any say at all in the siting of the Keystone XL pipeline.  For or against the pipeline - for or against any of its proposed routes - it was Haar who refused to let the silence, inaction and empty posturing of our other elected officials be the final word for the entire state.  That courage may have earned Haar some powerful enemies who'd like nothing more than to see him defeated, but it's also won him the trust of voters.  Haar will win precisely because voters won't be swayed by negative attacks having seen that he's a man of character who will do what's right for Nebraska's future.

Of course, outside this top tier there are plenty of other important legislative races that present real opportunities to elect more progressive candidates.  I won't explore each of these at the moment but must at least mention my own campaign in Lincoln's District 27.  Running against incumbent State Senator Colby Coash, the Kyle Michaelis campaign is giving voters a clear and exciting choice - leaving no doubt about who I am and what I'll stand for in the Legislature.

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From the New Nebraska Network:

There's a lot of talk about Republican candidates distancing themselves from their party's presidential nominee - Mitt Romney - after video surfaced of him attacking 47% of the population as "dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it."  Romney also explained that he didn't care about these people because: "I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

In U.S. history, you'd be hard-pressed finding a single statement exhibiting more contempt for more Americans by a presidential nominee - especially so soon before an election when writing off close to 50% of the population looks suspiciously like campaign suicide.  Republican candidates across the country recognize this and have taken steps to prevent Romney's attack on 47% of Americans from becoming a suicide pact.  That's what we've seen in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, Hawaii, Virginia, and even North Dakota.

But, I don't think it was clear just how bad things really are until the one 2012 candidate Republicans are proclaiming a near-lock to take a Democratic Senate seat felt it necessary to distance herself from her party's nominee.  That's Deb Fischer - right here in Nebraska.

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Two weeks ago, I wrote a diary about Nebraska State Senator Colby Coash's $500/person fundraising reception featuring Ted Nugent scheduled for May 10 at the Omaha Hilton.  That was at the very height of national outrage over Nugent's threatening remarks towards President Barack Obama at the NRA convention in St. Louis.  It took a few days for the Nebraska press to catch up, but - when it was revealed the Secret Service was interviewing Nugent - they started to pay attention.

First challenged on the subject by the Lincoln Journal-Star, Coash immediately defended Nugent:

"He's a free speech guy. And so am I," said state Sen. Colby Coash..."I don't agree with everything he says, but I support his right to say it."

Coash had no plans to denounce Nugent or cancel the fundraiser...."I plan to move forward," he said.

Coash probably hoped that would be the end of it.  But, he had radically underestimated just how out-of-touch Nugent's hateful political rhetoric is with the progressive Lincoln district he represents.  He'd also failed to comprehend just how contrary Nugent's outrageous and offensive statements are to Nebraskans' idea of our state's values.
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We all know a dangerous extremism has taken hold in rightwing American politics.  There's probably noone more representative of this than the infamous Ted Nugent, who shocked the country and invited the Secret Service's ire with his jihadist rhetoric threatening President Obama and others at last weekend's NRA convention.

We've seen the DNC respond with an online video and petition targeting Mitt Romney for his refusing to denounce Nugent's attacks.  However, it's interesting that these efforts actually lagged one legislative campaign in Nebraska challenging a conservative State Senator who still shows no remorse featuring Nugent at a $500/person VIP reception next month.

Check out the invite from State Senator Colby Coash for yourself:

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Today is the 7th birthday of Kyle Michaelis' New Nebraska Network.  For seven years, Michaelis has too often stood alone holding elected officials accountable and offering a better vision for Nebraska's future.  For lack of competition as much as anything else, NNN has had the curious distinction of being Democratic Senator Ben Nelson's strongest online defender and most consistent progressive critic.  That's what it has taken to continue moving Nebraska forward and to ensure a progressive voice could be heard where it's been needed the most.

But - after seven years - it's time for new challenges on wider terrain than blogging allows.  That's why Kyle Michaelis is running for the Nebraska Legislature, seeking to represent the 27th Legislative District in the capitol city of Lincoln.  The seat is currently held by a conservative incumbent who only won by 79 votes in 2008 by preying upon the values of progressive voters with promises he never intended to keep.

There's plenty of time before November to get into the specifics of this contest.  For now, I'm just asking the DKos community to wish NNN a happy 7th birthday by helping to get a progressive candidate off the ground and contributing to the Michaelis for Legislature campaign!

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From the New Nebraska Network:

This spring, I attended a forum hosted by the Nebraska Department of Insurance on the state's implementation of the 2010 health care reform bill.  Our Republican Governor Dave Heineman sat in the back of the UNL Student Union's ballroom throughout the presentation by two young policy analysts - Michael Sciullo and John Paul Sabby - who were hired by the Heineman Administration with grant money from the federal government.

If any one moment really stuck out from that spring forum, it was a question from the audience directed towards Sciullo and Sabby asking about their backgrounds.  I couldn't tell whether the unidentified audience member was skeptical about the qualifications or the motivations of those our state was relying upon in setting up its health insurance exchange.  What I could tell was that Sciullo and Sabby were taken aback by the question and showed quite a bit of hesitancy in broadly responding that they'd both worked in "advocacy."

Personally, I'd assumed this "advocacy" most likely entailed some sort of low-level lobbying for the powerful and politically-entrenched insurance industry that Sciullo and Sabby would now be representing on the public's dime.  What I wouldn't have guessed and wasn't at all prepared for was that they'd previously been working as political organizers for the radical right-wing Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) - an offshoot of Congressman Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign. Nor would I have ever guessed that they'd primarily been advocating the extremist message that "government is always oppression."

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I know that Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson isn't real popular around DKos, but - speaking as a Nebraskan - I'm hoping everyone will take a good, hard look at the dangerous extremism that's our only real alternative in the 2012 election.  Earlier today, the blogger Ronaldo of New Nebraska Network posted a great diary featuring the following local TV news interview with state Attorney General Jon Bruning - the clear frontrunner for the Republican Senate nomination. In it, you'll see Bruning state his belief that "default may be necessary" while declaring that even the radical Boehner plan to raise the debt ceiling is too moderate to win his support.

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Nebraska's Republican Attorney General Jon Bruning kicked off his 2012 campaign against Democratic Senator Ben Nelson less than 48 hours after the polls had closed in the 2010 election.  He's widely-considered the front-runner for the Republican nomination and has even been shown defeating Nelson in early polling.

But, before anyone goes and hands this race to Bruning and the GOP, they'd better take a look at Bruning's slick new campaign ad that was just released online.  While trying to attack Ben Nelson over his health care reform vote, the Bruning campaign has created an accidental celebration of the gullibility of voters they're counting on carrying their candidate through this election.

See for yourself:

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With Monday's new poll showing Democrat Tom White withing striking distance of victory against Republican incumbent Lee Terry in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District, a lot of the DailyKos community is probably wondering what the mainstream media has been missing about this race that's kept it off the national radar.  So, here's why our Democratic challenger is going to win this seat.

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For the last few weeks, Kos has been showing interest in polling Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, where there have been continued whispers of an opportunity for a Democratic pick-up in the race between incumbent Congressman Lee Terry and Omaha State Senator Tom White.  Today, the first and only polling in the race shows that Kos’ instincts were correct - we have a serious race on our hands.

According to Wiese Associates, polling on behalf of the Omaha World-Herald, Terry is leading White among registered voters only 44 – 39% with a 4 point margin of error.  In this same poll, conducted Oct. 17 - 21, 30% say they are "neutral" in their opinion of White and another 14% say they still have "no idea" who he is.  That means Democrats have enormous opportunity but also A LOT of work to do.

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In 2008, Barack Obama's presidential campaign in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District took on national significance as pundits and strategists mused about several scenarios in which this Electoral College anomaly might cast the deciding vote and swing the entire election.  Two years later, for less novel reasons that may prove just as important to our country's future, the eyes of the nation remain on Nebraska's 2nd Congressional Distict because of State Senator Tom White's strong challenge to 12 year Republican incumbent Lee Terry.

Despite strong headwinds in the national political environment, White is surpassing expectations and continues to gain momentum at the most crucial point in this election.  That's why Washington Post political reporters Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza just named White vs. Terry as one of their 25 Races to Watch in 2010.

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Nebraska's 2nd District Republican Congressman Lee Terry is one of the most endangered Republican incumbents in this year's election, facing the toughest fight of his political career from Omaha State Senator Tom White.  But, he's becoming more endangered by the second as reports of his bad behavior draw continued attention all across the country.

Last week, the story broke of Terry's "close conversation with a comely lobbyist" at a Washington D.C. bar where he flirtatiously asked her, "Why did you get me so drunk?"  That story even cracked the Daily Kos front-page in last night's Polling and Political Wrap.  However, what started as a mere illustration of Terry's too-cozy relationship with corporate lobbyists has quickly blossomed into a mini-scandal tainting the entire Republican Party and its hypocritical claims of representing traditional family values.

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