A fascinating and encouraging editorial from the hometown newspaper of North Platte, Nebraska today calls on 2006 congressional candidate Scott Kleeb to step up to the plate and run for Senate:
Kleeb is interested and has shown poise and moxie. He represents the fresh voices of Nebraska who speak as true moderates.
Kleeb did much better in the House race than observers ever thought a Democrat would. In the last couple weeks, he appeared to be winning. Then he was hit with some smelly last-minute campign tactics from Republicans, who fired both barrels.
Kleeb would have to run long and hard to win the Senate seat. At this stage, he must be considering if it would tarnish his image in the opinions of thousands of casual voters if he were to lose two consecutive elections.
That would be a shame. Kleeb shines. He's intelligent and educated plus he knows how to "cowboy up". He came through the last campaign with a smile and high ideals. He continues to care for and work to build the best things in Nebraska.
Mike Johanns, a twice-elected Republican governor who most recently served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, is the frontrunner.
Like Kleeb, Johanns also shows sincerity. In addition to his "aw shucks" rural genuineness, Johanns knows the real workings of politics and government as well as any Nebraska politician in history. Such knowlege can be good and bad.
Attorney General Jon Bruning is also aiming for the Senate seat. Bruning was the first candidate to run for the GOP nomination, and was so intent he was willing to take on Sen. Chuck Hagel. Not even Johanns had that ambition.
Bruning can appear too eager but he could do a good job in the Senate. He has plenty of guts, as he showed in taking on some of North Platte's largest businessmen in the recent gas price dispute.
Bruning has laid groundwork for this run for many months. He has lots of political experience in the statehouse and is attentive to national politics.
We hope Kleeb runs and if he does, we hope he runs hard. That would be a boon for voter choices. There is nothing to say a Democrat couldn't win Nebraska's Senate seat. Anything can happen. Theoretically, the Cornhuskers can beat Ohio State this year at football too. (That is not a joke. Not this season.)
The worst case for the general public is if interested candidates set back and let Johanns have this one.
Johanns could do a decent job. So could Kleeb or Bruning.
What is not theoretical is that voters benefit from watching spirited debates. It stirs them to care about government. And, whoever is elected does a better job if he has competition.
The goodwill Kleeb built in last year's race for NE-03 has not faded and will serve him exceptionally well if he decides to throw his hat into the ring. Kleeb is the real deal, a tough and tested fighter with a genuine shot at the upset. If you care about this race about and its potential to provide real progress to our rural states and communities, please join the Bulletin in drafting Scott Kleeb for the United States Senate.