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From the New Nebraska Network

In December, I wrote at length about the choices we face in this election.

As we prepare to welcome Scott Kleeb to the race for United States Senate in Nebraska, the fact that we have this choice is not reason enough to celebrate.

The decision will be left to Nebraskans, and not to politicians in Washington. It stands in stark contrast to the Republicans who forced out their other candidates to hand-pick a nominee from Washington.

Nebraska Democrats are going to offer voters a choice, this May. But more important than that, more important than the choice that exists, is what that choice represents.

Scott Kleeb began his campaign for Congress in Nebraska's 3rd Congressional District not by talking about himself, but about Nebraska. Not by talking about the things that Nebraska's Republican Party does or does not represent, but by talking about what Nebraska Democrats should represent.

In the heart of Republican Nebraska, Scott Kleeb was willing to bring his message to the people.

But Scott Kleeb says his heart is in Nebraska's Sand Hills and in making the Democratic Party relevant again in middle America.

So instead of searching for a teaching job after receiving his doctorate in history at Yale last year, Kleeb, 30, is touring the 3rd Congressional District in his white Chevy pickup, trying to round up votes as the lone Democrat in the race.

Don't doubt the sincerity of this former bull rider whose dissertation was on cattle ranching, say relatives on whose ranch Kleeb works.

As a testament to his strength as a candidate, and his skill and intellect, the Democrat, running in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats 3 to 1, got the endorsement of the heavily conservative Omaha World-Herald:

One candidate, Scott Kleeb, stands out as the better choice. The reason: his fundamental strength - a strength of intellect, a strength of eloquence, a strength of stability.

When pressed aggressively, Kleeb's opponent, State Sen. Adrian Smith, falls back on sound bites and slogans. When pressed under the same conditions, Kleeb draws on different resources - mental focus, breadth of analytical ability and an unshakeable internal steadiness.

Such strength could serve Kleeb well in Congress. Such strength provides him the potential to be a lawmaker respected for making a constructive difference.

As many 3rd District voters know, Kleeb has an unusual background as a cowboy/scholar - a real-life ranch hand who also earned stellar academic credentials, above all for his study of how the American West and cattle country in particular are connected to the world economy.

We should not be naive about the difficulties in this election. Mike Johanns is a former governor with a heavy financial advantage, and the Republican Party has already demonstrated a willingness to pull out all the stops against legislative and federal candidates alike.

But we should not duck from this challenge.

In the end, we face a choice. A choice between cynicism and hope. A choice between insider politics and the grassroots. A choice between a lifelong Republican and a voice for Nebraska Democrats.

This choice is important. Nebraska Democrats have a choice, but on May 13, we need to give all Nebraskans a choice.

Originally posted to ptmflbcs on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 05:03 PM PST.

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