Skip to main content

The only opponent for Bob Kerrey has dropped out of the primary race for the Democratic nomination to try and replace Ben Nelson's Senate seat for 2012. And to boot? Hassebrook endorsed Kerrey.

You may be wondering... who is Bob Kerrey, and why do I care about Nebraska, one of the reddest of the red conservative states in the nation?

Because Bob Kerrey has won as a real Democrat in the past, and he can win again.

More after the squiggly.

I was born and raised in Nebraska. I've trudged through cornfields for 7 summers since I was 14 years old doing Detasseling and Rogueing for agricultural giants like Pioneer, Micogen, Northrup-King, Monsanto, etc. (I've since had many other jobs and am in my 32nd year of life). I've also been voting in Nebraska since I turned 18, and maintain my residency status while I am out of state for my graduate work. Why would I want to pay higher state taxes than where I currentlyl? I guess I believe in my home state, despite the Nebraska Unicameral salivating to emulate Wisconsin, Maine, and Michigan conservatives. There is a visible sense of relief when I cross the state line, back to a land of plains, wheat fields, Depression era rows of trees, gentle bubbling brooks, pastures, and of course, the beautiful Nebraska sky like some cathedral's vaulted ceiling.

What does Nebraska's delegation look like? First, it is not a populous state, despite being the fourth greatest producer of agricultural products in the nation (we are eclipsed only by California, Iowa, and Texas, and after Nebraska comes Minnesota, Kansas, and Indiana). Agriculture is king for Nebraska, and one of the reasons Nebraskans kicked up a storm in our own press against the XL-Keystone Pipeline running through the Sandhills of Nebraska (and thus, over the all important Ogallala Aquifer, the primary reason Nebraska can grow corn at all).

Officially, Nebraska is a nonpartisan state for our Unicameral. There are no party labels for this body, although the various executive offices certainly are partisan, and Republicans in Nebraska rule the roost. Some of this is historical, since Nebraska as a free state is one of the reasons South Carolina seceded in 1860 (a few months prior to Abraham Lincoln becoming President).

Who then is representing Nebraska in the federal government?
We have 3 House districts; Lee Terry (R-01), Jeff Fortenberry (R-02), and Adrian Smith (R-03). We have two Senators, Mike Johans (R-Sen), and Ben Nelson (D-Sen). So... 4 offices in the hands of Republicans, and 1 office that is a DINO (Nelson was originally a Republican who did an end run around the Republican Party, and then became a token Democrat for that fat corporate cash).

Let's take a look who is bankrolling Nebraska's delegation to Washington.
Lee Terry; Electric Utilities, Telecoms, Insurance, Healthcare Professionals, Banksters
Jeff Fortenberry; Health Professionals, Insurance, Banksters, Agriculture, and Real Estate
Adrian Smith; Insurance, Banksters, Healthcare Professionals, and Agriculture.
Mike Johanns- PACs, Retired, Insurance, Lawyers, Real Estate
Ben Nelson- Insurance, Lobbyists, Lawyers, Banksters, BigPharma.

It is apparent that corporations have their meat hooks into every Nebraska politician that we send to Washington. Is Bob Kerrey any different? Not if you look at his record from 2000, when he stepped down from his Senate seat. The same jokers who bankroll our Republican delegates are the same industries that helped Bob as a Governor of Nebraska from 1983 to 1987, and then as a Senator from 1989 to 2001.

But it's the voting record and Bob's history that counts. The ADA (Americans for Democratic Action) pegs Bob Kerrey in 2000 with an 85% voting record (ie, being progressive). Ben Nelson, our current Democrat who is retiring? 50% (while our other Senator, Johanns has a 10% rating). And another thing to remember is who is already gunning for Bob... the Anti-Choice Right to Lifers of course. Bob is on the best side of Women's rights... namely, by fighting for women's freedom to make their own choices, and keeping Big Government out of any body cavity.

So who exactly is Bob Kerrey? He was born in Lincoln, the state's capital, and went into the sciences (Pharmacy) for college. During the Vietnam conflict, he was a Navy Seal. His Seal career is not without controversy- he was the captain of the Seal team which engaged in the Thanh Phong Massacre on Feb 25, 1969. The story was carried by Time Magazine; Kerrey is a man with guilt and regret. From the same article, Kerrey responds...

"It's far more than guilt," he said that morning in 1998. "It's the shame. You can never, can never get away from it. It darkens your day. I thought dying for your country was the worst thing that could happen to you, and I don't think it is. I think killing for your country can be a lot worse. Because that's the memory that haunts.

"There's a part of me that wants to say to you all the memories that I've got are my memories, and I'm not going to talk about them," he said. "We thought we were going over there to fight for the American people. We come back, we find out that the American people didn't want us to do it. And ever since that time we've been poked, prodded, bent, spindled, mutilated, and I don't like it. Part of living with the memory, some of those memories, is to forget them. I've got a right to say to you it's none of your damned business. I carry memories of what I did, and I survive and live based upon lots of different mechanisms."

On Kerrey's next mission, he determined to only take prisoners. Kerrey's Raiders were sent on another abduction mission on March 16, 1969, and because the Seals did not fire from afar, but tried to sneak in by scaling a cliff, they were seen and in the ensuing combat, a vietcong explosive went off at Bob's feet. He was seen to by the medic, pumped full of morphine, airlifted out of the combat zone, and woke up in an army hospital. He was then sent to Philadelphia and would later receive the Bronze Star. This was Bob's last mission in the Vietnam War. After the surgery to remove his leg, he awoke to his family in his hospital room.
He told the excruciating story of Thanh Phong to his mother, then to a minister and, later, to his first wife. His mother cried as she held her son, telling him that he would be O.K. And he would be, eventually. Yet, "I cannot be what I once was," he says. "Carefree, no nightmares, no pain, no remorse, no regrets, feeling in church like God was smiling warmly down upon me as if I was the most special thing on earth. That's what it was before, and that's not the way it is now."
Bob would later join the protest movement against Nixon in Nebraska. He became a resturanteur, becoming wealthy, and as a political novice he won the Governorship in 1982 (despite supporting Gay rights in

Bob Kerrey was once a potential contender for the Democratic Primary in 2000, and speculation was rife whether he would challenge Al Gore. Bob had run for a Presidential nomination before. He has the ability to gather funds, he is charismatic, and well liked in our home state. This is the reason why the Republican Party in Nebraska is making a huge stink about Kerrey sandbagging until the day before the deadline to file for running for Nelson's Senate seat. The Republicans are scared by Bob, and well they should be.

What does the Republican Primary for this Senate seat look like? The Rs have some of the usual suspects, like Don Stenberg (currently treasurer) and Jon Bruning (attorney general), but also includes unknowns (at least to me) Deb Fischer (state senator), Pat Flynn (investment adviser) and Steven Zimmerman (completely unknown name). The Republican Primary will most likely go to Bruning, since Stenberg has repeatedly failed in the past.

Perhaps you saw Lawrence O'Donnell's story on Bob here. Lawrence even had another segmentabout Bob's story, which includes video of Bob singing "Dancing Matilda" at his victory speech- it is a haunting song about war and disillusionment. Listen to Bob sing the song, and you'll get a sense of who this man is.

I am excited for the first time in a long time about my home state's chances. The Democratic party of Nebraska has not had a win in a long time. We're a husk of our progressive roots from the days when William Jennings Bryan thundered and lit fires in hearts and minds across the Midwest. We have grown thin and weak since the days of Jim Exon, but Bob is an heir to that spirit, because of his personal story, and his committment to progressive principles. You won't find a better chance for Democrats in my home state. I've already given what I can to Bob's campaign for Senate. This is possibly one of the best chances Democrats have to retain Nelson's seat, and get a better politician to boot.

The last politician I gave to was Scott Kleeb for Nebraska's District 3 seat, but even Scott did not have the same effect that Bob does for people in my state. Remember... we can't give up on Red States, and we don't have to compromise (like the hack Nelson). How does Bob poll? TPM's polling of upcoming contests don't look good (double digit leads), but this is without any advertising whatsoever. Republicans believed that Nebraska was a gimme-state. That they could spend cheaply and still grab Nelson's seat. This is the reason they are scared of Bob, and why they are already sliming him. It's a coin toss really, but it's a coin toss we have a shot at winning.

To quote Lawrence at the end of the Feb 29 show, "Waltz today, walk tomorrow. That's the Bob Kerrey I know. Nebraska, and America will be lucky if we get him back in the Senate."

Bob Kerrey 2012.


Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    Above Grecian mantles were chiseled these words... Know Thyself... Nothing in Excess... the pop philosophy of its day.

    by ravagerofworlds2 on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 01:16:03 PM PST

  •  Thanks for this introduction to Kerrey (5+ / 0-)

    He sounds very good and I agree, it's never over until it's over.  He can win and I'd like to see it.

    I hope you will keep us up to date.  I want to do some more research on him, but right now I'm leaning to a donation -- I live in Indiana.

    My only suggestion is to repeat the link to his web page and donation page at the bottom of your article and make it clear.  Also begin the title NE-Sen:

    Folks are busy and we need all the help we can get!  

    I would LOVE to see a good win like this in Nebraska.  I like learning about Nebraska politics, too.  That was helpful. Thanks for this informative diary.

    “The only thing that happens in an instant is destruction … everything else requires time.” ~ First Lady, Michelle Obama

    by ParkRanger on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 01:37:18 PM PST

  •  I remember Kerrey in the Senate from before (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vetwife, BasharH, FarWestGirl

    As exasperating as he could be, he would STILL be  a clear improvement over Nelson.

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 01:45:07 PM PST

    •  yup (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vetwife, FarWestGirl

      He was a hawk, but he's our best chance for this Senate seat. The improvement would be palpable; Kerrey is pro-choice, and has been a supporter of gay rights since he started politics in the early 80s.

      Above Grecian mantles were chiseled these words... Know Thyself... Nothing in Excess... the pop philosophy of its day.

      by ravagerofworlds2 on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 01:52:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  ty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've made changes based on your suggestions.

    Living in Indiana- we're red state cousins : ) I'd suggest reading the entire NY times article I link. It's 10 pages, and it paints Bob with as non-biased a brush as it can, warts and all.

    Above Grecian mantles were chiseled these words... Know Thyself... Nothing in Excess... the pop philosophy of its day.

    by ravagerofworlds2 on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 01:46:45 PM PST

    •  I will read it! I didn't have the time to do (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      research right now, but I put this diary in my folder of politicians I'm interested in.

      We are indeed red state cousins.  Right now "Taliban" Dan Burton is my rep and Coats and Lugar my senators -- all GOP.  

      President Obama has generous coat tails.  I think he will definitely give a lift to the Democratic nominees for Governor, John Gregg, and for Senator, Joe Donnelly.  Gregg is excellent.  Donnelly is a blue dog, but I like him as a person and have had good interactions with his office on various issues.  They listen.

      I really did enjoy your excellent diary!

      “The only thing that happens in an instant is destruction … everything else requires time.” ~ First Lady, Michelle Obama

      by ParkRanger on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 02:37:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I overall like Kerrey and he is one (3+ / 0-)

    more advocate for veterans.  He is a moderate BUT he is very good at holding to his positions and doing what he feels is best for the country and his constiguents.  He served well on Veterans committes and personally I think he is the right combination of what we need in the senate.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 02:05:09 PM PST

  •  "And the Band Played 'Waltzing Matilda'" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FarWestGirl, mr crabby

    is the song, by Australian songwriter Eric Bogle. And yes, it is a haunting song--

    Now those that were left, well we tried to survive
    In a mad world of blood, death and fire
    And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
    But around me the corpses piled higher
    Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head
    And when I woke up in my hospital bed
    And saw what it had done, I wished I was dead
    Never knew there were worse things than dying
    For no more I'll go waltzing Matilda
    All around the green bush far and near
    For to hump tent and pegs, a man needs two legs
    No more waltzing Matilda for me
    --made the more so in Kerrey's case by the leg he lost in 'Nam.

    (NB Bogle's perhaps better known song is "No Man's Land" (also known as "The Green Fields of France" or "Willie McBride"). I was surprised to discover that ATBPWM was written 5 years earlier, I'd always thought the order was the reverse.)

    snarcolepsy, n: a condition in which the sufferer responds to any comment with a smartass comeback.

    by Uncle Cosmo on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 03:01:22 PM PST

  •  I was really glad that he decided to run. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

    by FarWestGirl on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 03:41:22 PM PST

    •  Harry and Senate Dems did a behind the scenes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      on Bob. He's getting to be an old man, and Nelson's seat was lost without a big hitter. Bob is our best bet- and at the very least he'll force the NRSC to spend a lot more money on this race. At most, we might keep the seat in the Dem column : )

      Above Grecian mantles were chiseled these words... Know Thyself... Nothing in Excess... the pop philosophy of its day.

      by ravagerofworlds2 on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 08:28:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Spit in McConnell's soup -- vote for Kerrey! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Kerrey will be  a great Senator and he will hold the Senate for the Dems.  

    Screw you, Mitch McConnell!

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site