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Timing truly is everything.  This issue could be a big one between Pete Ricketts (R. NE) and CHuck Hassebrook (D. NE)

Though immigration is largely a federal matter, Nebraska and other states have in recent years faced decisions on things such as whether to allow the children of illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

Nebraska is one of only two states that deny driver’s licenses to children who were brought into this country illegally, even though they have been granted temporary leave to stay in this country by President Barack Obama.

Ricketts said he would work to keep Nebraska as one of the holdouts, but Hassebrook said he would work to change the state’s policy.

The two also part company over the broader question of whether the federal government should adopt an immigration reform plan that would allow illegal immigrants to apply for legal status.

Ricketts opposes what’s called a “pathway to citizenship,” saying it would be unfair to people who are waiting to enter this country legally. “It’s not right or fair for them to jump the line, to get in front of the folks who are trying to come here legally,” he said.

Hassebrook favors a pathway to citizenship as the only “practical” way to deal with the estimated 14 million illegal immigrants living in this country. He said it defies “common sense” to believe that America could — or should — deport millions of people, many of whom are working in ag-related industries such as meatpacking.

“My estimate would be that if they were all deported tomorrow, cattle prices would fall and it would have a profound impact on our economy,” Hassebrook said.

How Hassebrook’s and Ricketts’ different views on immigration will play out in the fall election remains unknown.

Illegal immigration has long been a touchstone issue in Nebraska, but mostly in Republican primary battles, where it can spell trouble for a candidate who is perceived by the conservative base as being soft on illegal immigration.

Often in Republican primary races one candidate will try to woo conservative voters by accusing another candidate of supporting “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

In fact, many Republicans believe former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne lost his bid for governor in 2006 against Heineman largely because Osborne supported in-state tuition rates for the children of illegal immigrants.

But the Hassebrook-Ricketts contest is not a GOP primary race, and those who will cast a ballot in November may have views that differ from the average Republican primary voter.

“You’re talking about different constituents. The primary constituent and the general election constituent just aren’t the same,” said Randall Adkins, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Adkins believes that on the issue of illegal immigration, Nebraskans overall are much more moderate than the Republican base. “I think for many voters their views on this issue have been evolving,” Adkins said.

There are few recent polls on the issue in Nebraska. In the fall of 2012, an Omaha World-Herald poll found that a majority of Nebraskans supported a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already living in this country. About 58 percent of 800 registered voters said such immigrants should be allowed to keep their jobs and pursue citizenship.

The World-Herald survey also found that about half of Republicans favored allowing illegal immigrants to apply for legal status, while two-thirds of Democrats favored a pathway to citizenship. - Omaha World-Herald, 6/29/14

With House Republicans killing immigration reform and PPP showing this race competitive, we'll see how this plays out.  It could certainly benefit Hassebrook.  The GOP also knows this is going to be tough race:

Its nominees and officeholders lined up one by one Saturday in Hastings to urge delegates to the Republican state convention to rally behind the primary victors and keep the governorship and both Senate seats in GOP hands.

With Republican nominee Pete Ricketts setting the tone, the party activists were cautioned not to take a fifth gubernatorial victory in a row for granted despite their built-in registration advantage.

Gov. Dave Heineman sounded the battle cry, suggesting that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chuck Hassebrook "would do to Nebraska what President Obama has done to America" in terms of more reliance upon government.

Whereas Ricketts' election would result in more jobs, controlled state spending and a continued commitment to pro-life principles, Heineman said, "the other guy is pro-Obamacare, pro-abortion, pro-expansion of Medicaid" and committed to more spending.

Ricketts told the convention, which was held at the Central Community College campus on the east side of Hastings, that he wants to help the state take advantage of a "growth opportunity" as expanding global population increases the demand for food.

As an agricultural state, Nebraska is "ideally situated for growth," he said.

Ricketts, who is viewed as the general election frontrunner in a Republican state following his narrow primary victory, warned the delegates that "the other side is tough, smart and well-funded."

But there are clear distinctions for voters to consider, he said.

"We talk tax reform," he said. "They want more taxes, more government. We talk sanctity of life; they are pro-abortion."

Echoing Ricketts' cautionary warning, Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann said: "Do not take this for granted. It's going to be a tough race."

Heidemann has been selected by Ricketts as his running mate.

Senate nominee Ben Sasse said Republicans need to fight for "a Senate majority with a cushion" so they can stand as a bulwark against "a president who tries to unilaterally exercise power" that exceeds what is constitutionally granted the executive branch.

Sasse, who romped to victory in the May GOP primary election, is matched against Democratic nominee Dave Domina and independent petition candidate Jim Jenkins. - Columbus Telegram, 6/29/14

By the way, Hassebrook picked his running mate today:

“I’m pleased to announce that Jane Raybould will be our candidate for Lt. Governor,” Hassebrook announced to applause from supporters gathered at the state Capitol in Lincoln.

Hassebrook praised Raybould’s work as Lancaster County Commissioner, saying it has prepared her for the role of Lt. Governor as well as Governor if need be.

“She’s been a leader in county government, stepping up to address tough budget issues through cost-cutting measures that have enabled Lancaster County to serve its citizens effectively and cost-effectively,” Hassebrook stated.

Raybould also is a Lincoln businesswoman. She serves as vice president of the company that owns and operates the Russ’ Market and Super Saver grocery store chains.
Raybould told supporters she was pleased to be chosen by Hassebrook.

“I’m honored to join Chuck as his Lt. Governor where I look forward to continuing my service not only to Lancaster County, but to the entire state of Nebraska,” Raybould said.
Raybould added she’s ready for the statewide campaign.

“I am thrilled to join Chuck as his Lt. Governor for ‘One Nebraska’. Let’s get this campaign going,” Raybould said to applause. - Nebraska Radio Network, 6/30/14

This is turning into a sleeper race that everyone should be following closely.  We have a great chance here to take this seat and we need to be ready for November.  Click here to donate and get involved with Hassebrook's campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 02:39 PM PDT.

Also republished by LatinoKos and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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