SCOTT KLEEB-- A NEW PRAIRIE POPULIST FROM NEBRASKA... IN THE U.S. SENATE?
Nebraska, once the home of inspirational progressives like William Jennings Bryan and, later, George Norris, is now one of the reddest states in the Union. Since I was born it has been the second most dependable supporter of the GOP's horrid presidential candidates. And the Democratic senators and governors Nebraskans elect... in many cases-- think Bob Kerrey and Ben Nelson--they vote as badly as Republicans. By any measurement Nelson is the absolute most reactionary Democrat in the U.S. Senate, voting with Republicans as much as he does with Democrats and always the second (after Lieberman) to start spouting right-wing talking points as soon as a difficult issue comes up. His voting record-- on substantive matters-- has more in common with rubber stamp Republicans like Olympia Snowe, Arlen Spector and Susan Collins than with even the most right wing, triangulating Democrats (Mary Landrieu, Evan Bayh and Mark Pryor).
With the retirement of a disgusted and disillusioned Chuck Hagel, there is an open seat in Nebraska. For a while there it looked like it would be two very conservative Republicans, ex-Gov. Mike Johanns and stinkin' rich businessman Tony Raimondo (thinly disguised as a freshly minted Democrat) battling it out to see who would go to Washington and do the most damage. Before we talk about the wonderful new development yesterday in Nebraska, I want to point out Raimondo's campaign contributions. Between he and his wife, there have been 78 political contributions since 1994 for a total of $53,750. The vast bulk of the money has gone to right-wing Republicans and to one right-wing Democrat: Ben Nelson (nearly $18,000). All the donations he's given to political committees have been to Republican ones and when he's given to local Democrats it's usually in small amounts, like a fraction of what he gives to their GOP rivals. Example in 2006 he donated $250 to Democrat Scott Kleeb who was running against far right nutcase and closet queen Adrian Smith (who he gave $2,000, followed by another $2,000 in 2007).
Yesterday that same Scott Kleeb, after a tremendous push from a draft movement among grassroots Nebraskans, decided his state deserved the opportunity to pick between an actual Democrat and a Republican. As many had hoped, he declared his candidacy. All my friends who know him have something nice to say about him. Ben Nelson, on the other hand, who convinced Raimondo to drop his intention to run a primary campaign against Johanns and switch to the Democratic Party, is seething. The Hill reported that Scott will file his papers today.
There are a ton of stories today about Scott announcing. I've been unable to find any-- or locate a place on his website-- that mentions specific policy positions. I'm certain he's better than the other creeps running and I know he's an intelligent guy whose heart is in the right place. I also know he is a firm believer in grassroots democracy, in practice as well as in theory. We'll be interested in seeing where he stands on the tough issues of the day when the rubber meets the road. And we'll let you know.