Friday, October 27, 2006

Ben Nelson Beaches Nebraska’s latest “Power Rankings” are out. Remember these from a few months ago, when Ben Nelson complained about his relatively low rating of 88th out of 100 Senators?

Well, Ol’ Ben has topped even THAT performance. Nelson is now ranked 96th out of 100 (that’ll be the fifth LEAST effective in the entire U.S. Senate).

Note some other Democrat Senators also elected in 2000 – Hillary Clinton, Bill Nelson, Frank Lautenberg and Debbie Stabenow -- are all ranked ahead of him. Democrats Barrack Obama and Ken Salazar, both elected two years later in 2004, are ranked ahead of Ben Nelson as well.

And let’s look at a couple of Republicans. Nebraska’s Chuck Hagel, elected just two years before Nelson, is ranked at number 48. Of course, Hagel has had very public fights with those in his party, so it’s not unusual that his power would wan thusly.

But let’s look at another comparable Republican: Lincoln Chafee, Republican of Rhode Island. Chafee is known as Ben Nelson’s mirror opposite – a Republican in a liberal state, as opposed to Nelson’s Democrat in a conservative state. Chafee often votes with the Dems, like Nelson votes with the GOP. And look at the Power Ranking of Chafee, elected in same year as Nelson: 95th, just one spot above Nelson.

So we here at Leavenworth Street argue the point that all this talk about being “Independent” of one’s party is a big giant albatross around your neck when you actually want to get things done. Think it’s any coincidence that Ben Nelson has a dreadful record of passing any significant bills in the Senate?

When you straddle the fence, and play both sides, the effect is that no one trusts you. The Senators in your own party know you’ll stab ‘em in the back at a moment’s notice, and the ones on the other side of the aisle see the (D) behind your name, and feel the same.

Ben Nelson has put himself on an island in the U.S. Senate (he and Lincoln Chafee can share coconuts) and it is Nebraska that ends up being lost.


Anonymous said...

I plan on voting Nelson off the island!

Anonymous said...

Again with the Puh-leeze. When the Ricketts campaign tried to raise this study earlier, its own author said it was worthless and didn't effectively measure centrists like Nelson. But how about this instead - in 2005, Newsweek named Nelson one of just six Power Players in the entire Congress - House and Senate. And then he went on to negotiate the Gang of 14 compromise. So, I'll take a major news magazine over a study that is declared flawed by the people who MAKE it.

Street Sweeper said...

We'd agree that all rankings like have their faults, but what's the margin of error? When Nelson ends up at the BOTTOM of the list, you give it another look.

And we stand by our analysis of Nelson trying to play both sides. It will come back to bite him when he needs more than 13 votes.

Eric said...


It seems our house delegation didn't do so well either. 315, 323, and 329. I guess it is to be expected that Osborne is so low considering he's pretty much a lame duck, but it's still kinda sad that he placed behind Eleanor Holmes Norton from DC who doesn't even get to vote.

Anonymous said...

Things the methodology doesn't measure: legislation passed as amendments or included in other bills, earmarks, appearances in home state and constituent services. Things it does measure: television appearances.

ask yourself, if you are a nebraskan, what do you care about more? how often your member gets funding for critical homestate projects, constituent services, appearances around the state and working with others in a bipartisan way brokering deals OR having breakfast with tim russert?

Street Sweeper said...

Actually, I believe it DOES specifically take in amendments -- as can be noted when you click on an individual Member's name and see "General Factors Affecting This Member's Score".

As far as your discounting the "Sizzle Factor" (as they put it), this is a measure of POWER. So no, it probably doesn't take into account "appearances around the state". Which would be stupid for such a rating.

And appearing on Russert just may factor into the chance of your bill making it out of committee. But, you know, feel free to trade that in for a speech at the local Elks club…

Anonymous said...

oh puh-leeze again, name one piece of major legislation chuck "sunday" hagel has had passed .... time's up

Street Sweeper said...

We're not CQ here, Senor Puh-leeze. But feel free to give us a run-down on Nelson's Rotary Club speeches, which you crave.

Anonymous said...

If your point is we should not vote for low-ranked incumbants then we thank you for your support Moul and Esch, since Terry, or Lee, or whatever his name is, our most highly-ranked house member, ranks ahead of only 15 other Repubs, counting those facing indictment, and Fortenberry's ranked even lower.

Street Sweeper said...

Of course the difference in the House races is that the Dem candidates have actaully taken Dem positions -- as opposed to trying to take a GOP route each time. If you goal is to elect a Dem, by all means, vote for one or all of 'em (or just burn down the other guys' sign -- whatever you're into).

But if you actually want to vote for someone who will vote like a Republican, and support Republican positions, and gain some influence doing it, then Ben Nelson ain't your guy.

And neither is Esch, Kleeb or Moul.

Anonymous said...

Lee Terry ranks 311 out of 435.

Lee Terry ranks last out of all majority members with 4 terms or more.

Of 25 majority party freshman this congress, 24 ranked ahead of Lee Terry.

The only majority party freshman who failed to outrank Terry was Fortenberry.

Like it or not, the Democrats are going to take back the House. This is obvious to anyone who spends anytime at all paying attention to politics.

If Lee is re-elected, he will be ranked under 400 for sure.

Anonymous said...

to last anonymous...
"obvious"? Hardly. not to many astute political observers. While Nancy Pelosi is measuring the drapes for the speakers office, the GOP is getting the vote out. You probably thought Kerry was a "sure thing" in 04 too.

Saner minds say "possible". But sense when have you rabid, tie-died liberals ever been sane?

Sker said...

These rankings were developed by folks who didn't get in early on the "independent pollster" wave. It's a way to get attention from inside the beltway, and a way to make lots of money while influencing the national debate. I like and agree with the argument that Chafee and Nelson are equally powerless as turncoats. I think the merits of their careers are revelatory enough - these power rankings are just a power play by the powerless.

Anonymous said...

All I know is 96 is higher than 100, which is what Petey would be. It's Nebraska for godsakes. We elect mediocrity and are proud of it. When we mess up and actually send quality to DC, they get hammered by the mediocracy that permeates the local feed mill (Hagel and/or Kerrey).

Anonymous said...

Regarding the sizzle factor:

Hagel introduced a Social Security bill that was a carbon copy of a Bob Kerrey bill introduced previously (that Hagel opposed at the time it had Kerrey's name on it). This act of courage got him plenty of press, three front pagers in the World-HAgel and weekend show appearances that boosted his "score" in this at best questionable ranking.

Look up Hagel's bill today: NOT ONE COSPONSOR. The Finance Committee hasn't even read it. NOTHING GOT DONE - NOTHiNG's CHANGED.

Now, Nelson on the other hand, negotiated directly with President Bush on his plan - he may have signle-handedly staved off privatization of Social Security as a result. But that's not reflected in the "rankings."

So ask yourself, do you want a sunday talking head or someone who is at the table when things get done (tax cuts, Rx Drug plan) or even when they don't get done (SS Reform, health insurance)?

I think most Nebraskans know the truth. Ben Nelson gets things done and doesn't care who gets the credit.

Anonymous said...

It's funny you focus on these ratings - created by and for washington insiders as opposed to actual voters.

they had a chance to weigh in recently - via Survey USA opinion polls and Nelson ranks 21 on "net approval". Hagel by contrast is a merely at 31.

I wonder which rankings ultimately matter more ...

Street Sweeper said...

Assuming you can get elected -- the Power Rankings. You can be the most popular guy in your state, but if you can't get the job done in DC, you're ineffective.

Anonymous said...

again, according to a group that is run by a guy who admits his methodology is flawed. strong source, that.

Anonymous said...

these power rankings are flawed - even the founder of the company that does them said so.

Sounds to me like a candidate who endorses the National Sales Tax, then realizes how stupid it is, says he didn't called his opponent a liar for reminding voters he did, still cant make up his mindon the issue and claims everyone is picking on him.

That's not effective - as you can see by Ricketts failure to capitalize on his voter registration advantage, his money advantage, his operation advanatage and the polls showing him losing by at least 20.

Is that the kind of effective NE wants? A guy born with every advantage in life, but cant keep a job other than at Daddy's company. A guy who got passed over for a promotion, got paid off with 10 million in severence and turned around and spent it on the worst political campaign in history?

I think not. My guess is on election day they stick with the guy who balanced eight state budgets, cut taxes and spending,DELIVERED ALL SIX tax cuts at the federal level (that's right, none of them would have happened if Nelson didn't negotiate the first one) balanced the state budget once from DC when Gov Mike couldn't do it, straightened out the military's deployment policies in Iraq, negotiated the deal that established the Department of Homeland Security, and delivered key earmarks that have secured Offutt AFB's future.

Is that effective enough for you?

Street Sweeper said...

You forgot about how Ben invented yarn and paved the first road in McCook with oatmeal and a bag of hay.

Oh, and then his little iddy bitty mistake in Boyd County.

Yup, Offutt would be a the new Southroads Mall if it weren't for Nellie's ingenuity. Uh huh. What else did the Dem talking points tell you?

Anonymous said...

Voting for Senate in Nebraska this year is like trying to choose between a douchebag and a terd sandwich.

This sucks.

I calla redo.

Paging Dave Kramer, line 1. Paging Kramer...

ptg said...

The less a legislator does, the safer the rest of us are from having to suffer the effects of their stupidity and/or treachery.

talking points??? said...

Talking points??? Coming fromthe guy who spits out the Ricketts rhetoric when ever the attack poodle tells im too?

No, sorry. every one of those accomplishments I read in the newspapers - yes Nebraska newspapers. and National newspapers.

I can send links if your Google button doesn't work.

Street Sweeper said...

REALLY. So being the last guy to fall off the fence means he DELIVERED the votes, eh? And NEWSPAPERS confirm that for you, do they? Well then it must be true! B/c I'm sure the OWH is just wavering on who they're going to endorse.

And funny how NONE of that is mentioned in the OWH articles about ALL Nellie's legislative successes. Hmm...

talking points said...

Sweeper - its too bad you let the Ricketts talking points and his staff of leeches and bullies influence your thinking. "Last to fall off the fence?" To think that wouldbe to ignore reality and the media reports that back up Nelson's record. I guess you missed the Journal Star endorsement today? it spellsit all out for you. Should I try to get someone to read it to you?

Street Sweeper said...

Leeches and bullies?

talking points said...

Yes - leeches and bullies - Doesn't Jessica Moenning get about $12,000 A MONTH? IF that ain't leeching - especially considering the quality of her work - I dont know what is.

And yes bullies - did you see Ricketts video where he blows up at the candidate forum last week? Notice the little Ricketts-mafia trying to block the camera - harassing the camera man? They o it all the time. Bullies. and Leeches. sucking Pete and his checkbook dry in the worst run most negative and most vapid campaign in the history of the state of Nebraska. Leeches and bullies.

Oh, and sweeper - you didn't answer my question. Did you read (or have someone read to you) the Journal Star editorial laying out Nelson's role in the tax cuts? If you don't beleive them, go read the Kearney Hub. They endorsed Nelson too. This time based on how effective he is for Kearney.

$14 million cant fool all of the people all of the time.

Street Sweeper said...

OK, “talking points”, I’ll take the bait – this time. In general we have no desire to sit around and parse out every vote. That’s not the goal of this blog, and we’re really not that interested. But since you seem to be waving the LJS’s endorsement as some sort of Gospel of Nelson, let’s quote from it regarding the point you’re dying to make:

“Much has been made in Nelson’s election battle with Republican Pete Ricketts about Nelson’s key vote for President Bush’s tax cuts. Bush himself singled Nelson out as one of two Democrats who joined the Republicans in passing the package.”

So, once again, Ben Nelson fell off the fence to join in, in an election year, with the Republicans. “Key vote”? Well if “key” means “last”, then Ben’s your man! Ben apparently wasn’t the first in line, and had to be cajoled to vote for it. And it seems to me, if there had been another Republican in there, instead of a DINO, the point would be moot anyway. This whole line of reasoning that he’s “effective” because he comes over to the GOP when he needs some red meat for his campaign is idiotic.

And, your insipid throw-away lines about the Ricketts staff doesn’t even deserve a response, but I’ll be happy to stick up for them, as frankly I would for most campaign staffers – who work ridiculous hours for crappy pay, in a job that lasts a few months, that could maybe turn into another job with crappier pay.

Jessica Moenning is managing a $20 million dollar campaign (or whatever the latest number is). I have no idea what she’s making, but if it is actually $12K/month, that may be too little. You and the rest of the whiners out there who are firing off their letters to the editor about the “negative campaigning” (oh, my gosh!!!! Poor meeee!) have no idea what a campaign is like, let alone a negative one. As far as I can see the Ricketts and Nelson staffs are working hard at what campaigns do, of which only a minuscule part is the freaking commercials which you glom on to.

And, yes, I saw the YouTube spot the Dems were so jumpy about. I saw Pete Ricketts stand up to defend himself from the hatchet job Jim Fagin was delivering. And at no time did Pete lose his cool or “scream” as your Liar in Chief, Rubin, crowed. I did not see any Ricketts people near the camera, but if they were, so what? Tell your hound dog and his little cheering section he clearly had with him, to stake out a better position. If that’s your definition of a bully, you must have had real issues about your lunch money getting taken back in the day.

But what I DID see was Nelson’s jack-ass spokesman Fagin puff out his chest and threaten to “take the chrome” off Pete’s bumpers. First of all, who talks like that? And second, if Fagin is so freaking cocky, let’s see him step up to Pete. He was standing right there. As near as I could tell – well the video was conveniently cut off as Pete as about to speak – Pete left with all the chrome he came with.

And you know, last time I checked, Nelson has spent a few bucks on his campaign as well. The difference is, he’ll have every one of those donors coming back to him (should he win) with their hands out.

Good night.

talking points said...

Jeez sweep did I touch a nerve?

As far as campaign workers go - I agree with you and cant believe I said so.

But as far as Moenning goes you cant really be serious. "Managing a $20 million dollar campaign"? Cmon- the hardest part of the campaign is fundraising. With the Ricketts campaign they have it down to a 4-digit PIN number. Andas far as Nelson being beholden to his doners that's crap and you know it. AreLee terry andChuck Hagel beholden to donors? Does Chuck Hagel owe anything to the donors who give him money thathe then turns around and gives to pro-choice candidates and Democratic Congressmen? And what happened to Pete's "I'm investing in my campaign so others will too" message? When others didn't he changed it. That's leadership and good campaign manangement.

The message/media of the campaign is coming from Senator Hagel - his consultant and his ethically challenged Chief of Staff. How do I know this? Because the entire race has been a rehash of 1996 contest. All Jessica does every day is take her marching orders from others - she's hardly a manager.

But to her credit - she has done a fair job at complaining about Pete's house getting tp'd. Good for her. And if she were really in charge, and allowing the campaign to go this way - soooo negative, without a message, changing tactics, talking points and even ad styles nearly every day - then no, she's not worth the money.

I'm glad you aknowledged the LJS editorial. You left out some parts but you and I know the truth even if you wont write it )I know, you're not a journalist, your a "blogger"). And, if you dont beleive the LJS there's always the Kearney Hub to back up Nelson's record of effectiveness.

Im sorry I touched such a nerve with you. That was an admirable defense of campaign workers, even though I didn't attack the "workers" - but you did - calling someone a "hound dog" in an interesting irony.

I hope I didnt upset you enough that you didn't sleep. We wouldnt want a cranky Sweeper on our hands now would we?

I drink with Esch said...

Bravo sweeper! You took the chrome off talking points' bumper. TP, pack up and go home while you can still save a shred of your dignity.

Street Sweeper said...

Well, “talking points” you can point to editorials all you want, but saying “he’s effective” doesn’t make it so, any more than your vapid claims about “knowing the truth”.

And you don’t like “Hound Dog”, huh? I thought that would be a term of affection. Hmm, well, we KNOW you don’t like “Macacca”, so I guess that’s out. OK, how about “Happy Smiley Super Gooder”. Is that soft enough for you?

And when you call campaign staff “leeches and bullies”, that’s an attack, no matter how you want to weasel your way out.

talking points said...

Sweep man you are testy these days. But this was fun.

Sure I called them leeches and bullies. that's what they are. Everyone who works in politics in NE knows it, they know it, you know it, the only one who doesn't know it is Pete. Maybe you should tell him. Whisper it in his ear.

And again, you avoided most of my points - and ended wit ha flourish of personal attacks. funny, but substance-wise, insufficient.

when can I get my chrome back?

PS: To I drink with Esch: Is that supposed to be some badge of honor?

Street Sweeper said...

"talking points" it's sweet how you get worked up by someone being called a "hound dog", then try to smear the entire Ricketts staff.

You were the one responsible for burning those signs weren't you? Come on, just admit it. You know it, they know, Barry knows it. Everyone knows it. Just turn yourself in. You can whisper your confession right here.

talking points said...

No sweep, it wasnt me. I think everyone knows the Ricketts campaign toilet papered Pete's house and burned those signs and vandalized all those signs on tv t otry to blame Nelson. The giveaway was the "vote Democratic" sign left as a calling card in Ricketts lawn. A sign that could be downloaded for free from the DNC webpage and a sign that hasn't appeared in NE before or since.

Now that everybody has taken down the Ricketts yard signs there aren't anymore to burn anyway.

This election is going to be like the 1960 presidential election. whatever the turnout is, years from now everyone you ask will claim to have voted for Nelson and nobody will admit voting for Pete.

Hounddog - jackass - leeches - and bullies will move on, but the Ricketts campaign on a resume will be a kiss of death for a future in politics.

200,000 voter registration advantage; superior political party apparatus, the entire GOP heirarchy in lockstep support of Pete, and an inexhaustible supply of money - all wasted. Truly an embarrasment for the GOP establishment in NE - especially Chuck Hagel who made this a personal prirotiy and probably has more to lose than Pete and his checkbook.

but, call me crazy or call me whatever you want - you'll be calling Ben Nelson "Sentor" on wendesday.

Street Sweeper said...

Well, we'll handle the election predictions, thanks.

But you couldn't be more wrong about working on the Ricketts campaign. This was a big time campaign, and having experience in a race like this -- win or lose -- is invaluable.

But we'll save our obits for this and other races for next week.

I drink with Esch said...

talking points:
no badge of honor... just wishful thinking. I hear Jimmy often buys, putting campaign funds to good use.

and you don't get your chrome back. As for our Senator, holding out your vote to see what you get out of it is not leadership, nor is it effective.