Thursday, December 14, 2006

Carlos and the Dominoes

Carlos Castillo

Governor Dave Heineman’s campaign manager, Carlos Castillo, has accepted a gig as the head of the Nebraska Department of Administrative Services. Notwithstanding Democrat Grand Poobah Steve Achelpohl’s apparent required bitching about it, we congratulate Castillo for getting out of day-to-day politics and into a pretty good normal position. (Heineman elevates campaign manager – OWH – 12/13/06.)

So what does Castillo’s departure mean for the Nebraska political scene?

Well for one, the word was that Attorney General Jon Bruning was interested in having Castillo run his 2008 Senate Campaign. Now we don’t know whether Castillo was ever seriously interested in that position -- particularly given the lack of love of Bruning by Heineman and Senator Chuck Hagel. But in any case he won’t be available now, and the cupboard is fairly bare of any available Republican full-time politicos who have run (successful) statewide Nebraska races.

We’re not sure what Mike Johanns’ and Tom Osborne’s former campaign manager Vicki Powell is up to these days – she was a Bruning “staffer” and thought to be heading up things for Bruning before she left for TO’s camp. Former Pete Ricketts manager Jessica Moenning has assured Leavenworth Street that she does not (yet) have any plans for 2008. And for what it’s worth, word is that Ricketts is dying to jump back in for 2008, for one office or another. Does the fact that both of those politicos ran disastrous campaigns mean they’re damaged goods?

Would Bruning then go out-of-state for someone to run his campaign? It’s not unheard of, and while Nebraska knowledge can be important, actual campaign experience is crucial as well. Jeff Fortenberry went out of state for his campaign manager. And of course there are always Nebraskans who want a chance to prove themselves on the larger stage as well, such as Dan Huber or Jamie Karl from Adrian Smith’s camp, Jordan McGrain who ran Omaha City Councilman Jim Vokal’s campaign and other legislature campaigns or even Sam Fischer who ran David Kramer’s U.S. Senate campaign.

But Bruning apparently has had some success in getting his ’08 Senate campaign rolling: word is that he has lured away Rep. Lee Terry’s fundraiser for a Bruning Omaha campaign office (though fundraisers are known to be a little more fungible in the campaign world.)

And for what it’s worth in the larger political universe, some of the national political watchers (in this case the National Journal Hotline guys) still aren’t willing to recognize that Hagel will have real opposition. And we continue to watch the dominoes fall…


Uncle Wiggily said...

Re your last paragraph - I can't speak about the eastern part of the state, but out here in the Third my Aunt Agatha could beat Chuck Hagel - for whatever office he might choose to run for.

Between his constant whining about the Administration, and then smooching with Kofi in Kansas a couple days ago, the Chuckster has pretty much fouled his nest out here.

I haven't voted for a Democrat since God was a corporal, but I will NOT vote for Hagel ... and I've got a lot of company.

Street Sweeper said...

UW, it's our belief that at least Jon Bruning will give you the option to vote for someone other than Hagel in the primary.

Great stuff on your site, btw, that everyone should check out:

One Out In The Third said...

Hmmm...Heineman and Hagel aren't singing Kumbaya around the fire with Bruning? Bruning's stock just jumped.

OmaSteak said...

Here's an idea for an in-state campaign manager for a Bruning 08 senate race, Chris Donnelly. He did a good job running Dave Friend's mayoral campaign with almost no money...which shouldn't be the case in a Bruning senate campaign if Hagel chooses not to run again. There used to be a website/organization in SD before they managed to: (1) forced Tom to abandon at the very last second a presidential run; and (2) finally unseated him from the senate. Is there a website/organization out there yet??? Hagel isn't faced with an either/or decision when it comes to running 2 campaigns for federal office...and I doubt the NE legislature is going to pass a Dashcle Bill in this upcoming session (unfortunately IMHO). I'd also suggest that Jon would be smart to put the campaign webmaster on staff rather than farming it out. Will save him money in the long run and will give him a real edge in the campaign. Other than Hagel, IMHO any other potential Republican senate candidate is wasting their time thinking about a run against Bruning for an open senate seat.

Anonymous said...

We will see a Bruning for Senate campaign if, and only if, Hagel and Mike Johanns decline to run. Should the gate be opened for Mr. Bruning, he will be in the driver's seat. No other Republicans are even on the radar. Not Ricketts. Not Kramer. Not even Hal Daub, despite his coordinated, choreographed effort earlier this month to shoot a warning shot over Bruning’s bow.

What we are witnessing on the eve of the ‘08 race is not a struggle for the State GOP’s soul. After all, Bruning, Hagel and Johanns are much alike in their political philosophies -- all being only slightly right of center. The struggle will be over the future of the State GOP’s leadership, and the question of who pulls the strings from behind the scenes. For my money, I bet that the Old Guard will be replaced. Hagel has no desire to be a three-term man. Johanns has lost his passion for D.C.

In the meantime, if Nebraska Republicans want a stronger conservative in D.C., they need to convince Dave Heineman to run.

Ed Randolph

Street Sweeper said...

You're certainly entitled to your opinion Ed, but we're hearing Bruning is running no matter if Hagel is in or not.

Though I'd agree that if Johanns jumps in that makes things muddier.

mom at home said...

I have asked the question multiple times and been told multiple times that, in Nebraska, your name cannot appear on the ballot for more than one elected office. Apparently, we are in need of an actual statute site on this subject to put an end to the rumor mill on Hagel running for two offices at once.

An additional point would be that of Mr. Donnelly. I don't recall the last race he ran that was a winner. It wasn't Friend, he was unsuccessful at the Douglas County Republican Party, he was heavily involved in Daub's last run AND was not an ASSet for Steve Kupka for Congress. Why would a person as successful as Bruning want to take on that kind of resume.

Whatever Chris is doing now, he should stick to it.

Now, back to my lunch packing!

Anonymous said...

Expect Chuck Hagel to announce his intentions before Jan. 1. And expect Jon Bruning to have a grin on his face when Hagel officially announces he is running for president.

If ever there was a cylcle when a Nebraskan could pose as a serious White House contender, this is the time. The odds are long, but Hagel could "pull a Fortenberry" on a national scale. That is, while McCain, Giuliani, Romney and Brownback split the GOP primary vote, Hagel could slip through the cracks with only 25% support or less.

Placed in the national spotlight alongside a Democrat like Hillary or Barack Hussein Obama, and Hagel -- with his overwhelmingly conservative voting record -- will win.

You heard it here first.


D.C. Insider
Originally from Ashland, Neb.

ptg said...

Quite the frightening scenario you paint, DC Insider. The operational words are "pose as a serious White House contender". Its Chuck H in a nutshell.