Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bruning vs Hagel

Retired Omaha World Herald publisher Harold Andersen must have had some inside beef when he wrote last Sunday in his vanity column that many Republicans think U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel should get a primary challenge if he decides to run for re-election.

Despite the fact that Andersen’s admitted survey sample was eight GOPers, there must have been a few in that octet who had a little knowledge of Attorney General Jon Bruning’s intentions.

In case you missed it, Bruning said that he may just challenge Hagel in a primary because, “he is upset with Hagel's criticism of President Bush and the Iraq war,” and that “he also is upset with Hagel's comments about Bush and impeachment,” (Bruning may yet take on Hagel in '08 – OWH – 4/19/07).

But let’s not pretend that it’s any recent statements by Hagel that have prompted Bruning to announce his (possible) move.

Hagel has been protesting the Iraq War since nearly the day he voted for it (if you follow). For over a year he has been considered the leading Republican against the war and has made any number of statements against the war and the President’s handling of it. So Bruning can’t now claim that he’s shocked – shocked! – by Hagel’s war position.

And then there’s the “impeachment” issue. Hagel’s interview in the April edition of Esquire Magazine was published on the web, and quoted by nearly every major news outlet on March 6, 2007. (Though contrary to Harold Andersen’s assertion, Hagel did not say that there was “talk of impeachment”.)

So EVERYONE knew what Hagel said at that point. Chuck Hagel then made his non-announcement-announcement on March 12. And on March 15 Bruning announced that he was thinking about running, but TWICE said he wouldn’t, if Hagel ran. Heck Bruning called himself a “Hagel guy”. This is the same Chuck Hagel who just nine days prior had used the “I-word” in reference to President Bush.

So what has changed for Bruning? Well, probably lots of people whispering in his ear that they don’t like what Hagel has been saying. And probably there’s more than a few of those people who have Tony Soprano-like wads of cash rolled up in their pockets and are telling Bruning that he could have access to said wad if he challenges Hagel. (And the fact that Hagel has only raised $100K for a re-election bid didn’t hurt either.)

But make no mistake: If you go after the King’s throne, you had better kill him, or you’ll be dead yourself. If Bruning does not defeat Hagel in the primary, it is career suicide for him. Oh, and Bruning better also make sure no one else jumps in, or as Harold Andersen also pointed out, they would split the anti-incumbent vote and Hagel would stroll in. (And don’t forget that Hal Daub, who also has announced that he’s thinking about the Senate, did this once before when he challenged sitting-Senator Dave Karnes.)

So old Harold Andersen – the man who once hoped for the appointment by Governor Orr to the Zorinsky seat that went to Karnes – and a confirmed Hagel-hater – seems to have had a few ducks in a row before last Sunday’s column. Hagel’s office is now saying that Bruning’s new statement won’t influence him on whether or not to run for President or re-election. But don’t be surprised if it does influence Hagel – to run specifically against Bruning to knock his block off.


Anonymous said...

Bruning (or someone else - maybe Johanns) will be able to beat Hagel in the primaries. The OWH is wrong when they say DC Republicans will support Hagel. As a DC Republican, I know that is not the case. (Although a few people owe Hagel favors for PAC money he funneled to their campaigns.)

ptg said...

Hagel won't get any help knocking Bruning's block off from me. I'm betting Chuck will retire.

Street Sweeper said...

For clarity's sake, Leavenworth Street doesn't necessarily think that Hagel WOULD (or wouldn't)knock Bruning's block, but the point being that Hagel would LIKE to do that.

OmaSteak said...

Another tidbit to throw into the mix from the Weird Harold is Fahey's upcoming fundraiser...purportedly for a run at third term as Mayor of Omaha. His minions were quick to not close the door on a democrat senate run again supposedly depending upon Hagel's decision. Hagel is waiting to see over the summer if the "surge" is going to work or not. If it does, his presidential ambitions are toast. If it doesn't, he's his own mind at least. While Hagel might give a challenge from Fahey some serious thought, I doubt he's very concerned at this point with any republican challengers. I'm sure his donor list is deep enough to make a serious attempt to once again sell NE voters on the concept that he's a "real" Nebraksan back there representing NE bedrock values. Once again, if the surge works he might as well retire as Bruning/Daub will likely kick Hagel's ass in the primary. All the while, Fahey, Landow and the rest of his minions will be shaking down anyone/everyone in Omaha that does or might do business with the city to raise another $2-3 million for whatever race Fahey chooses to enter. I think it will be Mayor again since they actually take and record attendance in the US Senate.

Eric said...

In light of his previous comments, I think it is a little early for Bruning to start going anti-Hagel. It makes all his moves seem so calculated and underhanded. I think he really needed a more intermediate step where he says he's continuing with the primary challenge regardless of what Hagel does "because of all the hunger for his leadership that he's been hearing about from supporters". There is plenty of time to be anti-Hagel later especially when he might not need to do it at all.

Anonymous said...

Jon Bruning just turned out the lights on the Hagel party. It's officially over.

Just one question: How did Hagel go from an 83% general election mandate in 2002 to high-profile primary challenges four years later, all while making a goofy, spineless, unprincipled Ben Nelson look good in the process? You gotta wonder.

Hagel (or perhaps political advisors) should write a book: "Political Life and How to Screw It Up"

-DC Insider
formerly of Ashland, NE

One Out In The Third said...

I think Bruning stands a good chance. Especially if Hagel thinks his stance on Iraq will pull him through. Hagel's stance doesn't play well in Paxton.

On a side note...our rising star out here in the Third had a little live "non-robo" conference call a couple nights ago mainly to discuss his findings from his recent trip to Iraq. About 800 folks participated and Congressman Smith threw a bone out the Thirders participating in the call, It was a straight forward one question survey that went something like this...Should Congress create a time table for troop withdrawal in Irag...Or should we stay the course? The response from the folks out in the Third was 2 to 1 in favor of staying the course...initially I thought it would go 50/50.

Mr. Smith opened the call for questions and several took advantage of his offer...but unfortunately after many questions he ran out of time with the queue still full.

It was a bold move to field questions on all issues that ranged from Nebraska's water problems to the war. Congressman Smith comported himself well and showed respect to all...even those with views that differed from his. There might have been one rude person from Hastings that was cut off...but it might have been a technical glitch. If Mr. Smith keeps his head on straight...and continues to learn the ropes...he will do Nebraska well.

Meanwhile...back at the was reported today that Urban Cowboy Scott Kleeb is indeed a History Professor at Hastings College with no intentions of leaving the state...I wish him a long tenure there. I have no report on Calamity Jane sitings. Noticed she had her lunch taken away on the Hannity and Colmes Show a couple weeks ago...all she could do is smile and shake her head.

One Out In The Third said...


Bruning better "grow some" cause "Wishy Washy" doesn't play in Wauneta.

Anonymous said...

Who has killed more people in Iraq? George Bush or Saddam? I'm behind Hagel. At least one Republican can think and is willing stand up for what is right.

realitycents said...

Gotta love the ol' campaign buttons!

Gets em' everytime.