Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bruning’s Flag-Football Strategy

Today Attorney General Jon Bruning strode to a podium adorned with a “Bruning for Senate” sign at the Nebraska capitol and did one of the most unexpected things of the political year:

He threw his son’s flag-football coach under the bus.


Yup, Bruning stepped up and related a story about watching his eight-year-old son’s football game, and that his son’s coach was terrible, didn’t know what he was doing and obviously didn’t know anything about football.

The humble AG then apparently took the reins of the team and they did…much better? (We really don’t know. And wouldn’t you know that the Nebraska press didn’t pose any follow up questions on that. Sheesh. Where’s Tom Shatel when you need him?) [Update: Joe Jordan says Bruning told him the team went 4 and 1. Though Jordan also failed to interview the old coach...]

The point of the story was supposed to be that when Bruning sees something that needs fixing he takes action instead of just criticizing.

But the real point to take away is that Bruning is not above throwing anyone under the bus. Not the poor football coach that Bruning hammered and certainly not Senator Chuck Hagel (though no one is really crying for Hagel).

The Flag-Football strategy has been the overall theme of the Bruning campaign thus far. Bruning’s opening statement today was, “I will beat Senator Hagel in the primary in May.” Well…except that Hagel may not run.

And that is the problem Bruning has going right now. He has made the campaign: If you hate Chuck Hagel, I’m your guy. If you like Chuck Hagel, I’m absolutely NOT your guy.

But in this goofy spring of 2007, Hagel has given numerous hints that he’s not really even interested in running for re-election. Sure he hosted a big funder last month, but that cash can still go to a Presidential campaign. And today, we hear about former Governor and current Ag Secretary Mike Johanns attending the Nebraska Breakfast at the U.S. Capitol. Only the second time he’s ever been. (Johanns attends Nebraska Breakfast day before Bruning announcement – OWH – 6/7/07.) Ain’t that a coincidence?

So what happens with the Flag-Football Plan? Well, it has effectively driven a wedge between Bruning and every Hagel supporter. Instead of being an alternative to Hagel for many, Bruning has instead become the enemy. And if Hagel drops out, there will be plenty of alternatives for Hagel supporters to choose from – not the least being Johanns.

What if Hagel stays in the race? Again, no true Hagel supporter is going to switch to Bruning. Do the blasting negatives Bruning has doled out really help him that much with the rest of the voters? It may get a few people to perk up their ears when the subjects of immigration and impeachment are raised. But do Nebraskans really cotton to remarks like “Hagel’s not a real Nebraskan” and “provides poor constituent services”? It’s one thing to hear those negatives tossed out by a surrogate; it’s another to hear that kind of vitriol coming from the candidate himself.

Things will get interesting once Hagel finally makes his call, supposedly around Labor Day (see our counter up on the right). But one thing is for sure this summer: Bruning’s son’s Little League Coach better watch out.


David Brent said...

Jon presented an interesting contrast today.

While Hagel was dining at The Palm in D.C. with Mayor Bloomberg to discuss an independent run for president, Jon was visiting a coffee shop in Alliance to listen to Nebraskans.

There is no better illustration of how out of touch Hagel has become. The Palm is important to Hagel. Coffee shops in small Nebraska towns are important to Jon.

durapatcher said...

You are correct about one thing DB, Bruning does present an interesting contrast...a politician that announces he is running for U.S. Senate while raising money in New York City. At least Sen. Hagel's makes his announcements and non-announcements in Nebraska. I predict that we will all find out how important New York-not coffee shops in small Nebraska towns-are to Bruning when he finally releases his FEC report.

I would encourage everyone to watch both the announcement and Q and A at The Q and A is hilarious. JB has a problem when confronted with facts.

Congressional Quarterly did give Hagel a 95.5% rating supporting GW in '06.

Hagel is supporting GW on the immigration compromise...not the Democrats.

The closest Bruning will ever come to being a senator...well was from 1996 to 2002.

Anonymous said...

judging by the interest of this board to bruning's announcement...i would have to say bruning is in trouble.


spike strip said...

i thought it was very strange that the state treasurer introduced bruning. then i realized that osborn:

1. challenged an incumbent in last year's gop primary;
2. has made no secret about his desire to be a congressman;
3. despises the negop as much if not more than bruning; and
4. is not satisfied with his current gig.

i envision a similar announcement later this summer with the rolls reversed. bruning introducing osborn to be the next 1st district congressman primary challenging fortenberry.

they will run a change washington unity campaign against carpetbaggers.

my advice to gop stalwarts - batten down the hatches.

everyone else should sit back and enjoy the sideshow brought to you courtesy of a couple ambitious thirty-somethings.

David Brent said...

Durapatcher, you really missed.

FEC disclosures reveal that EVERY U.S. Senator has received money from a New York City donor. Hagel's fourth largest contributor is a Wall Street firm.

Interested readers should to go to to review FEC filings.

If this is the best critics can come up with, Jon could not be off to a better start.

ptg said...

Jon is a nice kid. Who can fail to admire such ambition in a young politician? Jon carries his so much better than Hagel. Spike strip is right, it will be something to sit back and enjoy.

Anonymous said...

1) Is Osborn far enough north to be in Fort's District?

2) People don't like it when you don't serve a full term before trying to fulfill the stars in your eyes

3) Somehow????the 1st likes Fortenberry.

Street Sweeper said...

Don't know where Osborn lives, though I would be shocked to see him challenge Fort.