Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Politician of the Year

Like most sports, Politics is more often that not, a TEAM sport. With that in mind, Leavenworth Street's 2008 Nebraska Politician of the Year, is turning into the plural:

The David Sokol Cabal

Not since the City of Lincoln stole the state capital from Omaha has there been as bold a power move that went on in Omaha just prior to the 2008 College World Series.

David Sokol, Chairman of MidAmerican Energy, possible successor to Warren Buffet at Berkshire, and mainly (in this scenario) member of the Omaha's MECA board that oversees the Qwest Center (and now the new College World Series Stadium) had been a thorn in the side of Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey.

Fahey had been dealing with the NCAA about whether to tear down the venerable Rosenblatt Stadium, where to put a new one, how it should be done. But Sokol, arguably better connected to the NCAA than Fahey, kept pushing on the details.

Fahey wanted to put it in Lot D. MECA -- with Sokol and Hal Daub leading the way -- wouldn't let him. Fahey tried once before to change the makeup of MECA -- to put it under the Omaha city government, but failed.

But after Sokol messed with his voter registration, Fahey saw his big chance. Because he was technically no longer an Omahan, Fahey booted Sokol off the board!

For a day.

And then what happened?

The REAL mayors of Omaha put their collective feet down.
We'll call them the Sokol Cabal. You can guess the names that had their input.
We'll just say that it's possible (we're not saying it's a "fact" for all you litigators out there) that their initials could be MY or WS or even -- yes even -- WB.

And then Mike Fahey's office put out a meek little statement that said he was told to put Sokol back on the board, and that was exactly what he was doing.

And we never heard another peep.

That friends, is a political POWER play.

And that earns the Sokol Cabal the title of Leavenworth Street Nebraska Politicians of the Year.


But wait! Why isn't the PotY?...

Mike Johanns

We had a lot of assumptions that MJ would be the easy pick for 2008. However, after consideration, we decided that his year wasn't 2008 -- it was 2007.

2007 was the year that Mike Johanns won his Senate race. Returning to Nebraska from his seat as Ag Secretary, Johanns pushed out all other serious contenders.

Back to his (temporary?) post as New York New School President went Cosmic Bob Kerrey.
Over to a Mayoral run went Hal Daub.
Back to the AG's office went Jon Bruning.
Heck, out of the party went Tony Raimondo.

And from there on Johanns was able to run a purely positive campaign, running the more than ten points ahead that he always was.

And partly it's not Johanns's fault that he's not PotY. Part of the blame has to go to Democrat candidate Scott Kleeb. Had he run an actual race against Johanns, things might have worked out differently. Kleeb might have only lost by ten points (like against Adrian Smith).

Instead, Kleeb pretended like he was ten points ahead, running his generic ads about roping and cowboying and fathering and Nebraska values. He forgot that he needed to attack Johanns in order to beat him -- to give voters a reason to change their minds.

And the funny thing is that Kleeb had no problem attacking Johanns in debates, or in the press. But Kleeb badly lost the ad war and gave the race to Johanns on a silver platter.

And for that reason, we give Johanns extra props for his moves in 2007 (and await them in 2009)...


Some others from 2008...

Nebraska Team Obama

There was a point in the Presidential race of 2008 where politicos were pointing to Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District -- where Electoral Votes were famously split -- and questioning whether the 2nd could be THE battle ground of an evenly split Presidential race.

But Congressman Lee Terry's campaign manager David Boomer (at least we think it was Boomer) pointed out that while the 2nd was likely Republican, it could go to Obama -- but only if he didn't really need it.
And that's just what happened.

So with that in mind, we have to give Nebraska's Obama campaign team much credit and kudos for grabbing that Electoral vote -- but only when it didn't really matter.

We doff our caps to John Berge (pictured, right) and the vols who registered voters and got them to the polls -- early!

But in the end, we couldn't give them the PotY. Why? Because they couldn't get their voters to follow through with the prize that actually mattered in the end: the Congressional Seat. And that's why we also cite...


Team Lee Terry

"Obama-Terry Voter Anyone?"

It was a quote heard round the internets, whenever writers wanted to cite a Republican who was willing to reach out to Obama voters.

The funny thing was, Terry campaign manager David Boomer's ad was (initially anyway) only placed in a little Omaha arts magazine with a readership of the coffee-house and clubbing crowd.

But it picked up steam.

And, as the ad-war showed, Terry wasn't about to take 2008 lying down, like he had in 2006 against the unknown Jim Esch.

Esch turned his back on his old promise to not take dirty-filthy PAC money, and thus was able to wage a real ad war himself.

And then came in Big Daddy Barack.

With the Obama camp pouring money and volunteers and offices into the Omaha metro, Esch was ready to be a hobo on that gravy train and ride the rails to Washington.

Except that he was Jim Esch.

And the Terry campaign didn't let the voters forget that.

So when faced with being represented by a hard-working family man who had proved himself a reasonable legislator versus a trust-fund party-boy who was looking for a new adventure, voters decided you could only have so much "change".

Say what you want, but Team Terry pulled it out.


Team Mike Fahey

Team Fahey? Well, was there ever really a Fahey move without Paul Landow?

We've listed above what went down with Fahey when he tried his power move against the Movers & Shakers.

And we've all watched as Fahey has dealt with leveling Rosenblatt, dealing with a recall, building a new stadium, dealing with the Royals, dealing with NoDo businessmen...

And then cashing it all in.

Because Fahey's legacy will no doubt be the new College World Series Stadium. And who knows what that will be like?

Oh sure, we can look at the architect's plans and see the new shiny thing.

But you know what? In ten years, it won't be shiny anymore. Heck in two years the luster of the newness will have faded.

And what will it REALLY be like? Will the carnival atmosphere that so many loved still be there? Will there be easy parking? Will there stifling heat (with no top-of-the-hill Rosenblatt breezes)? Will NoDo businesses pop up to bring the area alive?

And what about the other eleven months? Will it sit empty? Will the NCAA allow other events? (We'll just assume that Dennis Poppe will frown on a Toboggan Run from the scoreboard into second base.) Will there be professional baseball? Can NoDo survive without it as an anchor? Will the costs plague the city?

Whenever these questions, and all the others, are asked and answered, people will look back to Fahey.
Heck maybe it should be called Fahey Stadium.

Just be careful that people don't spit when they say it.


And 2009?

We got the Omaha Mayor's race heating up, and will no doubt get white-hot.

We've already got maneuvering for the 2010 Governors race -- and if you remember the moves that happened for the Senate race the year before, you know 2009 will be big for the Guv's seat.

And surprises? There are always surprises.
That's what makes politics fun.
And that's why we're here.
And why you're here.
And why we'll see you next year.

Happy New Year and thanks for coming to Leavenworth Street!

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Anonymous said...

Marc Kraft is the politician of the year. Who would have seen that train wreck winning!!!

Anonymous said...

Loser of the Year:

Chris Peterson

Wake up, people!

/s NE Voter

asecurityguard said...

Sokal? A little bit of a stretch im my opinion. Terry? He gets props for winning the CD2 seat, but its a little puzzling to see his opponent slandered here and called every name in the book, and call it a great accomplishment when Terry wins.

Street Sweeper said...

Slandered? Where and when, exactly?

And who, ASG, would you propose?

Anonymous said...

Ernie Chambers is the POY..

Don said...

To Chris Peterson: Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

To Scott Klebb: Hahahahhahahahahhahahahhahahahahhahahahahhahahahahhahahah!!!!

Anonymous said...

Dirty politics by a Republican (Johanns) and his staff. Go figure!! Let's' hope the shine on that fake little grin of Mikey's gets removed as he faces a Democratic Majority and the learns his BS actually will smell and be given a lot of light.

Chris Peterson...what a frickin's loser!!

Anonymous said...

Okay, I guess I am a little slow on the uptake what with kids being home for 2 weeks solid and so much Holidaying, but who actually won Politician of the Year?

Anonymous said...

Looks like a 23 yr old kid by the name of Nathaniel Edwards is running against Franklin Thompson. Kinda interesting...

Anonymous said...

Why do you guys love Terry Lee so much. He's so insignificant and you all make him out as some political giant. He's done nothing and he will still get nothing done of any importance. He just says he'll cut taxes and give everything to big business and he will continue to win election after election. Come on, Second district you deserve better than this guy! THINK!

Anonymous said...

So if ya don't like Terry, even though the people have voted him in for the 10 years running, get a better candidate to run.

Of course you could try to remove Sarpy County from the district..... not going to happen.

Or just go upstairs and ask your mommy for some hot choc and go back to your soaps.

Anonymous said...

what is up with chris peterson?

Pandora said...

"Looks like a 23 yr old kid by the name of Nathaniel Edwards is running against Franklin Thompson. Kinda interesting..."

His facebook profile is certainly interesting to say the least...
Max Yashirin anyone?

BB said...

Don't throw around legal terms that you don't understand. Slander can only be in spoken form and libel can only be in written form. And it is neither of these if there is truth to what is said and/or written. So I would ask you, what exactly about SS's characterization of the trust-fund party boy is untrue? Your lack of understanding of basic legal terms makes me wonder if you are actually Jim himself.

Anonymous said...

At least Yashirin doesn't claim to be 'King of Canada' like Nathaniel Edwards...yeash

Anonymous said...

Chris Peterson broke countless FEC laws. Hmmmmm, too bad he now is out of work and I doubt anyone in Nebraska would be stupid to hire this dummie.

Chris - leave the state for your own good.

Anonymous said...

No question, its got to be the Obama campaign in Omaha. Historic!

Anonymous said...

Well shame on us all! The real politician of the year should have been Jim Vokal! He spent $28,000 or so to beat a $100 citation for an election violation. Come on; Jim you MUST be joking! This wasn't Larry Craig looking for a hookup in the men's room for crying out loud...ok, that was a $300 fine and so Jim would have spent $84,000 to fight that one. OK! I'm sorry but it's the overkill of the decade and to be honest, I wonder given this excessive, win at any cost "victory", how Jim will behave as mayor. Win at any cost is expensive, and while I admire his determination to keep his reputation brightly polished, it's a bit like dropping a nuke on the ants you found in the pantry. It smacks of obsessive compulsive disorder.

Anonymous said...

You put David Sokol as number one. Why? Rich people flexing their muscle is nothing new. The big surprise was how the Obama campaign won a part of Nebraska. Yes, we did! Historic indeed. People Power over big money!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:23

"People power over big money" Are you kidding me?!? How much did the Obama campaign spend on one electoral vote?

Anonymous said...

The point of the Vokal fight over the fine is that the Law was clearly on the campaign's side and he should never have been fined in the first place. Shame on the A&D Commission in Lincoln for going rogue and fining him in the first place. His fight was paid for with private funds, but the A&D's fight against him was funded with public dollars! Choke on that one Anon.
This ruling has made it clear as a bell what the LAW (you know, that little thing that rogue agencies like to ignore)says with regard to where an elected official is permitted to record himself or herself for purposes of campaigning. I would assume that no other candidate for Mayor would try to make an issue of the service that this candidate provided in challenging an unlawful fine?

As for Sokol compared to the Obama campaign as being first, I agree with Anon, maybe he one because it was the least expensive (but potentially most costly) political move of the year? As for the one candidate that wasted the most money on both sides of the aisle? Jim Esch, he overspent when all he had to do was be a credible candidate and ride the coattails of his Knight in Shining Armor-Obama. His spending forced spending by the Terry Campaign that could have been spent in other parts of the Country. All Esch had to do in the last 2 years is work a 40 hour a week job, attend as many public functions as he could and keep his nose clean (no pun intended-maybe). This would have gotten him further against Congressman Terry than any of the $50,000 that all the people with the last name Esch gave him.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why the Leavenworth Street blog named David Sokol as political player of the year? For rich connected white guys who have always run this town to exert their political influence is nothing new. (Remember Mike Harper of ConAgra?)

I think the big story was the Obama win in the Second District because it was historic and no one ever thought it could happen in Nebraska.

Yes We Can & Yes We Did!!!

Blue dots rule!!!

Anonymous said...

Did anybody catch the letter to the editor signed by Tom Osborne and Bruce Rasmussen ?
How David Sokol is such a great guy to give them so much money and mentor them?
And, in case you missed it, they took out a big ad in which they again mention what a great guy Sokol is.
That almost made me puke.
I was wondering who the real power brokers are in town MY = Mike Yanney? WS = Walter Scott?
WB = Warren Buffet?

How is this for an idea;

The new Mayor and City Council tear up the agreement between the NCAA, CWS inc, and the City of Omaha?
The new agreement will give the Mayor and Council the final say to decide what goes on in the new ballpark, not MECA.

MECA blew their chance when Sokol ticked off Alan Stein with his attitude when talking with the NCAA about the stadium.

I think Jim Vokal, for one, would look to re-examine the deal.

ricky from omaha

Anonymous said...


Has anybody checked to see if Mr. Sokol has, indeed, bought a house in Omaha after he sold his old one?
That was the move that brought Mayor Mike to question Sokols MECA appointment.
What do you want to bet that the king-maker of Omaha does not even live here?

Ricky From Omaha

Anonymous said...

Does half a floor in an Old Market redo count as buying a house? I am sure it cost at least double what my West O enclave did.

EJA said...

I noticed how you guys just glossed over the fact that Sokal was "technically" no longer an Omahan when Fahey dropped him from the board. I never ceases to amaze me how conservatives love to scream about the RULE OF LAW...until it doesn't suit their goals. Then the rule of law is just a technical annoyance, to be brushed aside by whoever has the biggest wallet. Sokal didn't "mess around" with his voter registration. He changed it, and he was no longer an Omahan.

Anonymous said...

Mike Boyle for politican of the year & decade!!

I wish he was back on the air at KKAR when he would call Republicans "Nazis" and tell them to get their crayons out or to open a window to get some air. Then the late Steve Brown would cut off his mic.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I agree with the comment on vokle. His need to kill a nat with an atom bomb is silly, and i too would wonder if that's how he would approach problems as mayor. i didn't think anybody could be heavier handed than former mayor Daub, but i guess i've been proved wrong.Vokle should have been pol of the year for 2008.