Monday, April 06, 2009

City Council Pre-Primary Wrap

As we finish our pre-Election Day posts, we look at the rest of the City Council races.

(Note: These are all predictions, not endorsements.)

First we'd note that Chuck Sigerson has no opponent in District 7. Congratulations Chuck.

Then we look at the (essentially) two-person races, where both candidates will advance, though the winner on Tuesday will have a major upper hand:

Dist 1
Pete Festerson (D) vs. Sharon Chvala (R)
Festerson easy. We wish Chvala the best of luck, but we just don't see it happening.

Dist 2
Frank Brown (D) vs (mainly) Ben Gray (D).
Brown, though Gray could make a play.

Dist 4
Gary Gernandt (D) vs. Joseph Velasquez (D)
Gernandt easy.

Dist 6
Franklin Thompson (R) vs. Walt Peffer (R).

This race is interesting if only because the challenger, Peffer, has a little bit of name ID. Of course the name many may associate is from Sgt. Peffer's (outstanding) restaurant (originally on Saddle Creek, and now in Millard). The rest of Peffer's name ID comes from his time as former mayor P.J. Morgan's "Executive Assistant" (er, Chief of Staff?). Of course, that was a few years ago now.

But Peffer put out a mailer recently, where he touts himself as the "TRUE REPUBLICAN candidate" for City Council.

That had to raise and eyebrow on Republican City Councilman Franklin Thompson. Especially considering that almost all of Peffer's campaign contributions have come from (traditonally Democrat supporting) unions, and almost all of Peffer's campaign money has been paid to the "Pierce Group". Which would be Kris Pierce, former Executive Director of the Douglas County Democrats.

That's not to say Peffer can't have Republican values, and voting and all that. But that's gotta make one think, right?

In any case, we still think Thompson takes this with a bit of ease.

Dist 5
Jean Stothert (R) vs. Jon Blumenthal (R)

Are there some hot-button issues in this campaign between two Republicans? Has there been a major separation?

Oh sure, the Stothert forces have been bickering back and forth on the internets about Blumenthal's mailer claims. Blumenthal went on the offense about taking fire or police money.

But if there is something this campaign boils down to, we haven't seen it.

On the other hand Stothert lost a very close race for legislature. Built up name ID and a campaign organization from that. Has been on the Millard School board. And has spent a small truck load of cash on mailers and the like.

In a race like this, with no other significant separation, name ID is going to do it. And Stothert has built that up.

We pick her to pull it out on Tuesday.


Mex Roats said...

None of this has anything to do with me?!?! SS, i warned you not to make me mad...

Anonymous said...

Sharon Chvala is a republican.

Street Sweeper said...

Sorry about that. Typo.
Editing in a moment.

millard repub said...

Why nothing on Jean's record of raising property taxes on the Millard School Board? Why nothing on Jean's stated position of supporting public funding of abortion?

Street Sweeper said...

Go for it.

Plagerized comment said...

Magic 8-ball agrees Stothert is a "Driving Force" in Dist 5

Anonymous said...

Two further corrections needed:

Kris Pierce is the former Executive Director of the Douglas County Democratic Party. He was never the Chair. He now runs his own political consulting firm.

Also, I'm pretty sure that Walt Peffer's restaurant business was Pefferoni's, not Sgt. Peffer's (which is awesome).

/s NE Voter

Anonymous said...

Millard Repub...Skinner

No one buys your line. It's tired and old and inaccurate.

I was actually wondering why Sweeper didn't use the "For 15 years Jon Blumenthal has been a driving force behind Omaha's economic growth..." mailer?

Also, it seems the big spending introduction and the 7th and final question are missing from Blunenthal's you tube debate footage?

Street Sweeper said...


Noted and edited on Pierce.

The point on Sgt. Peff's is more the family name than any specific ownership. We'd look into it further, but frankly don't have the time.

(And if you can't tell, we're working and blogging on the fly. It's very exciting...)

Inflated resume said...

I think your wrong Sweeper. Blumenthal is the best man for the job.

Street Sweeper said...

Commenter's tongue in cheek or not, please note that these aren't endorsements; just predictions.

Anonymous said...

So Chuck Sigerson endorsed Peffer? I'm a little surprised. Anyone else?

Anonymous said...

Don't forget, Nebraskans United for Life gave their sole endorsement to Blumenthal. Stothert wasn't able to dupe them like Nebraska Right to Life.

Ricky said...

Are there any Democrats in District 6 besides yours truly?

Councilman Thompsons mailing listed about 8 prominent Republicans as endorsing FT. The Pfeffer mailing claims HE is the "true" Republican.
I thought the race for City Council was non-partisan?

Do the problems Omaha face have anything to do with which candidate is the best Republican?

That's insulting to all of us here in District 6, especially us Dems.

Looks like "who lost the Royals" will be an issue in the General. FTs mailing claims he tried to get the council to force a vote of the people for the downtown stadium. (I don't remember that).

Pfeffers ads scoff at the notion of the expensive stadium without a tenant.

Why would Chuck Sigerson come out against a fellow City Councilman anyway?

ricky from District 6

Anonymous said...

Stothert didn't ask for their endorsement.

She is endorsed by Nebraska Right to Life.

Anonymous said...

Stothert didn't ask for their endorsement because their questions are a truer test of who is pro-life. C'mon, Stothert folks, you know this is a charade by a candidate desperate to get elected to any office she can.

Anonymous said...

She didn't ask? Why would such a "pro-life" politician give the finger to one of Omaha's biggest grass roots pro-life organizations?

Julie Schmit-Albin said...

Anon. 7:50 Are you implying Jon B. neither needs nor wants NRL's endorsement in the General if NUFL's survey is a "truer test of who is pro-life"? At least you can find his and Jean's answers to the NRL survey on our website and I have already written in an earlier post why NRL endorsed Jean this go-around. I'd like to hear from the Blumenthal campaign that they neither want nor need NRL's endorsement since they have NUFL's.

Not 7:50 said...

Julie, I think the fact that Blumenthal sought both endorsements shows that he values both groups. I believe what 7:50 was getting at is that NUFL's requirements are stricter (I think you would acknowledge this is true, no?), and Stothert wouldn't be able to get their endorsement if she tried.

This isn't a NUFL vs. NRtL thing. This is a question of just how "pro-life" Stothert is. You said yourself that the reason she changed positions on ESCR was because she didn't see a need for it currently. But since this position is only based on whether or not it is needed and not whether or not it is ethical, some of us are still questioning her pro-life credentials even though she has managed to get your endorsement.

Anonymous said...

Julie, I'm surprised you guys are sticking up for Jean. She is NOT pro-life - - she will say anything to you guys to get elected this time around - - as a pro-life vote, I would hope you can see that. How do you rectify Stothert's very public stance on supporting public funding for abortion in '06? Stothert will burn you if she gets into office.

Julie Schmit-Albin said...

Anon. 2:34 & 2:38 We ultimately have to take everyone at their word if there is no paper trail on them (i.e. they haven't held office or been an abortion advocate.) Both Jean and Jon met our criteria but one could posit that Jean was even more vetted by virtue of the fact that we have her 2006 personal interview to go off of and a conversation in March with her to clarify her position on ESCR. I have not seen Jon's NUFL answers published anywhere so I'm not sure how you know that by virtue of returning NUFL's survey he had to jump through a higher degree of pro-life vetting here. We did not interview him but took him at his word as to his answers on our survey.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet you Blumenthal just answered the way he was told. Good boy Jon.

I'd really have more questions about Blumenthal.

Just like Julie said, you have to take a candidate at their word.

Maybe someone should do a deep backgroud on Blumenthal. Comes from a good Democrat family...let's really see when the dust settles.

Just the Blumenthal camp trying to throw mud. Trying to revive that hit piece on Stothert a Blumenthal insider said was already designed.

If you were really such a strong pro life voter - you'd sign your post.

Eric said...


I have seen you make this argument before that somehow NUFL's endorsement provides no information because they don't publish answers to their survey questions, and frankly, I just don't buy it. First of all, to get NUFL's endorsement, you have to answer "yes" to the following question:

"Are you Pro-Life personally, professionally and politically knowing that
this statement will be taken to mean that your are personally, professionally and politically
against all abortions, all euthanasia, all artificial formation of human life outside the womb either in single or multiple instances for the purpose of cloning or fertility treatment, all
assisted suicide, all mercy killing and any and all foreseeable offenses against human life?"

That provides a lot of information, and the inclusion of artificial formation of life outside the womb shows that they do have stonger criteria than Nebraska Right to Life. Also, you say that you publish all answers to your questions, but you do not. You only give the yes/no responses. If you're going to tout the transparency of your endorsement methods, then you should publish the written responses as well which give a lot more information about a candidates views. It would be extremely easy to make this info available on your website. Furthermore, these yes/no responses that you publish without any other explanation of your endorsement criteria for specific races only confuses the issue when it appears that a candidate has given pro-life responses. Case in point: Jane Kinsey gave the same responses to your survey as Ken Svoboda (and for all practical purposes Adam Hornung as well). Yet, Svoboda and Hornung got the endorsement where Kinsey did not. There's no explanation, we're just left to wonder why. I wish NUFL would be more transparent too, but with all due respect, I find it a little disingenuous to hold your own organization up as the model of transparency while dogging on another organization with a slightly different model. Why not just provide us all with much much more information?

All that said, I just looked, and you actually can find some of Blumenthal's responses on the NUFL website.

Julie Schmit-Albin said...

Despite the wording of questions and taking candidates at their word on their answers, there are also personal interviews in some cases. My point is Stothert of all City Council candidates next to Maxwell was probably the most vetted because we interviewed her in 06 and called her last month. Am I saying NUFL doesn't interview candidates? No. All I'm saying is we don't know if they have and who they have and all candidates' answers are not readily available in some format. Yes, NRL PAC prides itself on printing a Voter Guide with all answers in the even-numbered election years in both the Primary and General elections. As you can see from this cycle, our Voter Guide with answers is up on the web site for all to access. Pro-life voters know that they will be able to access the answers of the candidates when they either get our Voter Guide on their car at church, in the mail or on the website. You have an objection to NRL only printing the yes and no's without comments but you just admitted you can't find the candidate's responses to NUFL's questions anywhere except you apparently found some of Blumenthal's on a search. Again,I maintain that NRL PAC has a system that seems to be working for a lot of pro-life voters who know endorsements and answers are given on our Voter Guide, as is our Criteria for Endorsement. (See the box on the VG online.) In Lincoln, Jane Kinsey will be further vetted because of a question that arose during endorsement time; despite all of her pro-life answers.

Eric said...

You're kind of missing the point Julie. I'm not saying that NUFL's process is better than yours. Yes, you have a lot of information about the candidates you vet, while you don't have a lot of information about the candidates that other organizations vet. But, for voters not privy to the internals of either process, there is not a huge difference in the amount of information available from each organization.

Yes, you know that Stothert has been vetted more than Blumenthal, but we don't. You know that there were questions about Kinsey, but we don't.

I don't object to NRL (what is your preferred acronym anyway?) printing only Y/N answers, I simply suggest that you need to hold yourself to a much much higher standard before criticizing other groups' processes. What you're doing with your organization is fine, just lay off the passive aggressive "NUFL doesn't tell you anything" line.

Julie Schmit-Albin said...

I wasn't "criticizing" NUFL. I work well with them on legislative matters and we are all pulling to get LB 675 passed. I responded to defend NRL PAC's process and in the course of that; you throw up NUFL to have a higher degree of vetting candidates as compared to NRL's, which I take issue with.

Eric said...

I don't believe that I have ever argued that one organization has a better survey, interview, and information dissemination process than the other. I have encouraged improvements to the processes, but this should not be misconstrued as preference for one or the other.

If, however, by "higher degree of vetting candidates" you mean my assertion that NUFL has stronger requirements on issue positions in order to get an endorsement, then yes, you're right.

You have said that NRL PAC does not take any stand on IVF, and you do not require candidates to oppose IVF in order to get an endorsement. NUFL, on the other hand, opposes IVF and requires candidates to oppose IVF in order to get an endorsement. This is not some secretive thing that we just can't be sure about. It is demonstrably true. What am I missing here?

Julie Schmit-Albin said...

I've never seen/heard a candidate openly oppose IVF. Does Hal Daub whom NUFL endorsed? How about Tom Osborne in 2006? I'm sure we just heard all those City Council candidates making it a centerpiece of their campaigns. All I'm saying is it may be on NUFL's survey but something tells me candidates are not held to it in practice because it: A: Never comes up in their sphere of government and/or B: They sure as heck aren't going to go there publically. Some questions on surveys may be used as a "deal-breaker" in order to get an endorsement while other questions are of interest to a group but may not be taken into consideration when making the endorsement. We have such questions on our survey; I don't like to call them "lesser issues" but they are there to get a sense of the how the candidate feels across the board. The "deal-breakers" for us would be overturning Roe,public funding of abortion, opposing physician-assisted suicide and unethical biomedical research. But we ask a number of questions that aren't "deal-breakers." And I would posit that our standard of giving a sole endorsement to a pro-life incumbent/and/or grassroots pro-life activist involves a pretty high level of scrutiny beyond merely answering questions on a survey.

Eric said...


I'm sure you and I (if that) are the only ones reading this thread anymore, especially since the Stothert and Blumenthal folks have gone to their corners for now. But, yes, I think Daub and Osborne and everyone else who have been endorsed by NUFL had to have answered "Yes" to the question "Are you pro-life" which explicitly includes artificial creation of life outside the womb in their definition. If they answer "yes" to this question but don't oppose IVF, then they're lying and someone should call them out on it.

And yes, it is a deal breaker. In fact, in revoking Jim Esch's 2006 endorsement, they wrote:

"We believe in the right to life of each individual from conception to natural death. The statements made by Mr. Esch are not in keeping with those beliefs, since he is in favor of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

IVF includes procedures such as "IVF culling" or "IVF harvesting," which refers to the selective process of the embryo prior and after implantation. IVF Culling/Harvesting implies that the remaining embryos would be destroyed, frozen or used for experimentation."

Also, I think the nature of the endorsement is a public declaration of their stance on IVF, and I don't really understand why it is any different than a candidate who opposes ESCR. It isn't exactly politically popular to oppose ESCR, but if it is the right thing to do, it's the right thing to do. We're never going to make any progress if people can't stand up for what they believe in because it may not be a popular position. If someone wanted to tell you that they were against ESCR and they wanted your endorsement, but they didn't want to make that position public, you would laugh them out of your office.

And I also don't see what your point "A" has to do with it. Isn't that the argument that the other side uses to say that abortion and ESCR have nothing to do with city council? I think you wrote something which fairly convincingly refuted that.

Street Sweeper said...

(If it helps, I read everything that comes through, more or less...)

Eric said...

It does help. Thanks SS.

Julie Schmit-Albin said...

Not to duck you but this could drag on into May and SS probably wants to put this thread to bed. See you on the next round or maybe we should meet in person and hash out our differences. Or, one of us needs to start our own blog and we can go on with each other till the cows come home.