My Side of the Fencepost

New and different politics

By Jim Dickerson 


As I’ve mentioned before, we are fortunate to have some very good candidates running for the District 41 seat in the Nebraska Legsilature. They all seem to be getting out to see the voters, and they’re working hard to get elected.

Sometimes I wonder how we can attract good people to work so hard for a job that still pays only a pittance, but that’s a topic for another time.

As set forth in the 1937 constitutional amendment that created the Unicameral, its members are elected on a nonpartisan basis. That means no political party is listed with their names on the election ballot.

I’ve always liked that system, because it tends to minimize party politics in legislative races. The people have a chance to do their own homework, ask their own questions and make decisions for themselves based on each candidate’s merit. It always seemed to fit Nebraska’s bent for independent thought.

In the past, it has been very rare for a sitting Nebraska governor to endorse any specific legislative candidate prior to an election, but it has been done in recent years. Just last Friday, the state’s highest ranking Republicans, Gov. Dave Heineman and Attorney General Jon Bruning, made a trip to the 41st District towns of Albion and Ord to endorse Paul Eurek of Loup City for the seat.

Mr. Eurek is a capable candidate with plenty of political savvy. There is little question about that.

But this year, Boone County has its own very capable candidate in Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids. She is articulate, well acquainted with the issues faced by rural Nebraska and the 41st Legislative District, and she would be an effective representative for this district.

Gov. Heineman said last Friday he endorsed Eurek for the 41st District seat because of special qualities that he felt the candidate has. The governor certainly has a right to voice his support, just as any citizen has; but it does bring a new dimension into the legislative race. I can’t say I’m comfortable with it.

With the governor and attorney general now directly supporting a legislative candidate, it is obvious that the customs have changed. I’m not sure they have changed for the better.