My Side of the Fencepost

OK, so it IS partisan . . . .

By Jim Dickerson

If you’ve been picking up your mail lately most anywhere in the 41st Legislative District, you are well aware that the two major political parties are already heavily involved in the legislative race between Kate Sullivan and Paul Eurek.

Our little old 41st District must be very important on the state and national scene, because there is some REAL money being spent on this race — and it’s coming from more than just the candidates and their campaign committees. The state Republican party is now hauling out the ammunition. The Democratic party has also produced one direct mail piece on the District 41 race and may be planning more.

You might have heard a big “Whoosh!” a few weeks ago when the first volleys were fired. That was the sound of our nonpartisan Legislative system being swept away. From now on — apparentlly without regard to language in the state constitution or other resource material — the Nebraska Legislature will be Partisan (with a capital P).

Now, I really shouldn’t complain about this. Our newspapers and the others across the 41st District might gain financially from increased newspaper advertising . . . or the political parties might choose to spend the bulk of their campaign money on direct mail or other media. Whatever the case, it appears we’ll be hearing more from (and about) the candidates through the two political parties — with their own “spin” added.


The ball started rolling during the primary election campaign last spring. Gov. Dave Heineman and Attorney General Jon Bruning, the two highest ranking Republicans in state government, made a swing through the 41st District to endorse Paul Eurek.

At that time, I used this space to mention that nonpartisan races should remain nonpartisan. I said (more or less) that the governor should have stayed home — let the candidates do their own campaigning and let the people decide.

My editorial opinion apparently didn’t change any minds.

As I mentioned, the shots have pretty much been taken by direct mail so far. I’ve been saving up the cards for later reference. They started with a direct mail piece from the Nebraska Republican Party, which stated that “Kate Sullivan has benefitted from thousands of dollars from Nebraska’s biggest unions.” Actually, as far as I know, the only union endorsing Kate was the Nebraska State Education Association, which is an endorsement many candidates would like to have.

So far, I have counted five direct mail pieces in the race. The only two negative pieces came from the Nebraska Republican Party, and both sought to cast Kate Sullivan as a union supported big spender. The other three pieces have been positive — one each from the respective candidates’ campaign organizations and one positive piece from the Nebraska Democratic State Central Committee.

I don’t believe negative campaign ads appeal to most voters in the 41st District. In that regard, I think the Democrats have the upper hand so far. I hope both parties refrain from any further negative campaigning in this race.