A View from Omaha
Citizen Reporter Don Shennum in Nebraska sent us this personal view of the race:
Nebraska is a very conservative state, with small-town values still driving many political and social views in the state. In 2004, Bush won this state with 66% of the vote. Ben Nelson, an independent-leaning Democrat, votes closer with Bush's platform than with the Democratic platform. The fact that he is aligned with Bush on several important issues is how he has been able to get elected in this conservative state. Pete Ricketts,an ultra-conservative millionaire, has funded his campaign all by himself(12 million dollars invested). The Republican Party was not going to pump any money into the Nebraska race, as a Nelson victory would not necessarily hurt the Republican agenda in Congress. When Ricketts won the primary election, the Republican Party realized that they would not have to spend much money in Nebraska, as Ricketts will finance it himself. The goal of Ricketts is of course, to win, but the goal of the Republican Party is to make Nelson and the Democratic Party spend as much money as possible in order to be re-elected. The more money spent in Nebraska by the Democrats, the less they have to spend elsewhere.
Most polls currently have Nelson with around 55% of the vote, and Ricketts with 33%. The campaigning has been ugly, with both sides taking personal shots at each other. So, there may not be much drama with the results, but the response from both sides will be interesting to track, as will the potential for a Ricketts win to help bolster the Republican cause on election night.
The other notable race in Nebraska is Initiative 423. Initiative 423 would implement a hard spending cap on the state budget that would be tied to population growth and the consumer price index. Proponents claim that this would help control runaway state spending growth that has increased 200% in the last 20 years. Opponents claim that this would hurt programs such as education and law enforcement, whose growth cannot be tied into rigid spending forecasts. Most polls currently show Initiative 423 losing by a 2-to-1 margin.