Governor race promises to be a civil one

Monday, May 2, 2005

The Republican race for the governor's nomination in 2006 should be unlike any other in Nebraska history. What will set the race apart is that the three announced candidates -- Congressman Tom Osborne, current Gov. Dave Heineman and Omaha businessman David Nabity -- have the same priority: to improve the state's economy, especially in rural areas.

As a result, the next year -- from now until the May 2006 primary -- should not be about who can dig up the most dirt on the other candidates, but on which candidate has the best ideas for uplifting the Nebraska economy.

When he announced Saturday that he was entering the race for governor, Osborne made a statement which should set the tone for the entire campaign: "You'll never hear a bad word about David Heineman come out of my mouth," Congressman Osborne said.

We hope, and believe, that Heineman and Nabity will follow the same philosophy in regard to opposing candidates. To begin with, it would be unwise to try to tear down the image of such a hugely popular figure as Osborne, who collected vote percentages ranging from 82 to 93 percent in his three races for the U.S. House of Representatives in the Third District.

Upon hearing that Heineman had entered the race for the Republican governor's nomination, political observers were surprised because of the great popularity of Osborne, who had made no secret of his intentions to become the state's chief executive.

But, upon reflection, Heineman may be doing the state a service by offering himself as a candidate. He can help call attention to the economic and social challenges facing the state, while solidifying his stature as a prominent political force in Nebraska. If Heineman conducts his campaign with the dignity and integrity that we expect, it should bode well for his future in government service.

The real winners in the upcoming Republican campaign for the governor's nomination should be the voters of Nebraska. They should be treated to a campaign which brings out the best in American politics. As it now stands, the candidates have an opportunity to conduct a campaign which deals with issues, not personal attacks on each other. Talk about a refreshing change. It would be an example worthy of following all across America.

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