Who will win the election? It's anybody's guess

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Let's see how good a predictor you are. With less than a year to go before the 2006 general election, you can show your political savvy by guessing who the winners will be in the big four races facing the voters of Southwest Nebraska.

We're talking about who you think the winners will be in the Nebraska races for the U.S. Senate, the 3rd District seat in the House of Representatives, the Governor's office and the Legislator's position in the 44th District.

You don't have to share your guesses with anyone. Just jot them down and put them away in a place you can check after the election. It will be a real feat if you correctly predict all the winners, because the 2006 primary and general election campaigns are shaping up as among the most hotly contested races in many years.

The campaign began in earnest Wednesday, with political newcomer Pete Ricketts firing the first salvo with a statewide series of newspaper and television ads. With reported personal wealth of $25 million, it is expected that Ricketts will continue to promote heavily in his quest for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. His primary foes, Don Stenberg and David Kramer, have better known names in political circles, but far less financial resources.

For the GOP candidates, the primary race is only Phase One. Whoever is successful faces a formidable challenge in the general election, as they will face U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, a McCook native with $2.7 million cash on hand for the upcoming campaign.

In the governor' contest, the main action will take place between now and the May 9 primary, with the sitting governor, Dave Heineman, trying to hold off a challenge from one of the best known names in state history, current congressman and former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne. Also in the race for governor is an Omaha businessman, David Nabity.

Adding to the drama is the 3rd District race for Congress, with Adrian Smith, Jay Vavricek, John Hanson and Douglas Polk bidding for the GOP nomination, and Jim Esch and Scott Kleeb seeking the Democratic nod.

Then, in this area, there's the increasingly crowded race for the 44th District legislative seat. Jeff Tidyman and Larry Harvey of McCook are in the race, as are Kathy Wilmot and Bill Weaver of Beaver City and Mark Christensen of Imperial. Another McCook area resident has called a news conference for Monday morning, at which time it is expected he will announce his legislative candidacy.

The drama is building. The campaign is shifting into high gear. Any guesses? Your choices are important, because the campaign will determine the future leadership of this state and this area.

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