Election included defeats, victory for every voter

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Nebraska politics turned out to be a lot like Nebraska football this year.

Sure, we talk about throwing more passes and recruiting flashy players, but in the end, it's the yardage on the ground that wins the game.

Nebraskans proved true to form by handily turning down the newcomer with the television aerial attack, choosing instead the candidate who has put in his time in the trenches, as state insurance commissioner, governor and then senator, Ben Nelson.

A lot of Nebraskans were apparently put off with Pete Ricketts' early, massive, negative advertising blitz, and the idea that millions of dollars could sway the election.

And, despite Scott Kleeb's Kennedy-esque looks and Ivy League background -- or perhaps because of them -- voters turned to Adrian Smith, who indeed has lived in Nebraska all of his life and has slogged it out in the Legislature along the way.

And we have to think that national politics had to play a part among Republican voters who didn't want to send another Democrat -- Kleeb -- to Congress, despite being willing to return Democrat Nelson to the Senate.

Few of us expected the combined jail and public safety center to pass on the first round, but the two-to-one negative vote should indicate to officials that much more work needs to be done. Or, perhaps, more time needs to pass as taxpayers adjust to city water and elementary school bills.

As expected, the race for the District 44 seat in the Legislature, vacated by term-limited Tom Baker of Trenton, was tight throughout the evening, with Mark Christensen prevailing over Frank Shoemaker, 58 percent to 42 percent.

And, voters apparently were in no mood to approve constitutional amendments and initiatives, with only Amendment 4, basically a houskeeping provision regarding probation and parole, and Amendment 5, to increase early childhood education funding, prevailing.

Supporters of small Class I schools should be happy that Initiative 422, repealing the dissolution of those schools, passed 56 to 44 percent, but just what effect that will have remains to be seen.

Proposals concerning revenue bonds, investment of endowment funds, compulsive gambling and video keno, blighted property and, thankfully, the state spending lid, all went down in flames.

Outsiders Shane Messersmith and Larry Shields were able to ride a wave of discontent to seats on the McCook Public School board, defeating incumbent James Coady and joining incumbent Greg Larson on the board.

There were victories and defeats, disappointments and encouraging results for everyone. In short, the election was a success.

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