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Could someone more liberal than Ben Nelson win in Nebraska?

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liberalpragmatist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:26 PM
Original message
Could someone more liberal than Ben Nelson win in Nebraska?
I know people often excuse Ben Nelson because they argue he votes in line with his state. Nebraska is a very Republican state and, accordingly, Nelson, the argument goes, is about the most liberal Democrat you could elect in the state.

I'm not sure that's actually true; is it?

I realize Ben Nelson is probably too popular among the general electorate of the state to successfully primary him. But while I doubt that Nebraska could elect a Barbara Boxer or Paul Wellstone to the Senate, it seems to me that Nelson is well more conservative than required for a Democrat. In other words, he's a conservative Democrat because he's genuinely conservative, not just conservative-voting because he needs to vote in line with his state/district.(*)

In the past, Nebraska voted for Bob Kerrey, for example. Now, Bob Kerry could be a giant ass. He was a bit of a Lieberman. But he was a fairly idiosyncratic legislator and waaaay more liberal than Ben Nelson. Though Bob Kerrey (infuriatingly) was a heavy backer of the Iraq War and a proponent of Social Security "privatization" (things that Ben Nelson has endorsed too, albeit more quietly), he also voted against welfare reform, backed single-payer health care, was an ardent supporter of abortion rights and voted against DOMA.

So does Ben Nelson really have an excuse? Is he actually more right-wing that his electorate requires? People who know more about Nebraska politics can probably answer this question for me.

* A possible example of the latter would be Al Gore as a Tennessee senator, who was a good deal more conservative that his current reputation would suggest. Or, according to a friend of mine who worked for him, Congressman Vic Snyder of Arkansas.
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sufrommich Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:28 PM
Response to Original message
1. I don't know about Nebraska, but I sent him a "shame on you"
email today and hope many others do the same.
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TwilightZone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:30 PM
Response to Original message
2. It's close to 70% Republican.
Edited on Sat May-02-09 07:37 PM by TwilightZone
So, unfortunately, Ben Nelson may be about as liberal as we can expect out of the current political climate in NE.

He's certainly not right of his constituency. Outside of Utah, NE is about as conservative as it gets.

His approval ratings have historically been very, very high. Unless things have recently changed, he's one of the highest-rated members of the Senate.
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AlinPA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:33 PM
Response to Original message
3. I would say we are lucky to have him (for our majority number) because NE is very Republican.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:43 PM
Response to Original message
4. Probably not ..
Those pesky "farm states" are tough nuts to crack :)

many there have bought into all the John Wayne crappola, and think that they are being rugged individualists when they blindly follow the self-defeating nonsense of the faux-family-values republican cult leaders.
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TwilightZone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:54 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. The funny thing about farm states....
In general, farmers in conservative states in the Upper Midwest (NE, SD, ND, for example) are very vocal about how government should stay out of people's lives, welfare sucks, etc. Government should just leave everyone alone and shouldn't need to support *anyone*.

Yet, they have no problem accepting farm subsidies. And supporting abortion bans. And banning same-sex marriage, etc.

Hmm.
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lsewpershad Donating Member (964 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 08:29 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Regardless.
We should try to get rid of him because he is bad for America and I'm sure what is bad for all of us is also bad for for his state.
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TwilightZone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 09:19 PM
Response to Reply #6
14. To get someone worse?
The alternative to Ben Nelson in NE is a far-right Republican. As bad as Nelson is, the alternatives are worse.
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WI_DEM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 08:33 PM
Response to Original message
7. NE back in the day was a very populist state home of William Jennings Bryan and George Norris
Bob Kerrey was somewhat more to the left than Nelson, but in todays day and age I doubt an outright liberal could win.
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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 08:35 PM
Response to Original message
8. It all depends on how you frame the issues
I doubt that the voters of Nebraska are as enamored with Wall Street far cats and insurance barons as Mr. Nelson's proven to be.
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AllentownJake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 08:42 PM
Response to Original message
9. Targetting Ben Nelson is a waste of time
We beat him in a primary we have a fundamentalist in power in a General Election.

Lets not get dumb like the Republicans.
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liberalpragmatist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 08:55 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. I'm not saying we should primary him
I think that'd be futile, given how popular he is.

I simply wonder whether, theoretically, someone more liberal than Nelson could hold the seat.

Again, I'm not saying that a Paul Wellstone or Ted Kennedy could win in Nebraska. But it's not at all clear to me that someone like Kent Conrad or Tim Johnson couldn't win in Nebraska.
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AllentownJake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 09:09 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. You'd have to look at the statewide and bigger city elected officials
Find one that is very popular and than give them a shit load of money to run, mostly to fend off Right Wing attacks and lies.

Either that or you'd need a Republican to get involved in a major scandal like Stevenson did but bitterly hold onto his seat and hope the guy is charismatic enough to win re-election in 6 years.
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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 08:58 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Absolutely! a few hundred of the few Democrats in...
NE might swing a primary challenge, but the general is decided by the rest of the state, and it would not be pretty.

There's no "if we build it they will come" in politics-- first an acceptance of liberalism has to be started somehow, THEN we find a candidate to exploit it. It doesn't work the other way around.


Treasonous the Pundit

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DainBramaged Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 09:16 PM
Response to Original message
13. I see Ben Nelson on the Tee Vee and I Immediately think 'mouth-breather'
Did this guy like blow horses in a circus sideshow bet to get elected?
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jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 09:53 PM
Response to Original message
15. Having lived in Nebraska and helped in the McGovern campaign
there I would say no. Omaha has a large Democratic population and Lincoln to but from there on many areas are pug. From what I remember we are lucky that anyone they send to congress has a D behind their name.
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