The following editorial first appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star.
The newly elected are now in formation and marching toward a dramatic changing of the guard in the State Capitol next year.
Republican philosophies and networks will continue to dominate, of course, but a different cast of characters will bring a new style and a change in the ambiance at the statehouse.
Of the six state constitutional officers who will be sworn in, half will be holding a statewide office for the first time. In fact Gov.-elect Pete Ricketts and attorney general-elect Doug Peterson will be holding office for the first time.
Seventeen new state senators will take their seats in the Legislature. With Republicans claiming five seats formerly held by Democrats in the nonpartisan legislative body, the dynamics will be markedly different. Results of races for leadership positions will be an indicator of what lies ahead.
Sea of red
The rightward trend in Nebraska continues unabated. Every election seems to wash away some of the territory held by Democrats. The win by Democrat Brad Ashford over Rep. Lee Terry in the 2nd District is an anomaly explained by Terry’s weak record. Where will the 8,000-plus votes cast for a Libertarian candidate in the district go in two years?
Republicans have had all Nebraska’s statewide seats locked up since 1998. Now those seats are out of reach for another four years, guaranteeing 20 years of all-Republican rule.
If election results in Lancaster County applied to the whole state, Chuck Hassebrook would be governor, Jane Raybould would be lieutenant governor, Amanda McGill would be state auditor and Steve Glenn would be University of Nebraska regent.
Praise be. The worst ad of the season -- the attempt to link Ashford with murderer Nikko Jenkins -- was a flop. Let’s hope political operatives remember this lesson about Nebraska nice. Jenkins may have been the only one swayed by the ad. He shouted his support for Terry in court.
Apparently not all Republican voters are fond of political doctrine. The minimum wage might be anathema to GOP values, but the initiative backed by Democrats to raise the state wage above the federal minimum won by an overwhelming margin.
Don’t mess with Bo
Incumbent NU Regent Rob Schafer reversed primary results with an ad blitz claiming challenger Steve Glenn wanted to fire NU football coach Bo Pelini. The regents helped Schafer’s cause when the list of four finalists for NU president named the day before the election did not include Gov. Dave Heineman. Glenn had zoomed to an easy primary win with a promise to vote against the governor.
Sasse’s star power
During the campaign, U.S. Senator-elect Ben Sasse was the darling of conservative news outlets. Early on, he made the cover of National Review. With the election only days away, conservative talk show host Michael Savage virtually fawned over Sasse. What will happen when Sasse finds himself in the Washington fishbowl with the likes of Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul?
What are you smoking?
The move toward legalization of marijuana continued with votes in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C. With dysfunction already at an all-time high in the nation’s capital, one has to wonder what this development portends.