In 2006 Scott Kleeb ran against far right Republican closet queen Adrian Smith in the largest — like 75% of the state — and most Republican (R+24!!!) district in Nebraska. In a district that gave Bush 75% of its vote in 2004 (while rewarding the GOP congressional incumbent with 87%), Scott managed to astound political observers with 45% of the vote.
People in the ultra conservative 3rd district liked him and saw him as one of them– but a representative of the very best in them.
His appeal, while down to earth and primarily on bread and butter issues, appealed to the angels in people’s nature not to the hatred and bigotry normally used by Republicans to appeal to another side of people’s natures.
This year Scott was drafted to run for the open Senate seat when Chuck Hagel decided to retire.
Nebraska’s arch-conservative Democratic senator, Ben Nelson, persuaded a Republican multimillionaire friend of his to switch parties and try for the Democratic nomination, giving Scott a rough time. Nebraska Democrats, however, were not impressed by the free-spending reactionary and gave Scott around 70% of their votes.
Now he’s facing a cookie cutter Republican ex-governor, Mike Johanns.
I’ve spoken with Scott on the phone a few times and followed both his races and I’ve come to the conclusion that not only will be a far better senator than any Nebraska Republican, he’d also be a huge improvement over the state’s two most recent right-of-center Democrats, Bob Kerrey and Ben Nelson. But first he has to be elected, no mean feat in one of the most dependably Republican states in America. But Scott’s managed to raise over a million dollars (to Johanns’ $2.7 million) and he’s running a compteitive, if uphill, race against Johanns.
"The netroots community has been vital to this campaign," he told us. "Firedoglake readers understand the 50-State Strategy and the importance of giving voters a real choice in November. I’m happy to have a chance to visit with you today and have a discussion about the issues facing Nebraska and our nation."
This morning Scott is at a fundraising brunch in Omaha and he’ll be joining us at FDL at 11:30 am (PT). In his stead for the first half hour is Scott’s Internet Director, Paul Delehanty, whom some of you know from his from his writings on dailykos.com and his work with me on the Chicago Voices netroots scholarship program in 2007. Paul will be talking campaign tactics, etc. with us until Scott arrives.
A few weeks ago Scott debated Johanns at the Nebraska County Fair in Lincoln. Let’s listen to Scott answering a question about the retroactive immunity granted to telecom executives under Bush’s FISA bill and then see the stark difference between Scott and pure Bush apologist Johanns: