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Just a few more questions for the GOP party chair

I was eager to read Don Walton’s Sunday story on GOP state party chair Mark Fahleson — thinking he might have something interesting to say about the Republicans’ recent poor showing in the Lincoln spring election.

GOP chairman Mark Fahleson

I was disappointed. Not a word. It was more of a profile of Fahleson. Now I love The Don — he is an institution and a sweet guy — but I think he should have asked at least one question about the election results. So I shot Fahleson an email with some “questions I would have asked,” and he was kind enough to answer them. Here they are:

What do you think of the municipal election results in Lincoln? It seems as though the Democrats have figured out how to win almost any election in Lincoln.

Since I became chair of the Nebraska Republican Party in 2009, we have held a series of strategic planning sessions to establish specific, measurable and achievable goals for the state party. We are a state party, not a municipal party or county party. At no time have the Lincoln municipal elections appeared anywhere in our top priorities since I have been chair.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that replacing Sen. Ben Nelson is goal number one for the NEGOP between now and November 2012. That’s our focus, and that’s where we are spending our time, energy and resources.

Why did the GOP contribute so little to (Republican mayoral candidate Tammy) Buffington’s campaign? I believe I saw just a $250 donation or so?

See my answer above. Again, Lincoln municipal races were not a priority for the state Republican Party. Rest assured we’ll be spending a tad bit more than that working to replace Sen. Nelson.

If it was because she was not considered a good investment, why didn’t the party find a better candidate?

I, in coordination with Lancaster County GOP officials, met with several potential candidates for mayor, city council and school board (which is not uncommon — we do the same in other communities and counties as well). Candidates choose to run for personal reasons, and that’s the way it should be. If they don’t have a personal passion to run and the proverbial “fire in the belly,” then frankly I don’t want them running.
When I was Lancaster County Republican Chair I helped recruit guys like Sen. Colby Coash and Bob Swanson to run for state Legislature here in Lincoln. Both were passionate about their races and the issues that were important to them and their constituents. Colby won, Bob lost, but both are in the top tier of candidates I have had the pleasure to help recruit. I am always looking for my candidates like them, who are willing to make the personal commitment and sacrifice to win, even if at the end of the day they are like Bob Swanson and come up a few votes short.

Overall, it appears the Dems had much more money to spend on the local races — is that the case or does the state Republican Party just choose to spend its money on other races? If so, why?

It’s cyclical, and it wasn’t a priority for us in 2011.

Do you see any threat that many of the Dems being elected on the local level in Lincoln and Omaha will some day be strong candidates for statewide and congressional offices?

No. The Democrats who are getting elected in Omaha and Lincoln simply are unelectable statewide. The one Democrat who has successfully run statewide in recent years is Ben Nelson, and that will come to an end with the November 2012 elections. He was able to pull the wool over many Nebraskans’ eyes by pretending he was a moderate or conservative when he is back here in Nebraska while siding with Harry Reid and the liberal Democrats in Washington. The gig is up thanks to his Cornhusker Kickback and decisive vote on ObamaCare. Simply put, dust has gathered on the Democrat bench, and I do not forsee any threat.

Why wouldn’t Lincoln and Omaha city elections be a focus for the party — given the fact that people like Jim Suttle, Jeff Fortenberry and Mike Johanns all started out on the city level?

Name the last Democrat who won statewide after ascending from local office? Voting records help Republicans in Nebraska, not Democrats.

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