Greg Blankenship, a contributor to Illinois Review, challenged me the other day for my comments on the March primary. In them I said that it is a shame that Jim Oberweis, who had first raised the immigration issue in this state before anyone else, was defeated. The column received a great deal of response: some pro, some con, for which I am grateful. But Blackenship, whom I dont think I ever met (but maybe I have: such is the way with the aged) issued a challenge to me which no one else has done a challenge not on my Blog where my column appeared but on that of the Illinois Review. Fair enough. Accordingly, I will respond here.
Where I take issue with Mr. Roeser is on the notion that Jim Oberweis wouldve been able to capitalize on the immigration imbroglio to energize this base in this election. I would challenge Mr. Roeser to find a primary challenger for an open seat in Congress or a contested GOP primary or general election where the immigration [sic] is winning anything. If he can find someone in this cycle who has done that, I will buy him and a companion dinner at the restaurant of his choice Perhaps if he cant find someone (which is really tough to do) he could return the favor.[Italics mine.]
The challenge is herewith accepted, Mr.Blackenship.
First, let me cite the recent Nebraska primary where a Republican congressman was rebuffed in his attempt to run for governor. He was not just any Congressman but one who was institutionally famous in Nebraska. Elected to the House in 2000, Tom Osborne is, to quote the indispensable political bible The Almanac of American Politics, written by Michael Barone with Richard E. Cohen and the assistance of founding editor, Grant Ujifusa, was better known than most congressmen after serving 20 years. He grew up in Hastings and excelled at basketball, football and track in high school and at Hastings College. He graduated in 1959 and played professional football for three years in Washington and San Francisco. At the University of Nebraska he was head football coach for 25 years, won three national championships before retiring in 1998 with perfect seasons in 1994, 1995 and 1997. His team was 87-11 in the 1990s and 60-3 over his last five years. After retiring he was inducted into the College Hall of Fame in 1999, the three-year waiting period waived for only the second time in history. Osborne ran for Congress and won the primary with 71 percent of the vote and the general election with 82 percent.
But this year, as popular as he was, Osborne challenged the incumbent Republican governor, Dave Heineman but lost, stunning many. A news report from John Gizzi, political editor of Human Events, put it this way: Heinemans success against the former football coach was in large part due to his veto of a bill passed by the states unicameral legislature earlier this year to allow illegal aliens who graduate from high school in Nebraska and promise to continue trying to achieve U.S. citizenship to pay in-state tuition at state colleges. Osborne supported the in-state tuition bill, which became the law when the legislature overrode Heinemans veto.
It was certainly one of the major reasons Dave Heineman won and Tom Osborne lost, said Omaha City Councilman Chuck Sigerson, a former Republican state chairman. Sigerson noted that the issue was widely discussed at the candidates debates and in commercials run at the end of the campaign. Illegal immigrants are coming to Nebraska in significant numbersin Omaha and Lincoln in particular, Sigerson said. The issue of illegal immigration is a growing problem.
The article goes on: In a debate at Norfolk, Neb., in April, Osborne attacked Heineman over the veto. You dont punish somebody for something they had no control over, he lectured the governor. Why would you take away that opportunity to better themselves? Heineman fired back that giving tuition breaks at tax-funded colleges to people in the country illegally is not right. Its not fair. Its not appropriate. There is a legal way to go through the immigration process.
Continuing, the article says: Evidence that Osborne feared he had injured himself on the issue emerged when his campaign started doing push polls trying to paint Heineman as weak on illegal immigration. NebraskaStatePaper.com dubbed the push polling the telephonic equivalent of an attack ad.´ In one call, the voter was told, Tom Osborne has voted for tighter border security and proposed measures to allow hard-working immigrants to obtain temporary worker visas. Dave Heineman does not even have a position on illegal immigration listed on his Web site. Does his silence on illegsal immigration make you less likely to vote for Dave Heineman?
The article concludes by saying: Osbornes defeat, Sigerson said, came on the heels of all those rallies for illegal immigrant rightsand voters said they were fed up with them.
NOTE: I will begin with the special Gibson Deluxe tomato and onion salad with vinegar and oil dressing, after which I prefer a small fillet (medium).
Second, Southern Connecticut Newspapers are reporting that U. S. Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Bridgeport), no wild-ranting ultra-conservative red-neck on immigration has announced to his constituents that his opinions on immigration have evolved into a harder stance after hearing from constituents at community meetings this past month. He added: Its unsettling to hear people say, `Its our land, you took it away from us, he said. `This isnt about Jerusalem. I believe they need to go home to become citizens. Shays voted yes on the House bill Shays opponent, Diane Farrell, the Democratic challenger has said Shays is playing politics with immigration Shays supported the requirement to learn English and the distribution of Social Security cards made like drivers licenses that cant be counterfeited as easily.
NOTE: With the small fillet (medium) I think I will order asparagus and a double-baked potato. Iced tea to drink.
Third, As the Salt Lake City Tribune reported May 17, illegal immigration was the core issue at the Utah Republican convention on Saturday that hurled 10-year-veteran Congressman Chris Cannon into a June primary election with political novice John Jacob. Immigration is huge with the delegates, Jacob said after a runoff ballot gave him 52 percent of the vote to Cannons 48 percent.
NOTE: For dessert, I will proceed simply. A dish of mixed berries and skim milk followed by regular coffee with cream. Mr. Leahy can order for himself. Thank you for this opportunity to dine with Mr. Leahy andI presumeyou.