|Scottsbluff attorney announces gubernatorial run|
|July 22, 2010 Jerry Purvis|
Scottsbluff attorney Mike Meister, who staged an unsuccessful bid for Attorney General in 2002, has announced he will seek to be Nebraska’s next governor.
The Nebraska Democratic Party had been seeking a candidate to challenge Gov. David Heineman since the apparent frontrunner, Mark Lakers, pulled out of the race amid financial disclosure problems. The party is holding its state convention this weekend and Meister appears to be unchallenged for the nomination.
Meister said he had been approached about the position in June, after Lakers started having problems. Discussions became much more direct after Lakers pulled out of the race.
Meister said he still has statewide recognition from his campaign for attorney general. Also, he ran for Scotts Bluff County Attorney in 2006.
“I don’t get involved in politics too much unless my dander gets up,” Meister said. “My dander started to creep up in the past few months. We have a record budget deficit in Nebraska, the worst it’s ever been. Nobody wants to talk about it.”
He said he wasn’t ready to fully commit until last week when Gov. Heineman announced two furlough days for all the state’s union employees.
“That’s just wrongheaded and counterproductive,” he said. “The governor has a $650 million budget deficit and is trying to make hay with a $3.5 million fix. That’s less than one percent of the budget. He’s slowing economic recovery by taking that amount of salary out of the economy.”
Meister said the party is considering ideas such as going to a four-day, 10 hour a day workweek. Another would have the state take ownership of the state’s school buildings, which would be leased back to the school districts for a nominal fee.
“If the state owned the schools, it would take the headache off the school districts for the major repair that would need to be done. I believe that would meet our requirement under the constitution, so we no longer have to collect tax dollars to send back to the schools in the form of state aid,” he said.
For the upcoming budget year, the state is sending $950 million back to the schools in state aid.
Meister also cited Gov. Heineman for his lack of leadership in the production of wind energy, which lags far behind production in either Iowa or Colorado.
“At this point, we need to look at electing a governor who understands what the people are going through,” he said. “That’s why I’ve allowed the Democratic Party of Nebraska to put my name in nomination.”
Meister said the campaign will be short prior to the Nov. 2 election. But he’s excited about getting out into the state and making his case.
He also warned that if the governor calls a special session, he would almost certainly raise everyone’s taxes.
“That same thing has happened three different times in the past,” he said. “Heineman is in that same boat and he’s not going to call a special session of the Legislature because he’s terrified that’s exactly what will happen. His only vision of how to fix the budget problem is to raise taxes.”
Meister said he would run a very issue focused campaign that will make the best use of whatever funds party supporters are able to raise.
“This will be an actual policy debate,” he said. “We’ll discuss the issue, what the governor is doing about it, and what we propose should be done differently.”