Date: Tuesday, April 27 @ 02:23:57 CDT
Topic: Politics

I'm Bob Van Valkenburg, Republican Candidate for the First Congressional District seat being vacated by retiring Doug Bereuter. On the campaign trail, I have told audience after audience that my purpose in being in the race is rather simple, when you believe there are changes in government which should be made, "If you don't stand up and be counted, you just as well lie down and be counted-out."

On the evening of 23 February 2004, I gave a talk that will long be remembered by those who have maintained a death-grip-hold on Republican Party politics in Lancaster County for years. The event, a county party fund raiser featured "...our First District Congressional Candidates." The gathering of party faithful orchestrated by Darlene Starman, Co-Chair of the county party was a huge success. Each person paid from $55 to $100 for the privilege of attending the "Presidents' Day Event" and several hundred people attended.

I was the sixth and last candidate to speak to an audience who was well fed and, by the time my turn rolled around, was somewhat ready for it all to end. It was great to have been the only candidate-speaker to received several thunderous bursts of applause during my presentation. My talk was serious in part and humorous in part and they said, I brought the room back to life. Even my opponents had kind words to say about the presentation.

Ms. Starman was caught between a rock and a hard place. Since she thrives on being the "Grande dame" of G.O.P. events and campaigns, it was hard for her to take the public compliment I gave her for arranging such an enjoyable evening from me knowing full-well she had been an ongoing pain in my posterior for several years. What really upset her was the fact her "chosen one" in the congressional race was overshadowed in the oratorical ordeal. I must add here, that friendships have developed between the candidates since we have had the opportunity to get to know one another on the "campaign trail." This important to note, because I personally feel that none of my opponents are the kind of guys who would stoop to dirty politics. That, however does not include some of the political zealots who have wormed their way into one of the candidate's campaign structure.

In the following weeks, it became clear the party "insiders" had ordained Bereuter's pick to be the "favored" Republican candidate in the congressional race. The usual Country-Club-Clique and their Conspiring Cronies "circled their wagons." No way would they ever let Darlene make the same mistake twice. No way would they sit still and let yours truly have access to the ears of the "regular Republicans" who gathered at the Scottish Rite Temple last Thursday evening for the modestly priced fund raiser. Frankly, it was funny watching those who are supposed to be "neutral in the primary" scurrying about to carry out their devious design.

The most recent event was advertised as a "Lancaster GOP Sloppy Joe Dinner and State and Local Candidate Forum." In attendance, among others, were the governor and first lady. It had been made clear to me by Haga prior to the meeting, that the congressional candidates present would be introduced, but not allowed to speak. Only the "State and Local Candidates" were scheduled to give presentations, notwithstanding the fact none of those candidates had Republican opponents and all would have a free-ride to the General Election next November.

Senator Carol Hudkins was second to speak. After a short presentation she asked the audience how many had been able to attend the previous $55 a person event. Only a sprinkling of hands were raised. She pointed out the fact those scheduled to speak really could be heard at a later date and asked how many would like to hear from the congressional candidate present. Practically every one attending raised their hands. She then told Haga, who was serving as master of ceremonies she would relinquish the balance of her time to the congressional candidates. At that point, Haga was caught between that rock and hard place. Did he dare gamble with further publicly offending a respected lady - a beloved state senator? She had perhaps unknowingly challenged the dastardly plan hatched by Haga and his co-conspirator Darlene Starman, to muzzle Van and one or more others.

For the benefit of those who were not there, I must point out that I was setting with Larry and Carol Hudkins, Senator Marian Price and Bernie Heier. Haga probably concluded, erroneously, that I had persuaded Senator Hudkins to get me a chance to address the audience. Such was absolutely not the case! It had been "made perfectly clear" to me by Haga that congressional candidates would not be allowed to speak. I was settled upon just enjoying the good food and fellowship of the evening and take a "candidates' night off", so to speak.

It's one thing for Haga and Starman to dish out unfair and biased treatments to me that seems to be vogue in Lancaster County Republican politics, but for Haga to publicly be condescending if not insulting to my friend of many years, one of the nicest persons and most loyal Republicans holding elected office - Senator Carol Hudkins - I find it is time for me to "Stand up and be counted."

There were four of the seven Republican congressional candidates who had all paid their ways and were attending solely for the same reason I was attending - for good food and fellowship. It is interesting to point out that Haga, adjourned the meeting 30 minutes before the scheduled end time. Thus, he could have allowed the four congressional candidates each five minutes to speak and still ended the meeting early.

For Jim Haga to put down the suggestion of Senator Hudkins in such an ungentlemanly way and to ignore the overwhelming desire of the crowd to allow the congressional candidates to speak showed all present his true character. I now believe we, as "regular Republicans" must rise up and restore our party to some semblance of civility and demand a public apology from Haga to Senator Hudkins. A real gentleman would never treat a lady the way he treated her!

Is it any wonder why elected officials seldom appear at Lancaster County GOP events? The county party has no money, but is always tapping the donor list for more and more. The county party has no office, no volunteers, no paid staff and gives little to no help to candidates, financially or otherwise. Even worse, county party "insiders" control and manipulate "candidate encouragement" to the extent they will overtly interfere with the campaigns of "outsiders" who dare to take on those who are the ones "ordained" by the Country-Club-Clique and their Conniving Cronies.

I have given ample opportunity for Haga to amend his ways and privately apologize to Senator Carol Hudkins for his malevolent conduct. He has stubbornly and arrogantly ignored my recommendation, leaving me no choice but to take the matter to the jury of public opinion. The time for a public confrontation has arrived!

By and through this article being released to every print and electronic media in the Lancaster County Nebraska and the 1st Congressional District as well, I demand from Haga a public apology to Senator Hudkins or that he be called upon by the "regular Republicans" to RESIGN AS LANCASTER GOP PARTY CHAIR!

The steps I am taking are my own and not done at the request of or with the concurrence of Senator Hudkins or anyone else. Defending a ladies honor may be old fashioned, but I still believe it is the gentlemanly thing to do.

This article comes from VansOpinion

The URL for this story is: