Hassebrook eyes Medicaid expansion, early child education in state convention speech

Hassebrook eyes Medicaid expansion, early child education in state convention speech

August 2, 2014 - Lincoln Journal Star 

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chuck Hassebrook pledged Saturday to fight for the expansion of Medicaid in Nebraska and help build an education system that "gives every child an opportunity to start kindergarten prepared to succeed."

Hassebrook told the Democratic state convention his campaign will "run a ground game the likes of which this state has never seen" and raise enough money to conduct a $3 million campaign.

"We need to get better known," he said, "and we will."

"Pete Ricketts will spend a lot more," Hassebrook said, but the Republican nominee's supporters in "undisclosed outside attack groups" that blanket the state with negative TV ads will discover that Nebraska votes aren't for sale.

Democratic Senate nominee Dave Domina joined Hassebrook in delivering a fiery message in which he promised to put the nation's interests ahead of party or ideology.

The current partisan and ideological deadlock in Congress "threatens the fabric and foundation of our country," he said.

"It's time for us to be patriots," Domina said, and sometimes that will require "taking a little bit less than each of us may want" to reach agreement on the urgent challenges that remain unresolved in a gridlocked Congress.

"We need to make an effort to get along for the sake of the country," he said.

Recognizing that Republican nominee Ben Sasse has raised substantially more campaign resources than he will be able to muster, Domina said he'll have "enough money" to deliver his message.

And part of that message, he said, is that "the office of U.S. Senate is not for sale."

Hassebrook told party activists that he has raised more than $1.5 million so far, "and we're going to double that."

"The stakes (in this race) are so high for our state and for our middle class," he said.

Hassebrook said he strongly supports the initiative proposal to increase the state's minimum wage rate whereas Ricketts is likely to push for tax reform that results in tax reductions "for the rich folks on top."

As governor, Hassebrook said, he would work to build "an education system second to none in America" and promote development of wind energy in Nebraska, which would boost the state's economy, create jobs and help address the challenge of climate change.

Medicaid expansion, which has been opposed by Gov. Dave Heineman and rejected thus far by the Legislature, is critical not only for the working poor, Hassebrook said, but for hospitals that currently serve Nebraskans across the state.

"This fight is not over," he said.

All three Democratic House nominees addressed the convention.

Dennis Crawford of Lincoln, the 1st District nominee, said the choice in this election is between "continued progress and recession," since re-election of Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and a GOP House majority would lead to continued obstruction and another government shutdown that triggers an economic downturn.

During the six years since President Barack Obama was elected, Crawford said, the country has enjoyed measurable progress in job creation, economic growth, stock market gains, increased health care coverage and budget deficit reduction.

"D's are the true fiscal conservatives," he said.

If he's elected, 2nd District nominee Brad Ashford of Omaha said, he'd work to protect collective bargaining rights that now are under attack.

Pointing to some Republican efforts to swiftly deport the children from Central America who have crossed the southern U.S. border seeking refugee status without allowing them due process proceedings, Ashford said, "that will never happen if I'm elected to Congress."

Mark Sullivan of Doniphan, the 3rd District nominee, said he'd work to resolve the nation's problems instead of engaging in partisan gridlock.

If the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, is flawed, he said, "it's Congress' job to fix it."

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