Photo by George Lauby
Omaha business attorney Bart McLeay visited North Platte Tuesday, laying groundwork for his run to replace Mike Johanns in the U.S. Senate. McLeay is a leading business attorney with the Kutak-Rock firm, coordinating 140 attorneys in 12 states, a position he has held for seven years. He also holds an undergraduate degree in accounting.
McLeay said he decided to seek the position after Johanns announced he would not seek reelection and Gov. Dave Heineman declined to run to replace him.
He said he is uniquely qualified.
“I’ve spent my professional life resolving disputes,” he said. “I thrive in those circumstances.”
McCleay has nearly three decades of work fighting in courtrooms. Among his victories, he said he successfully kept the Niobrara scenic river designation from encroaching too far into private property. And, as an assistant Nebraska attorney general in the 1990s, he worked on disputes with Kansas over the amount of water in the Republican River.
“Congress has a 9 percent rating and is in gridlock. Most people would run from that environment, but I want to run to it. It’s my skill set,” he said.
The nation is heading in the wrong direction financially, he said. Government is too big and imposes on too many ordinary people. He said government needs to work on a smaller scale, that big federal programs typically spur dissent.
His campaign theme is “freedom works.”
He said he can work across the aisle. He was once a registered Democrat.
“I think Democrats are on a reckless spending spree, and I generally want more support for the military than they do, but I understand where they come from,” he said.
McLeay said he is well-known professionally in Omaha and wants to introduce himself to central and western Nebraska. His grandfather was a physician in Stapleton for 12 years in the early 1900s.
McCleay graduated from Omaha Creighton Prep high school. He earned his law degree at the University of Virginia.
He said he wants to repeal Obamacare, and thinks it could be replaced with a $5,000 individual income tax credit for people to use to buy health insurance.
So far in the primary race, McLeay faces the ex-state treasurer, naval pilot and businessman Shane Osborne, as well as Midland University President Ben Sasse.
Sasse is an ex-U.S. Assistant to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.