Photo by George Lauby
Bart McLeay was in North Platte for the second time Tuesday, campaigning for the U.S. Senate.
McLeay, 54, faces a strong field of Republicans in the May primary -- former state treasurer Shane Osborn, Midland University president Ben Sasse and banker Sid Dinsdale.
He is a leading business attorney with the Kutak-Rock firm of Omaha, coordinating 140 attorneys in 12 states, a position he has held for seven years.
He also holds an undergraduate degree in accounting.
McLeay believes his ability to forge agreements among opponents, along with knowledge of law and business, makes him the best qualified.
“The race will come down to the candidate with the best ideas and experience,” he said. “I’ve been a business attorney for 28 years -- nearly thee decades of resolving disputes. I’ve handled some very significant business matters. I understand the economic process of business growth and expansion.”
McLeay puts an average of 120 miles a day on his car making campaign stops, since he announced he would run in July. He was in North Platte on July 31. His campaign treasurer is North Platte accountant Bob McChesney. He is "re-introducing himself" to central and western Nebraska. His grandfather was a physician in Stapleton for 12 years in the early 1900s.
McLeay said Obamacare is a failed policy, not merely a failed website.
“I’m listening to people about increases in their rates,” he said. “They are experiencing fright. I talked to a woman in Wayne who said she is past her child bearing years and does not need pediatric dental or vision coverage. She is most concerned with emergency care, but her premiums are doubling and her co-pay has tripled.”
There are valid Republican alternatives to Obamacare – market based reforms. He said regional marketplace exchanges would be good, where buyers could shop for insurance and hospital care. He said proposals by Reps. Paul Broun and Steve Scalise of Louisiana and a Republican study group on healthcare are worth evaluating.
“A huge component should involve individuals and consumer choice,” he said. “There are indications that there is not enough market data to make personal decisions. If we had widespread use, we would see prices go down and insurance prices become more competitive.”
McLeay said he would work through gridlock in Congress by building on a basic agreement.
“Freedom has worked,” he said. “That is our common denominator, the feeling of all Americans. We have to start with that shared feeling. Major changes -- comprehensive health care reform, comprehensive immigration reform -- are doomed to fail in our state of gridlock. We should start with ‘little wins,’ instead of things that are certain not to be accepted by the other party.”
He said he would be honored to represent Nebraska with its low unemployment, balanced budget and high community morale.
“Nebraska is a model state to be followed and admired,” he said.
Among McLeay’s court victories, he helped keep 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.
He said he can work across the aisle. He was once a registered Democrat.
McKleay is a graduate of Omaha Creighton Prep high school. He earned a law degree at the University of Virginia.