Photo by George Lauby
Photo by George Lauby
with Julie Nielsen
Jon Bruning brought his freshly launched campaign for Nebraska governor to North Platte on Thursday, and spent about an hour shaking hands downtown at the Espresso Shoppe.
Bruning, the Nebraska Attorney General, entered a crowded Republican slate Feb. 10 -- Mike Foley, Tom Carlson, Pete Ricketts and Beau McCoy.
Bruning didn’t give a speech at the Espresso Shoppe. He told the news media that he enjoys western Nebraska and is looking forward to a race that some predict will be the most expensive governor’s race in history.
Bruning told the Bulletin that he “probably doesn’t have as much (campaign money) as some of the other candidates," but he doesn't think "dollars make the final decision in this state.”
He pointed to his experience in state government -- six years in the Legislature, followed by 12 years as Nebraska Attorney General. That matters, he said.
In 2004, Attorney General Bruning worked with the Nebraska Legislature to create Nebraska’s Medicaid Fraud Unit. The fraud unit has now recovered more than $77 million in fraudulant claims from hospitals, companies and individuals.
Bruning told the news media that he would definitely be friendly to agriculture if elected, noting that both he and his wife grew up on farms.
He told the Bulletin that he knows how to handle adversity, such as his upset loss to Deb Fischer in the 2012 Senate race.
“I stayed humble,” he said. “I took it. And, she is doing an outstanding job.”
Bruning also recently had a scare with colon cancer.
“It reminded me that life is short,” he said. “We have to do as much good as we can.”
Bruning said he is proud of his work on major issues, such as a successful lawsuit that challenged the EPA’s authority over Nebraska’s Gerald Gentlemen coal-fired electric-generation station, and an as-yet-unsettled lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.
And he said he has cracked down on child abusers and staunchly supported local law enforcement.
He said he would create a state agency to make it clear to the federal government what the state can handle.
He said the federal government is clumsy.
School board member Julie Nielsen urged Bruning to help the youth of the state. She said her son has worked two part-time jobs outside his area of study with a college degree. She said underemployment is big problem in Nebraska.
Nielsen said she hasn’t decided who to support in the primary. She said it’s good to have several qualified candidates from which to pick.
Former city councilwoman Judy Pederson thanked Bruning for his support of the backpack program that sends meals home for the weekend with students in need.
Bruning has directed some money into the backpack program in Lincoln schools.
Bruning told the Bulletin that he supports Gov. Dave Heineman and HHS Director Kerry Winterer in their efforts to direct the HHS, even though millions of dollars have been wasted. He said HHS needs to be more efficient, but successful foster care programs are not easy “when mom has an alcohol problem and dad is a meth head.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “It’s incumbent on us to do better. We have to do better.”
Bruning, looking relaxed in a winter vest and blue jeans, headed down Dewey Street when he left the Espresso Shoppe. He said he wanted to visit the River Valley Gun Gallery that opened in mid-August.