Russ Barger Is the Best Choice for District 26

George Dungan III is the definition of a liberal “carpetbagger”

The most important State Senate race in Lancaster County is that which pits conservative Republican Russ Barger against liberal Democrat George Dungan III in Senate District 26.  

Russ Barger is the clear choice for voters in this race, and The Cornhusker Guardian strongly endorses Russ Barger for Senator in District 26.

The reasons for this are four-fold.

First (and as the Lincoln Journal-Star points out), George Dungan III is not a longtime resident of District 26.  He grew up in a very prosperous area of Lincoln, but he moved into this largely working-class District simply to run there.  This is because District 26 has in recent years been Democrat-leaning, and it offered an open seat with no incumbent on the ballot.  

But when re-districting occurred shortly after Mr. Dungan’s move to District 26, it placed his new home outside the District’s boundaries.  So what did Mr. Dungan do?  

George Dungan III just picked up and moved again, this time into what is now the district.  The cynicism of this strategy is apparent when voters learn that Mr. Dungan’s first move was into a rented apartment (knowing that he might be re-districted out of Senate District 26).  When that happened, Mr. Dungan bought a home “in district” (secure in the knowledge that this would not change for at least ten years).

Mr. Dungan has thus shown himself to be what was known after the Civil War as a “carpetbagger” (i.e., someone who moves into a geographic area simply to cash in on its political opportunities, with no real or longterm commitment to the community).  

In Cornhusker State terms, this means that George Dungan III is fundamentally just a carpetbagger in search of a Nebraska Senate seat, any Senate seat, to which he can be elected.  

George Dungan III is fundamentally just a carpetbagger in search of a Nebraska Senate seat, any Senate seat, to which he can be elected.

This is a tremendous dis-service to the residents of District 26.  (And it is in strong contrast to Russ Barger, who entered the race only after being repeatedly asked to do so by a number of high-ranking Nebraska state officeholders, all of whom recognized Mr. Barger’s pre-eminent qualifications to be a State Senator.)

Russ Barger, on the other hand, has lived in District 26 for almost 23 years.  He and his wife have reared their family in District 26, and he has shown a strong and longtime commitment to the community’s betterment.  George Dungan III fails that test, and he fails it badly.  

For example, Russ Barger responded to the Ballotpedia survey, and he said there that public safety as well as protection of our Constitutional rights were among his three top themes (the other was controlling government spending and reducing reliance on property taxes). 

Even at this late date, George Dungan III has not even responded to that important survey, which speaks poorly of the Dungan candidacy.  

Mr. Dungan’s own website, on the other hand, spouts mostly liberal Democratic bromides, slogans and dangerous policy proposals.  George Dungan III’s timid bow to public safety, for example, talked about “investments” in “fire and rescue.”  He pointedly did not advocate, however, for “investments” in police and other law enforcement agencies.  San Francisco (and its crime problems), here we come!

The question can even be asked:  Does George Dungan III have a problem with commitment in general (not just commitment to Senate District 26 and its northeast Lincoln community)?  This is very apparent at the personal level, and it presents a strong contrast to Mr. Barger, which informed voters should take into account.  

Mr. Dungan obviously sees nothing wrong with this uncommitted living arrangement, even though Russ Barger has pointed out the importance of strong families and vibrant small businesses to the northeast Lincoln community that comprises much of Senate District 26.

Russ Barger, for example, married his wife (he did not just live with her), and they even adopted children (thus being exemplary in their pro-life commitment).  

George Dungan III, however, actually advertises on his campaign website the fact that he is essentially “shacked up” with his self-described “partner” Britta Tollefsrud “and their dog Redford.”  

Mr. Dungan obviously sees nothing wrong with this uncommitted living arrangement, even though Russ Barger has pointed out the importance of strong families and vibrant small businesses to the northeast Lincoln community that comprises much of Senate District 26.  

The Barger approach is important when voters consider that the sociological meta-studies are clear:  children (the future of our society) turn out best when reared by their own parents in a stable-low conflict marriage (not a “shack up” situation).  Russ Barger thus presents a much better example of public morality and public policy than does George Dungan III. 

Second, Russ Barger’s qualifications for the office of State Senator are head and shoulders above those of Mr. Dungan.  

Mr. Barger is an experienced lawyer with background in state government (e.g., as Assistant Attorney General and as a hearing officer — similar in many ways to an Administrative Law Judge — for the Nebraska Department of Labor) as well as in private law practice.  

Russ Barger is also an entrepreneur, owning not just one but two businesses in the agricultural sector (which reflects the fact that he grew up on a Nebraska farm and understands our state’s largest industry as well as the thinking of senators in farm and ranching parts of the Cornhusker State).  Mr. Barger also served two terms on the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District Board.  And he attended Nebraska schools, including through college and law school.

George Dungan III, on the other hand, has very limited experience of any strongly relevant kind, most of it as a public defender, which gives him a very narrow view of the law. (He has thus spent virtually all of his professional life on the public payroll at the taxpayers’ expense.)  Mr. Dungan’s sole advertised governmental policy function on his campaign website, for example, was membership on the “Lincoln Pedestrian Bicycle Advisory Committee.” This is not exactly a strong qualification for election to the State Senate.     

Nebraska, however,  is only one vote away from having a filibuster-proof legislature in January.  Conservative Republican Russ Barger can be that vote.

Furthermore, all of George Dungan III’s college and law school work was done outside Nebraska, whereas Russ Barger attended Nebraska schools, including college and law school.  Which candidate has thus demonstrated more understanding of (as well as ties and commitment to) the great State of Nebraska?  

Third, Russ Barger has a policy philosophy that is more attuned to the district, which is one reason why he surprised observers by gaining more primary election votes in a Democrat-leaning district than liberal Democrat George Dungan III. 

Fourth and finally, because of the odd way in which the Unicameral has been organized, it is extremely difficult to get important things accomplished for Nebraska due to “filibusters” by Democrats and by liberal Republicans (where a minority can totally block the will of the majority).   

Nebraska, however,  is only one vote away from having a filibuster-proof legislature in January.  Conservative Republican Russ Barger can be that vote.  Nebraska does not need another Democrat in the Unicameral, especially if it is George Dungan III, who is too liberal for Nebraska and for Senate District 26.

For the reasons set forth above, The Cornhusker Guardian strongly and enthusiastically endorses Russ Barger for election as Senator from District 26, and it urges District voters to elect him as their Senator on November 8th.

Because of the large number of general election races and the size of its editorial staff, The Cornhusker Guardian is limiting its general election endorsements to the two ballot questions and to races that are both contested and within the geographical areas where it has editorial staff to cover them.  It will not endorse in races that are uncontested.

By “uncontested,” The Cornhusker Guardian means a candidate being unopposed, or being opposed by a marginal candidate, such as one listed on a “marijuana” party ballot line.

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