HARTINGTON — Parades and celebrations bring out politicians and Hartington’s Q125 celebration was no exception.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Scott Kleeb made a campaign stop here Sunday. He spent several hours in Hartington Sunday touring the car show, and visiting with people at the Hartington Senior Citizen Center and at Hartington’s Q125 headquarters.
Kleeb, 32, is challenging former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Governor Mike Johanns for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Chuck Hagel.
It’s an uphill battle in this staunchly Republican state, but Kleeb feels it’s a challenge he can make happen.
In 2006 he came out of no where and made a strong run at the District 3 Congressional seat being vacated by Tom Osborne, eventually losing to Gering’s Adrian Smith in one of the most conservative Congressional districts in the country.
In the Primary election, he faced off against Columbus millionaire Tony Raimondo. Despite being out-spent 3-2 Kleeb won 70 percent of the vote.
Kleeb said he has gained voters’ trust because he has shown he is sincerely interested in serving the public, and not interested in getting into public service to advance his own career.
“I came into politics because I was frustrated,” he said. “I came out of that last election inspired.“
Kleeb said people need to seek office for the right reasons.
“My opponent is in this race because the President of the United States asked him to run,” Kleeb said. “The reason I’m in this race is that I’ve got an eight-month old girl and I’m worried about her future. With food costs, fuel costs and stagnant wages, we’ve just got to make some changes to get things back on track.”
Kleeb said his enthusiasm, desire for change and background make him an ideal candidate. Although the Kleeb family roots date back to 1878 in Dunning Nebraska — a small town near Broken Bow — Kleeb actually spent nearly two decades of his life on a military base in Italy where he father worked as a civilian contractor.
He then attended college, earning his Doctorate at Yale, before returning home. He currently teaches history at Hastings College.
He worked as a ranch hand for awhile before taking the teaching position in Hastings.
Kleeb blames politics as usual for stalling the Farm Bill, a vital piece of legislation to rural Nebraskans.
”The Farm Bill is more than just words on a piece of paper,” he said. “These words have real life consequences to people here.”
Kleeb said his policy positions come from not only riding on the seat of a tractor and on the back of a horse, but from his years of studying and then teching history.”
His family also has a background in public service. His grandfather worked for long-time District 3 Congresswoman Virginia Smith.”
Public service is something to be proud of, he said.
”Today, it seems public service is too much about self, and not enough about service,” he said. “Public service is a most noble and honorable profession if done for the right reasons.”
Kleeb said he plans to run a clean campaign against Johanns, but said he will make sure and point out where the two candidates differ on issues.