Rancher and restaurant owner Jim Jenkins announced today that he would not seek an independent bid for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Ben Nelson.
With Congressional approval ratings at historic lows and the two parties mired in grid-lock, Jenkins hoped to offer Nebraskans an independent, centrist choice in the upcoming Senate race. "I have determined that there is not time to raise the money and build the organization necessary to make a credible run," said Jenkins. "It is unfortunate that Nebraska election law creates barriers for candidates who represent the fastest growing segment of voters - the independent voter. As I discussed my candidacy with supporters throughout the state, there is even deeper dissatisfaction than I thought among voters who are fed up with the partisanship and big money which has taken over the political process."
Initially, Jenkins had thought he could not run because he changed his voter registration after Jan. 1 of this year, which according to a new law passed by the state legislature prevented him from running as a candidate by petition. However, it was determined that he could run by creating a new party which would have required 4,700 signatures of registered voters, spread between the three congressional districts and submitted to the Secretary of State's office by Aug. 1.
Jenkins said that "we were likely going to end up with the exact race we wanted, running against a highly partisan Republican, with thin support among moderates, and a relatively obscure Democrat without state wide experience.To win the election our research showed that we would need 1/3 of the Democratic votes, 1/5 of the Republican votes and most of the Independent votes," Jenkins said.
Jenkins predicted that the two political parties will continue to lose favor among voters, especially young people, as they remain locked in rigid ideological positions. "The only hope to solve the massive problems facing our country is to work together, which will require that everyone place their sacred cows onto the negotiating table," said Jenkins.
In the future, Jenkins plans to enter another political race as an independent. "I have no doubt that an independent candidate who is well-funded and organized can win in Nebraska," said Jenkins. In the meantime, people supporting the independent movement in Nebraska plan on launching a website called NebraskaIndependent.org that will serve to help organize independents in Nebraska. Independents also plan on working on initiating and supporting legislation in the State Legislature to open up the Nebraska political system to independent candidates.
Jenkins said that he is very grateful to all of the people who invested significant time in reviewing his possible run and in particular thanks Senator Wightman and Senator Avery for introducing Legislative Bill 1070 which would repeal the language that requires candidates to change their voter registration prior to Jan. 1 of the election year in which they wish to run.