Nebraska: Stadium Flap May Keep Fahey Out of Senate Race

Posted October 31, 2007 at 6:04pm

With the National Collegiate Athletic Association granting the City of Omaha an additional four months to agree on a proposal for a new baseball stadium for the College World Series, Democratic insiders believe the chances that Mayor Mike Fahey (D) will run for Senate have decreased.

Since former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) announced late last month that he would not seek his old job, Fahey has been seen by Democrats as their best potential candidate for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Chuck Hagel (R). But the issue over whether to build a new ballpark or renovate the existing one has roiled Omaha and made concentrating on anything else difficult for Fahey.

One Nebraska Democratic insider said this week that the decision by the NCAA to grant Omaha more time to resolve the issue has made a Fahey candidacy for Senate even more unlikely than it was last week.

“A Fahey run is very unlikely due to that and other factors,” this insider said. “We’re not ruling it out completely, however.”

Fahey said last week that he would take a few weeks to consider his options. Fahey spokesman Joe Gudenrath said following the NCAA’s move to grant the city more time to address its stadium issue that the mayor had nothing new to announce.

Rancher and college professor Scott Kleeb, the 3rd district Democratic nominee in 2006, is seen as the next best candidate for Senate should Fahey decline to run. Former Gov. Mike Johanns and state Attorney General Jon Bruning, meanwhile, are already battling for the Republican nomination in a primary campaign.

The College World Series has been played in Omaha annually since 1950. But the city could lose the event if it does not submit a plan for a new or renovated stadium to the NCAA that is satisfactory to the organization and deemed better than the plans offered by competing cities.

The stadium has become an issue for Fahey’s mayoral administration, as the community has been divided over whether to construct a new venue north of downtown or renovate Rosenblatt Stadium.

— David M. Drucker