States

Nebraska Gubernatorial Hopeful Tries to Cast Off Long-Shot Label

By Alan Richard — October 02, 2002 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Stormy Dean wants to make the ambitious leap from his local school board directly to the governor’s office.

Realistic? Not really, some in Nebraska say. But don’t suggest that he doesn’t have a chance. He won’t listen.

Asked if Nebraska voters are taking his candidacy seriously, the 45-year-old Democratic nominee for the state’s top job replied: “Why would you say that?”

The school board president of the 3,100-student Ralston, Neb., schools outside Omaha, maintains his determination despite a recent potential snag.

Mr. Dean is the first Democrat running for governor in many years not endorsed by the Nebraska State Education Association, the state affiliate of the National Education Association. The union is not endorsing either major-party candidate.

Mr. Dean said it was a positive sign that the union hadn’t backed the Republican incumbent, Gov. Mike Johanns.

“For him to not get the endorsement speaks volumes,” Mr. Dean said. “Ultimately, we’ll get a ton of support from the rank- and-file teachers.”

Not so, political scientist John R. Hibbing contends. He says the state union’s failure to support and, more importantly, marshal volunteers and money for Mr. Dean shows just how much of a stretch the Democrat faces.

“It’s an uphill fight,” said Mr. Hibbing, who teaches political science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “It’s a Republican state, and [voters] need an awfully good reason to vote Democrat.”

Spurring Debate

Mr. Dean isn’t convinced he’s out of the picture. In fact, he’s helped start some important debates about education and other issues, Mr. Hibbing said.

For starters, Mr. Dean put gambling on the table. Throwing his support behind a November ballot question that had sought approval for a constitutional amendment to allow gambling in Nebraska, Mr. Dean said there ought to be a way for the state to make money from the industry, and spend it on schools.

Unfortunately for the candidate, a judge recently threw out the referendum on a technicality.

Debate over gambling did resonate politically, prompting Gov. Johanns to say that if the state’s unicameral legislature ever allowed gambling, any state taxes collected from the pastime could help raise teacher salaries.

As Ralston’s school board president for the past year, Mr. Dean immediately declared himself the education candidate.

Married and the father of two children, Mr. Dean also has been a teacher. He points out that he taught accounting and business classes for four years at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha.

He pledges that as governor, he would place school spending as the state’s top policy priority. He wants to raise Nebraska teachers’ pay substantially. In the 2001-02 school year, according to the NEA, Nebraska’s average $36,236 teacher salary ranked 43rd nationally.

“Right now, we need to fund education first,” Mr. Dean said.

Republicans have found this year’s race against Mr. Dean bewildering at times. “He’s got a record on the school board, but that’s about it,” said John Barrett, the executive director of the Nebraska Republican Party.

Mr. Dean is the chief financial officer of InfoUSA, an Omaha-based marketing firm founded by Vin Gupta, a friend and supporter of former President Clinton.

Mr. Gupta helped persuade Mr. Dean to fill the empty spot on the Democratic ticket for governor.

Mr. Dean hopes the grassroots feel of his campaign will win favor with Nebraskans. He’s even been known to answer the telephone at his campaign office.

Just don’t ask him if he thinks he has a chance.

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
Future of the First Amendment:Exploring Trends in High School Students’ Views of Free Speech
Learn how educators are navigating student free speech issues and addressing controversial topics like gender and race in the classroom.
Content provided by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Webinar
Real-World Problem Solving: How Invention Education Drives Student Learning
Hear from student inventors and K-12 teachers about how invention education enhances learning, opens minds, and preps students for the future.
Content provided by The Lemelson Foundation

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

States Some States Want to Lock in Universal Free School Meals as Federal Waivers End
The pandemic-era waivers let students regardless of income get free school meals and drew wide use nationally.
4 min read
Norma Ordonez places a tray of grilled cheese sandwiches into an oven to warm as she prepares take-away lunches for students kept out of class because of the coronavirus at Richard Castro Elementary School early Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in west Denver.
Norma Ordonez places sandwiches into an oven to warm as she prepares take-away lunches for students at Richard Castro Elementary School in Denver in 2020.
David Zalubowski/AP
States Governors Divided on How to Keep Schools Safe From Gun Violence
The Associated Press asked governors across the U.S. how to reduce mass shootings and gun violence.
4 min read
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during a rally to end gun violence, Friday, May 27, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
States Opinion Searching for Common Ground: The Parental-Rights Bill, aka the 'Don’t Say Gay’ Bill
Rick and USC dean Pedro Noguera discuss Florida's law curbing gender and sexuality talk and its impact on students, teachers, and parents.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
States Texas Governor Sparks Backlash With Talk of Rolling Back Free School for Immigrant Kids
Critics assailed Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's idea as “hare-brained” and “cruel.”
Robert T. Garrett, The Dallas Morning News
5 min read
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2021.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2021.
Eric Gay/AP