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Campaign

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Jeff Turner
SENIOR STAFF WRITER

Being around Heath Mello is electrifying. The man has a commanding presence that could persuade people of almost anything. The night of the primary, Mello was out there talking to constituents, and he smiled, like every politician. However, a sincerity was coming from Mello. The guy was talking to these people, and maybe he was genuine – maybe he wasn’t, but it wouldn’t be ludicrous to say that he was good friends with everyone in the room, whatever the truth is tossed aside.

The notable response will be that a candidate should be about policy, and have substance, and it shouldn’t be about how ‘well liked’ they are. Mello is ‘well liked’, and that would be essential to his term as Mayor, the biggest reason being that people are more likely to listen to someone they can stand to be around. With being ‘well-liked’, comes an aptitude for persuasion. That would be all Mello would need to adapt to the needs of the people of Omaha as the policy of the day changed.

Our current mayor does not seem to demonstrate that trait. Despite what claims Mayor Stothert might make (no one really wants to seem like they’re nerve wracking to be around), the evidence shines through.

None more so painfully obvious than the statement from Police Chief Tim Dunning saying that he had blocked her cell phone number. He ended up endorsing Mello.

Stothert claimed during her first debate that people didn’t like to work with her because “she’s a leader.” While it is true that if one focuses on being liked by everyone; they will be lost in the tide, there is also something to be said for the leader that can command inspiration and convince people to follow him or her and work with him or her of their own volition. That person is Heath Mello.

A criticism of Mello that keeps coming up is how nervous he seems to distinguish himself from Stothert. Mello is a moderate democrat, and so it is fitting that he adopts a style of campaigning that is reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s initial run for governor of Arkansas. Charm and persuasion take center stage. Unfortunately, he will have to hit her on something tangible. As lovely as the idea is, a candidate cannot win without at least one attack ad, it’s not realistic.

Mello ought to hit Stothert on the bus systems. The buses are hard to come by, it’s hard to not find a bus in many other towns. Omaha, in this regard, is more reminiscent of a small town than a sprawling metro. The city has a surplus, and the bus systems demand funding.

Mello also ought to focus on events where he meets constituents in person. There is a genuine difference between seeing him on TV and meeting him. It is a difference that could win Mello the race if properly utilized.

Heath Mello will bring a fresh new perspective into Omaha politics, and especially into the Nebraska Democratic party, which has largely been dominated by old white men (Rep. Ashford, Senator Kerrey, Senator Nelson, Mayor Suttle). His policy flaws pale in comparison to what he could get done with pressure.

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Cammille Kammerer
SPORTS EDITOR

While fall is typically a time where Major League Baseball starts to wrap up and head into post-season play, the Mavericks are only getting started.

Just one week into the new school year, the Omaha baseball team hit the ground running as they officially began individual workouts as well as strength and conditioning.

The Mavericks participated in their first of 45 team practices under interim-head coach Evan Porter on Sept. 16 and have been scrimmaging three times a week.

Porter, who was previously the assistant coach for four years, stepped in as interim-head coach after the dismissal of Bob Herold over the summer.

After the 45-day practice limit ends on Oct. 24, the Mavs get a winter break and the pitchers will have a chance to rest their arms in preparation for the 2017 season.

“The tricky thing with pitchers is that they go from pitching in the spring with our season, then they usually jump right into summer ball and pitch all summer and come back and pitch in the fall too,” Porter said. “It’s really hard on their arms, and it’s a good thing when those guys can get some rest.”

“Once we get back from winter break we go back into individual mode up until Jan. 26. That’s our first day we can do full-team practice,” Porter said. “And then two-and-a-half weeks later we hit the road to UNLV (University of Nevada-Las Vegas).

Aside from beginning the fall campaign, the Mavs also scrimmaged in front of scouts on Sept. 26 in participation of Scout Day.

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Right-handed pitcher Brett Sasse said the first three innings took about an hour-and-a-half, and the last three were done in around a half hour.

“It was pretty brutal,” Sasse said. “I think we will learn as the season goes on that we have to deal with those pressures. There’s going to be a lot of times when we see scouts and those guns go up and it takes some getting used to.”

Scrimmaging in front of area scouts rose a lot of nerves for the team and the coaching staff, but Scout Day also brought to light many positives.

“A lot of our main guys that have been around the program had some rough times,” left-handed pitcher Sam Murphy said. “But it was nice to see the transfers and the younger guys kind of step up and win the day for us because it was going pretty brutal there for awhile.”

When asked about the new coaching transitions, the team is pretty confident. “There’s always going to be some sort of (former) coach (Bob) Herold left over,” said Murphy. “Whether that be some plays we run, the attitude or the way the team is ran, but otherwise it’s almost been a seamless transition.”

Fall practices and scrimmages present an opportunity for the Mavericks and the coaching staff to find out where the team is and prepare for another run at a conference title.

“We will do a lot of PFPs (pitcher fielding practices) where we work on bunt defense, pick off plays and holding runners,” Porter said. “We’re planning on winning a conference championship, getting hot at the right time and seeing where we can go.”

The Mavericks will open the 2017 season on Feb. 17 when Omaha takes the field against the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Rebels.

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Phil Brown
OPINION EDITOR

After a tense period of campaigning, hyper-focused marketing and evermore polemic punditry, the first real test of the 2016 Presidential Election came and went last week on Feb. 2, when Democratic and Republicans squared off in the Iowa caucus. Both sets of frontrunners got more than they bargained for.

Donald Trump, the Republican favorite heading into the caucus, was sporting an average of a 16.2-point spread over the rest of the field, according to RealClearPolitics’ latest polls. But it was his runner-up in the polls that achieved victory in Iowa last Tuesday. Ted Cruz, Texas’ junior senator, came out on top in a relatively comfortable fashion.

Cruz’s 27.7 to 24.3 percent margin over Trump came in stark contrast to the Democratic race, which many media outlets declared to be too close to call. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders remained in a dead heat even with 99 percent of votes being counted. At the end of the day, Clinton was a nose in front to the tune of 49.9 to 49.6 percent. The .3 difference wasn’t enough to convince outlets like the Associated Press to call a winner, but for all practical purposes, we can give Clinton and Cruz their respective Iowa victories.

Photo Courtesy of Twitter
Photo Courtesy of Twitter

The win validates Cruz’s salt-of-the-earth, beer-drinking persona. The Cruz campaign excelled at boots-on-the-ground campaign work, and that’s what proved to be the difference-maker in his race against Trump, who was closer to third-place Marco Rubio after the fact.

For Cruz, going all-in on the anti-establishment rhetoric reaped rewards in Iowa, but may alienate his establishment benefactors beyond return. Trump’s upset demonstrates the weakness of his campaign, which will only continue to hurt him when it comes to actual votes, as opposed to his personality, which will continue to win him poll points.

Rubio may come out the best, with a balanced approach. Having yet to burn bridges with establishment Republicans, but still dutifully hitting the right popular notes, Rubio’s middle-of-the-road strategy saw him thoroughly beat the rest of the GOP pack: with more than double the votes of his nearest rival, Ben Carson. Don’t count out Rubio, especially entering the New Hampshire primary as we go to press.

On the Democratic side, the race proved more narrow than anyone could predict. While Sanders had been gaining ground in polls, Clinton would’ve always been pegged as the frontrunner in the Democratic race, if not the election as a whole.

But the caucus ended with the two in a virtual tie. In fact, according to NPR, there were at least a dozen tie-breaking coin-flips to decide tight precinct races. And while Clinton was awarded the edge, it’s hard to take away complete confidence in either candidate at this point.

For Clinton supporters and campaigners, perhaps the tight race can serve as a warning to those who felt the Democratic nomination would be a pushover. Clinton’s campaign needs to do better at attracting the demographic Sanders has most successfully attracted: millennials.

For Sanders, there’s still hope of a nomination. But the Iowa loss throws his ability to appeal to more conservative states into question.

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