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Editorial: Thank you, but we can govern ourselves here in Nebraska

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Editorial

Two time-honored Nebraska truisms held up once more in Tuesday’s primary election, making them ripe for repetition to the so-called professional handlers and out-of-state observers.

» Never, ever, put Nebraskans in a box based on how the rest of the country thinks.

» Skip the splashy out-of-state or out-of-town endorsements. You’re usually wasting your time and even your money.

Nebraskans will make their own decisions, thank you very much. And they prefer the candidates who knock on doors and wear out their shoes.

Unless our national journalistic peers spend more time here than a quick plane stop in “flyover country,” they’ll never get that.

We were amused as their breathless stories sprouted like weeds during the primary’s last week, expecting Nebraskans’ votes on Nebraskans’ own races to fit their scripts on national 2022 midterm trends.

Obviously the former president’s involvement in our race for governor had much to do with that.

We were struck, though, by a prerecorded comment from one of Donald Trump’s best-known White House aides at Charles Herbster’s May 1 rally in Greenwood.

As tweeted at the time by Nebraska Examiner reporter Aaron Sanderford, Kellyanne Conway declared: “This election is about Nebraska.”

Yup. So just what were all you non-Nebraskans doing here?

We’ll leave it there, except to reiterate that national figures’ endorsements, ads and even campaign appearances go only so far in Nebraska when Nebraskans are deciding which Nebraskans will govern Nebraska.

When people start talking about “blue states” and “red states,” we first like to remind people where those colors came from.

They came from national TV networks’ election-night graphics — and we remember a time when they assigned Republicans the blue color and Democrats the red.

As for Nebraska being a “red state,” well, heck, of course we are: Have you out-of-staters happened to look across our 500-mile length on a fall football Saturday?

(Yes, we know there’s more to the label than that, but surely Husker fans from border to border have earned the right to use that sarcastic comeback. Steal it if you like.)

Seriously speaking, Nebraskans know best how they think and see the world. We speak our minds and cast our votes. And conservative we generally are. No question.

But we’re also the only 100% public-power state. We alone have America’s only one-house legislature and keep the parties and lobbyists outside of it looking in (officially, anyway).

Those choices don’t fit the partisan boxes.

We’ve made, retained and defended them for going on 85 years, through “officially” red and blue State Capitol administrations alike.

We fully expect Nebraskans will keep doing so, as long as they continue to believe — for good reason, in our view — that they’re the best choices for Nebraska.

So, our fellow Americans, don’t assume you know what Nebraskans will do based on national partisan checklists. We’re bound to surprise you.

Having said that, we’d add that Tuesday’s results should warn the residents of Nebraska’s own east coast — those living along the Missouri River — against falling for the same assumption about greater Nebraska.

We’ve seen political figures and groups in or near Omaha or Lincoln trying to shape our own decisions about our own local representatives by injecting funds, flooding mailboxes and using whatever clout they have to tilt outcomes.

Sometimes it works. Or seems to.

But it’s our observation that state and local candidates win in Nebraska only to the extent they engage deeply in what newly chosen GOP gubernatorial nominee Jim Pillen called “the ground game.”

If any of our region’s primary winners happen to coincide with metro-area endorsements and investments, we’d lay odds they didn’t rely on them in their own campaigns.

Fortunately for Tuesday’s winners and runners-up, most have a second chance on Nov. 8. They’ve got six months to reset, make adjustments and knock on more doors as they pursue the big prize.

We have one more thought for them, though: Take your full halftime break, so to speak.

Nebraskans have vacations to take and crops to tend this summer. We know you’ll campaign, but really, too much constant campaigning can annoy a lot of voters as well.

Congratulations to those who advanced from Tuesday’s primaries. And to folks in the other 49 states who think they have us all figured out, a closing word: Rubbish.

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