Nebraska Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy's resignation yesterday caught quite a few people by surprise. Some in the media, for example. But that was more because of the timing. Rumors of Sheehy's behavor prompted the Omaha World-Herald and KETV-Channel 7 to request Sheehy's e-mail, phone, and office records. They did the hard work of investigating Sheehy.
Governor Dave Heineman and his office did nothing. Nothing, of course, until the World-Herald contacted Heineman for comment for their report on Sheehy's abuse of his state-issued cellphone.
This isn't the first time a political appointee of Heineman has turned to be an embarrassment. There's David Phipps, the Douglas County Election Commissioner who consolidated polling places in poorer sections of town, yet left two Elkhorn polling places intact despite being only two blocks apart. And let's not forget Lorelee Byrd, the Heineman designee who resigned before she should be impeached for mishandling $300,000 in state funds as state Treasurer.
"Governor Dave" called it "new information" when he received the information from the World-Herald on Friday. Except, according to KETV, the source for all of this information is Heineman's office. Here's the question that "Governor Dave" needs to answer. When multiple media outlets are making requests to your office for Sheehy's records, wouldn't it be a good idea for your office to look into these a bit further?
Maybe, like, so you can act like you know what you are doing. People expect that of the governor of the state. It was funny when CollegeHumor.com punked his license plate contest. It's not funny when that same incompetence festers corruption.
So now that Heineman's hand-picked successor has now blown up in his face like Wile E. Coyote's plans to nail the Road Runner, next year's election to replace the (thankfully) term-limited "Governor Dave" is now wide open. Who will emerge?
I'll throw out a name because nobody else has: Tom Osborne.
Maybe Tom Osborne's political days are behind him. I don't know what Osborne has planned for the future once his term as "Athletic Director Emeritus" is over. I don't believe it includes cleaning out the garage. And I definitely don't think it includes fishing all the time.
Tom Osborne isn't a man who's going to be content to sit around the house. There's another chapter in the Tom Osborne story. He didn't sit back in 1998 after retiring as football coach. He didn't sit back after losing the 2006 gubernatorial primary. And I don't see him sitting back now.
Maybe Tom Osborne hasn't given much thought towards running for election again. This weekend's news has certainly revealed a vacuum in the leadership of the state. And it's not like Tom Osborne has never ever stepped into a situation like this before.
Maybe Tom Osborne doesn't want to be governor. Maybe Nancy Osborne doesn't want to become the first lady of Nebraska. But don't ever assume that Tom Osborne won't do something like this because he's retired. Osborne has had plenty of encore performances to his coaching career.
Is there one more in store?