Lincoln Journal Star: Domina walks his own path


Dave Domina provides voters with the opportunity to elect a truly independent, competent, thoughtful and experienced voice to represent them. He stands in stark contrast with his opponent in all those regards. The article below captures the Dave Domina I have known and trusted as my legal consul and friend for the past 40 years. What you see is what you get. The kind of public servant you can be proud of, and would hope for. Wow!

All the best,

John K. Hansen, President

Nebraska Farmers Union

1305 Plum Street, Lincoln, NE 68502

402-476-8815 Office 402-476-8859 Fax

402-476-8608 Home 402-580-8815 Cell

Lincoln Journal Star

October 5, 2014

Domina walks his own path


Dave Domina says he’s on a different path.

A seat in the U.S. Senate should not be about party or money or popular positions or poll-tested messaging, he argues.

It should be about partisan-free judgment and freedom from the demands or expectations of big money and special interests.

That’s the message Domina delivered last week to a few dozen campaign contributors gathered in a Lincoln condo five stories above Canopy Street at the end of a workday and to a history class of about 40 attentive Creighton Prep seniors in Omaha just before their lunch hour.

After 15 years as a registered independent, Domina told the students, "I had to re-register as a Democrat to get in the race," recognizing a successful nonpartisan, independent bid for the Senate probably is unrealistic — a bridge too far in a political system dominated by two parties.

Yes, he had been a Democratic candidate for governor in 1986, Domina said, but partisanship and party warfare — it’s "almost tribal" now — made it a lot more comfortable for him to be an independent voter.

On reflection, he told the students, "I wouldn’t have been a very good governor. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have enough depth or experience."

Domina finished second in the seven-candidate 1986 contest won by former Lincoln Mayor Helen Boosalis.

Twenty-eight years later, Domina believes he’s ready, seasoned, informed, and battle-tested in the courtroom where he has become one of the state’s most successful trial attorneys.

His law office in west Omaha is dominated by a stunning mural telling the story of the state’s history, a commissioned work of art that spreads out over the decades behind two ornate columns that are part of the dramatic display.

Domina is the high-profile attorney representing Nebraska landowners in their ongoing battle with TransCanada over the Keystone XL oil pipeline. His legal resume is long and deep, including a key role in the impeachment of a Nebraska attorney general and a University of Nebraska regent, and a billion-dollar jury judgment on behalf of national cattle producers, a monetary award subsequently set aside by the judge.

Born in Cedar County in northeast Nebraska, Domina grew up on a farm and launched his law practice in Norfolk before moving to Omaha.

Domina’s success has led to personal wealth, and Republican officials have long expected him to funnel millions of his own dollars into the Senate race in an effort to level the playing field.

But that’s not probable, it would seem.

"If I had a plan, I wouldn’t tell you," Domina said during an interview in his law office.

"But this Senate seat is not for sale either to a candidate or to outside interests," he said. "I’m not going to try to buy a seat in the Senate."

Domina is waging his own kind of campaign.

"I started not knowing anything about being a candidate," he said.

"So I listened to advice and I experimented. I decided my hill is steep anyway and if I conducted a conventional campaign, it would be harder to distinguish myself.

"I have chosen a different path."

And that includes "rejecting the argument to please the PACs and please the party," he said.

Domina is maintaining a law practice while he campaigns and he is speaking in unfiltered language, taking some positions that fly in the face of conventional political caution.

With no equivocation, Domina supports comprehensive immigration reform that includes "a prompt pathway to full citizenship" for immigrants who have settled illegally in the United States and have been living their lives as Americans.

The Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, should be fixed and improved, not repealed, Domina says.

State participation in expansion of Medicaid coverage to the working poor is a no-brainer, he told the Creighton Prep students, but it has been blocked in Nebraska by "allegiance to political dogma."

Yes, he knows immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship is a hot-button issue that could be used against him, Domina acknowledged during the interview at his law firm.

But, he said, he senses he is "not out of touch with a majority of Nebraskans who think it’s ludicrous to even consider rounding up 10 million or 11 million people and sending them back."

At the fundraiser in Lincoln, Domina said the 2014 election should "challenge us to do something we don’t do often enough: elect a candidate on merit," not by party identification or because of money-generated promotion or advertising.

"A willingness to accept slings and arrows is required to try to make the case," he said.

Domina would like to tackle the challenge of attempting to craft campaign finance reform that can squeeze past the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rulings that tightened restrictions based on the general premise that equates corporations with people and money with speech.

Those decisions empower money and distort the political process, he said.

"Why would an officeholder not make an objective and honorable decision?" Domina asked the students at Creighton Prep.

And then with a broad sweep of his arms, he drew a giant, invisible dollar sign in the air.

If he’s elected to the Senate, he said, he’d be prepared to engage in "one-to-one conversations" with individual senators, attempting to build a bipartisan coalition over time to "clean the system up (before) we undo democracy with corporate spending."

Tax reform would be a priority legislative issue for Domina.

And here’s some ideas he’d be prepared to debate: Rewrite the income tax system to provide "almost no credits or exemptions," with the exception of retaining the home mortgage deduction and personal exemptions — both with caps attached — and perhaps the child care credit.

On another legislative topic, Domina said infrastructure investment is "the economic impetus that lies before us."

Domina said he’d bring "intellectual curiosity, a willingness to listen, and a desire to engage."

His Republican opponent — GOP nominee Ben Sasse — is beholden to moneyed special interests who have opposed a farm bill and resist fundamental change in the tax structure, Domina said.

Sasse’s continued pledge to attempt to repeal Obamacare "marginalizes him," Domina said.

"I have lost decisions in court," he said. "I accept that. I move on.

"In governing, you accept the decision of the majority and move on."

But not in the current landscape of hyper-party warfare, Domina said.

"Political parties are fighting for control of the football between the 40-yard-lines, each knowing neither can advance the ball or has a good field goal kicker.

"They just fight. And that’s a foolish game."