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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Dec. 12, 1973)
5 til 9
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Nebraska's third Congressional district (comprising 3
per cent of the state's voters, but three-quarters of its land)
has been represented in Washington since 1961 by Rep.
Dave Martin. And conventional political wisdom has it that
the Kearney native possesses a safe seat for as long as he
After all, in six re-election victories his margin has never
dipped below 60 per cent. Further, the district is prime
Republican territory a sprawling 61 -county prairie dotted
by small towns and family farms and populated by
God-fearing folks who make their living close to the land.
Democrats, even ones like Gov. J.J. Exon and former Gov.
Frank Morrison, are viewed with deep suspicion.
Too, Martin's credentials within his Republican party
appear impeccable. He presided as the Nebraska GOP state
chairman during the first great Eisenhower victory and now
is a member of the Republican leadership hierarchy in the
House of Represenatives.
Yet for 1974, Martin is preparing to undergo what could
prove the strongest re-election challenge of his career.
First, he must clear the hurdle of Republican opposition
in the May state primary-something he never before has
had to bother with. Jack Langford, Buffalo County GOP
chairman, has decided to take on the state's senior
Congressman, and his drive is picking up momentum.
Langford's strong party contacts will serve him well in
lining up influential support, and his ultraconservative
political views are capturing the attention of the district's
If Martin is renominated, his Democratic opponent in
the general election almost is certain to be former State
Sen. Wayne Ziebarth of Wilcox. Ziebarth, who finished
unexpectedly strong behind Terry Carpenter and Wallace
Peterson in the 1972 Democratic senatorial primary, is a
folksy politician with a wide name recognition something
not possessed by Martin's previous Democratic challengers,
including such notables as William Colwell, John Homah
and J.B. Dean. (Remember them?)
Moreover, he surely would benefit from Exon's coattails
in what could well be a very strong Democratic year.
Still, if the breaks come Martin's way, he should be able
to return to Capitol Hill. He certainly deserves to.
By viture of his high seniority and near-top position on
the powerful House Rules Committee, he is able to
accomplish much more for Nebraska than could someone
with lesser experience.
His expert leadership in the critical areas of agriculture,
rural development, small business, conservation and public
power is of special relevance to the region's voters. Over the
years, he has secured countless grants for health facilities
and educational institutions from Grand Island to
Republican voters would be doing themselves a
disservice by replacing Martin with a man of reactionary
tendencies whose thinking is outside the GOP mainstream.
An experienced, pragmatic and sensible conservative of
known dedication and industry must not be swapped for a
political gadfly out on an ego trip.
Third district citizens also need 1 wary of Ziebarth,
who has managed to get where he is today by money,
publicity and well-placed friends. While serving on the
Nebraska American Revolution Bicentennial Commission,
he attempted to politicize the supposedly nonpartisan
group by infesting it with Democratic cronies. Ziebarth
would be a poor advertisement for Nebraska in contrast to
Martin and his prominent record of action and
In a related development, UNL student Blane Osterman
reportedly has signed on with the Ziebarth campaign staff.
It is doubtful how much he will be able to help his idol,
however. Osterman himself has lost elections for leadership
posts in campus Young Democrats and the Residence Hall
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