Independent may join Senate race -
Published Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 2:15 pm / Updated at 11:00 am
Independent may join Senate race

Forget Republicans and Democrats.

A rancher and restaurateur from Callaway, Neb., is thinking about mounting an independent bid for U.S. Senate.

Jim Jenkins, 54, says he will spend the next month talking to Nebraskans and others to see whether he can raise money and garner support without a “D” or an “R” behind his name.

Jenkins, a Democrat up until a “few days ago,” said he would not run if he could not win.

“I'm totally, fully aware of the risks in what I'm trying to do, and I understand it may not work. But I've always had a lot of confidence in Nebraska voters. They're pretty independent-minded, and they might give me a shot,” said Jenkins.

Jenkins said he decided to run as an independent because he's grown “disgruntled” with the two major political parties over the past several years.

He said neither party looks to build “consensus” or to work together to solve the nation's problems. He also said he fits the independent label much closer than he does the Democratic one.

Jenkins, who considered running for governor in 2006 as a Democrat, said he has voted a split-ticket in the past, supporting both Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican Gov. Dave Heineman.

“I've always thought of myself as a moderate and a centrist,” said Jenkins.

Jenkins is one of several people considering U.S. Senate bids this month in the wake of Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson's announcement that he would not seek a third term.

He is sure to face competition from candidates on both sides of the political aisle.

Three Republicans are currently seeking the GOP nomination. The three have a considerable head-start on Jenkins: Attorney General Jon Bruning, State Treasurer Don Stenberg and State Sen. Deb Fischer.

In addition, several Democrats are considering getting into the race, including former Nebraska Gov. Bob Kerry.

Jenkins was raised in Custer County but left Nebraska for about 20 years to attend school and work in the restaurant and business world in Boston, Chicago and Columbus, Ohio.

He returned to Nebraska in 1996, developing a steakhouse chain known as Whiskey Creek. He sold that company a decade ago.

He currently owns Skeeter Barnes restaurants in Nebraska and Iowa. He also runs a cattle operation near Callaway, raising Angus beef. He also leases ranchland in other parts of the state.

If he gets into the race, Jenkins said he would use some of his own money, but he would not solely fund his campaign.

“If I can't raise money, then I'm not going to run. The notion that you can just go buy an office is appalling,” said Jenkins.

Contact the writer:


Contact the writer: Robynn Tysver    |   402-444-1309    |  

Robynn is's elections writer. She's covered presidential politics in Iowa's caucuses, and gubernatorial and Senate races in Nebraska.

Read more related stories
Officials announce effort to lure more veterans to Nebraska
SB 132nd Street lane closed
Shane Osborn grabs several endorsements
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
Firefighters take on 'fully engulfed barn fire'
Man's body found near North 36th, Seward Streets
Omaha area may get 1 inch of rain tonight
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
Owners of exotic dance bar deny prostitution allegations
More Nebraskans are electing to vote early
A day after Ricketts endorsement, Ted Cruz backs Sasse for Senate
TD Ameritrade says profit up 35 percent in second quarter
Some city streets remain closed
Nebraska's U.S. Senate candidates stick to familiar topics at Omaha forum
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
8% of alcohol sellers checked in Omaha area last week sold booze to minors
OPS bus, SUV collide; no students onboard at the time
Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
< >
Breaking Brad: Inside the mind of a 99-year-old real estate agent
I saw an article about a 99-year-old real estate agent who's still working. “This house is extra special. It has indoor toilets!”
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
The idea that Paul Hogan had studied and then hatched at his mother's table was that older people, rather than moving in with relatives or to an assisted-living center, would much prefer to stay home instead.
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »