A crowded field is likely for next year's Omaha mayoral race, as several Republicans consider or begin to mount campaigns to unseat Democrat Jim Suttle.
Dave Nabity will be the first Republican out of the gate. The Omaha businessman who led the failed effort to oust Suttle in a 2011 recall vote said he would make a run for mayor this morning.
Others mulling a run include former Omaha City Council President Dan Welch and Omaha City Council members Jean Stothert and Franklin Thompson.
Welch said he planned to make a decision over the next three weeks. Neither Stothert nor Thompson could be reached for comment.
Suttle, who is up for re-election next year, has said he will run again.
The city's primary election is in April, followed by the general election in May.
Nabity becomes the first Republican in the race but he will not be the first person to challenge Suttle. State Sen. Brad Ashford announced earlier this month that he would run.
A former Republican-turned-Democrat-turned Republican, Ashford officially became an independent in December.
Nabity made his official announcement this morning at the end of his radio show on KFAB. He has been hinting and mulling over a bid for months. On Friday, Nabity acknowledged that he had commissioned a poll to test a potential candidacy. He also said he would be a strong candidate next year.
“The polling shows that Omahans are ready for a leader with courage and vision to deal with our problems,” Nabity said.
He is no stranger to politics or controversy.
His first foray into politics came in 2004, when he mounted a long-shot bid for governor. Nabity came in a distant third in the 2006 GOP primary election, behind Republicans Dave Heineman and Tom Osborne.
In 2009 he returned to the public spotlight as the spokesman of a local business group highly critical of how the city negotiated with its police and firefighter unions. Nabity described the City of Omaha's contracts with the unions as far too generous and said city officials were too close to the unions.
In 2010 Nabity assumed an instrumental role in running the petition drive to gather signatures that would force the vote on whether to oust Suttle.
He also was at the center of a storm when a civil war erupted within the recall movement, after an original member of the group accused Nabity of trying to take control of the committee to further his mayoral ambitions.
Nabity said Friday that such disputes happen, especially when a person “shows leadership.”
“Anybody that knows what went on knows that I showed leadership,” Nabity said.
Nabity's dispute with the firefighters union eventually landed him in court when fire union President Steve LeClair sued Nabity for defamation, citing comments Nabity made on the radio.
Nabity eventually settled, agreeing to pay $9,000. He said his insurance company advised him that it would be cheaper to settle than to fight in court.
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