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Madison County Republicans hope parties can work together

November 15, 2018

Despite numerous media predictions to the contrary, the 2016 electoral count of states trending Republican kept increasing on the TV screen at Black Cow Fat Pig in Norfolk.

The admittedly superstitious Madison County Republican committeeman vividly remembers saying to anyone who would listen that he wouldn’t move from his barstool until the election results were completed.

And he stayed true to his word for the whole night two years ago (save for just one bathroom break).

When he finally left the Norfolk restaurant around 1 a.m., John Dinkel was so pleased that Donald Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton and Republicans had done so well across the nation that he even asked the bartender if he could buy that particular stool for good luck.

Two years now have passed, and he never did pick up the lucky charm.

In this year’s election, the national results weren’t quite as good from Dinkel’s perspective, but Nebraska’s electoral sea of red easily prevailed.

As much as anything, Dinkel and Dottie McKeever of Norfolk, who as a Madison County committeewoman for the Republican Party, were glad the races were over and that the mid-term election had drawn a higher turnout.

“Obviously I’m a very conservative Republican, but I still very much respect the other side,” he said. “Especially when they’re active, you know?”

McKeever and Dinkel voiced concerns about the oftentimes aggressive discourse of both parties at a national level.

The two Republicans hoped the split of a Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives and a Republican Senate would force the two parties to work together.

“They’re never going to agree on some hot topics,” Dinkel said. “But, hopefully, they can compromise on some things.”

Dinkel said he also hoped that House Democrats wouldn’t get carried away with calling for too many investigations because “people are sick of those.”

If anything has taken place that is really that bad, it’ll come to light eventually, he said.

Unlike many races across the country, the state and local elections ended as the two Republicans generally expected. Both said Norfolk hadn’t experienced the extreme political polarization that some coastal regions experienced in the past several years.

“We’re pretty heavily Republican in Madison County,” Dinkel said. “It’s a pretty strong conservative area overall.”

Dinkel and McKeever said they would like to see local representatives address issues relevant to the Republican Party and rural farmers.

“Statewide, they’re going to be doing something with property taxes,” Dinkel said. “But now with Medicaid expansion and a tight budget, it’s going to be a challenge.”

McKeever expressed concern about the new Medicaid initiative’s passage, saying she hoped the state government could find enough money for it.

According to McKeever, Norfolk residents already do a good job of taking care of people in the area. Many churches hold fundraisers for the local rescue mission and contribute to food deliveries with Meals on Wheels.

Dinkel also voiced his worries about expanding Medicaid amid a state budget deficit and a large push by farmers to reduce property taxes.

“You can always be accused of being unfriendly to the needy. But at some point, you’re right,” he said, nodding to McKeever. “You have to pay for it.”

The two further hoped for several national issue-specific reforms and the passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill in Congress.

“Somewhere or other, the federal government has to pry some money loose to help the states pay for infrastructure,” Dinkel said. “We’ve been trying to get Highway 275 four-laned for 20 years.”

The two shared a desire for health care reform that incentivizes the industry to work efficiently.

McKeever and Dinkel also addressed their concerns over the national deficit, which stands at more than $21 trillion.

“Someone better get it under control soon,” McKeever said. “I mean, what if we ran our businesses or homes like that?”

Dinkel said the issue of national debt is on the back burner right now, but it should be addressed sooner rather than later.

McKeever said she’d like to encourage voters keep their eyes and ears open and stay involved over the next two years until the next election.

“We need to support the people we elected,” McKeever said. “And keep them reminded with why they were elected.”

Dinkel said he was hopeful and cautiously optimistic about getting important things done locally and nationally in the next couple of years.

His political involvement began in his late 20s and continued over the course of several decades. It even extended to dragging his kids out to set up yard signs and campaign door to door, he said.

“Candidly, I just feel passionately about the country, about the state and my kids,” Dinkel said. “That’s what I’m fighting for.”

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Coming Thursday: The Democratic reaction to last Tuesday’s election results, as well as from other Northeast Nebraskans.

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