Mike Johanns’ decision not to run for re-election led to a large field of Nebraska candidates for his U.S. Senate seat, including five Republicans. In this NET News Campaign Connection 2014 Signature Story, Mike Tobias reports on the background and politics of banker Sid Dinsdale, one of the GOP candidates.
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“I’m running against the overreach of the Federal government,” Dinsdale told them.
Government overreach is a dominant theme for Dinsdale, in interviews, speeches and his opening comments from the April GOP Senate debate in Lincoln.
“The biggest threat to America right now is government intrusion into our lives and businesses,” Dinsdale said during the debate. “Washington, D.C., just keeps getting bigger and more powerful, less responsive to the citizens of America and that includes Nebraskans.”
Dinsdale said this concern, one of the main reasons he’s running for U.S. Senate, comes from decades of work as a banker.
“As a community banker there’s nothing more gratifying than to see somebody step out and take a risk and work hard and worry and stress, but succeed,” Dinsdale said in a recent interview. “That is what’s fun about community banking, where you see somebody that 10 years ago maybe didn’t hardly have anything, but through their efforts they succeeded. So what I see happening is government just keeps inserting itself and making more challenges and artificial barriers for those people trying to do that. To me, that risk-taking and perseverance and hard work, that’s what makes America great and different. The bigger, the stronger the centralized government gets, and these agencies get, the harder it is for people to do that.”
“I’ve felt bad regulation, what it can do to businesses,” Dinsdale added. “I don’t think everybody in Washington is evil, they just don’t understand the unintended consequences of some of the stuff they’re doing.”
Dinsdale, who is 61, was born and raised in Palmer, a town of a few hundred people just north of Grand Island. As a youth he worked on the family’s farm operations, but banking was in his blood. His grandfather helped start a bank in Palmer; his uncle and father helped it expand. After high school Dinsdale got a degree in finance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and worked at banks in Lincoln, Papillion and Colorado before becoming president of the family banking company, Pinnacle Bancorp, in 1994. He now calls Elkhorn home.
While this is Dinsdale’s first run for office, he’s been active behind the scenes. He has donated to campaigns, mostly supporting Republicans but also a couple Democrats. He also helped fund and was active in a 2011 recall effort targeting Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle, a Democrat.
“It kind of showed me a few people can make a big difference,” Dinsdale said. “Even though we lost the recall, we got enough votes on petition to have a special election, and I believe we were part of the reason we had a one-term mayor.”
Like Nebraska’s other Republican Senate candidates, Dinsdale describes himself as conservative and pro-life, and is vigorously opposed to the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, saying the act can’t be fixed and should be repealed.
“I have no intention of authoring my own health care plan,” Dinsdale said during the Lincoln Republican Senate Debate. “But I would have an intention of getting other people in the health care world to help compose a health care plan and it needs to have market forces because that’s what can keep down the true problem of health care, which is cost. It was never about access.”
Dinsdale said he’s against amnesty for immigrants illegally in the United States, “and I really don’t want to discuss anything else until we seal the border.”
He believes there must be a clear American interest before deploying military forces abroad. “I think if Americans need to be protected, maybe, for example, or if there was a nuclear threat, possibly. I don’t really want to theorize on what that would be,” Dinsdale said.
Dinsdale said his experience as a banker would be valuable in working on reducing the federal debt. He called it a spending problem, and said almost everything in the budget needs to be on the table. “The Department of Agriculture, everybody I talk to says we just don’t need that great big department, especially how it’s morphed into a food stamp bill,” Dindsdale said. “So I think everything should be on the table just like a business and other than defense, which we’ve got to agree on what the number is to keep it strong, everything should be on the table.”
“One of the biggest, easiest things to me is just energy independence,” Dinsdale continued. “I think there’s so many good consequences to being energy independent. So build the pipeline, don’t shut down coal-fired power plants for heaven’s sakes, get those emission standards to where they’re reasonable so we can keep them running.”
A self-described history buff, Dinsdale said he would hope to be a legislator like Ronald Reagan, who he appreciates for “staying the course” as president. But Dinsdale also appreciates what Abraham Lincoln dealt with serving during a turbulent time in our history. “We think we’ve got challenges now and we do, but we’ve had way bigger challenges in our history than we have now; but still, it takes leadership. It takes the right person to step up here.”
Dinsdale said he’s the right Republican for the Senate because his campaign is mostly funded by Nebraska donations. He said this allows him to put Nebraska first.
“I will be a United States Senator that will listen to Nebraskans,” Dinsdale said during the GOP Debate in Lincoln. “I’m not interested in tearing apart other candidates, tearing apart our party. I want to go up against Obama and Reid and the Democrats, and return our country to the greatness that we all know we can be if we get back to a constitutional democracy that we should have.”