Occupation: Omaha City Council member
Party affiliation: Republican
» Stothert has experience with trauma and chaos. Before she became a politician, Stothert was a nurse in a critical care unit, and that’s where she met her husband, Dr. Joe Stothert. She eventually rose to run the department and manage about 40 nurses at St. Louis University.
» She doesn’t lose easily. In 2006 she came within 14 votes of winning a seat in the Nebraska Legislature. It took more than a month for Stothert to concede to Steve Lathrop. During that time, Stothert waited for a recount, then considered a legal challenge based on questions concerning several provisional ballots. She eventually decided against the court fight.
» Stothert’s foray into city politics has cost her family at least $58,000. When Stothert decided to run for City Council in 2009, she did not realize that a city law prohibited officials from having a financial interest in any city contract. At the time, her husband was being paid $58,000 as a part-time medical director for the Fire Department. When Stothert won, he resigned.
» Some of Stothert’s strongest past political friends are some of her staunchest foes now. Stothert initially ran for City Council with the support of the city’s firefighter and police unions. Their support quickly dried up when Stothert began to push for deep cuts in police and firefighter contracts. In fact, firefighters union chief Steve LeClair once accused Stothert of spreading false rumors that he had threatened her life. Stothert said she was simply reporting remarks that a third party had told her LeClair made. An internal investigation cleared LeClair of making any threats, LeClair has said.
Party affiliation: independent
» Ashford has been all over the map politically during three decades in public life. He originally entered politics as a Democrat, when he won a seat in the Nebraska Legislature in 1986. He then became a Republican in 1988. In 2011, he became an independent.
» Ashford is a political flirt. Over the years, he has contemplated running for Congress, running for mayor and running for the Omaha City Council. He did run for Congress in 1994, losing the GOP primary to Jon Christensen. But although he has talked about it for years, this is his first run for mayor.
» He bears a striking resemblance to talk-show host and former Cincinnati mayor Jerry Springer. During the height of Springer’s fame, people sometimes chanted "Jer-ry, Jer-ry" when Ashford walked through the airport. In a 2000 interview, Ashford said he had given up correcting people. "I just turn and wave," he said. "It’s gotten to the point that if I tell them I’m not Jerry Springer, I feel like I disappoint them."
» Ashford was unafraid to butt heads with the governor and is viewed as a leading advocate on Omaha issues. In the Legislature, he led the override of Gov. Dave Heineman’s veto of a bill to allow voters to approve a half-cent city sales tax increase, and he was a key player in the veto override to provide Medicaid benefits to the children of illegal immigrants. In both cases, he faced Heineman’s full-throated opposition and was on the winning side.
» Ashford is famous in political circles for — well — talking in circles. He can appear to change his opinion in the course of a 10-minute conversation. A 1983 World-Herald story illustrates the difficulty of pinning down Ashford. The reporter noted that Ashford began the conversation by emphatically saying he would not run for Congress. "I’m seriously not going to do it," he said. However, by the end of the interview, Ashford hedged his bet, saying he would not "rule it out 100 percent." (He ran.) Ashford says he doesn’t change his mind as much as he thinks "out loud" in public. "I think I take a circuitous route, but I don’t change my vision. But I do know — people do get a kick out of how I operate," he said.
Occupation: owner of Nabity Business Advisors
Party affiliation: Republican
» Dave Nabity was the first Republican to run for governor in the 2006 race. Nabity said he would likely shut down his campaign if legendary Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne entered. "Anyone in this state who would try to run against him would have to have their head examined," he said in 2003. Well, Osborne did run. And Nabity stayed in the race. He and Osborne both lost to Dave Heineman. Nabity finished third, with about 5 percent of the vote.
» Nabity is a jazz guy. He has played drums in several jazz bands and likes "smooth jazz," which he describes as saxophone-based. The name of his current band is Higher Pursuits. During his 2006 race, Nabity dreamed aloud about playing at his inaugural ball. "I’m going to do Earth, Wind and Fire and Chicago. It will be a heck of a show," he said.
» Nabity first garnered attention at City Hall in 2009, when he began to stir the political waters as the spokesman of a local business group critical of how the city negotiated with its police and firefighter unions. He once showed up at a meeting and dramatically placed several cities’ firefighter contracts on a table, noting that Omaha’s firefighter contract was several inches bigger. (It was later determined that Nabity was comparing apples to oranges, because the other contracts did not include all of the language of each city’s health insurance policy.)
» Nabity has the reputation of creating strife. In 2010, he was instrumental in helping launch the recall effort against Mayor Jim Suttle. Initially much of Nabity’s work was behind the scenes. However, his role became widely known when a civil war broke out within the recall movement after another member of the group accused Nabity of trying to take control to further his own mayoral ambitions. Nabity denied it, saying disputes happen when a person "shows leadership."
Party affiliation: Republican
» He is, at age 43, the youngest candidate.
» Welch entered politics riding an anti-incumbency wave onto the Omaha City Council in 2001. At the time, then-Mayor Hal Daub and members of the City Council frequently quarreled. Voters were tired of it and swept Welch and four other new members into office. Welch’s victory came despite the fact he was heavily outspent by then-Councilman Cliff Herd. Welch spent about $61,000 on the race while Herd spent about $220,000.
» Welch bucked tradition on the council by running and winning two terms as City Council president. Before that, the council presidency was rotated every two years. His fellow council members, however, decided to keep Welch at the helm for another two-year stint in 2007.
» One of Welch’s biggest moments on the council came in 2003, when he published a guest column in The World-Herald, sounding the alarm about the growing costs and long-term ramifications of the police and firefighter contracts. It set the tone for much of Welch’s time on the council, where he frequently argued with then-Mayor Mike Fahey over reducing both contracts. He also tried several times to roll back the controversial requirement that each city firetruck be manned by four people.
» Welch was one of the main opponents in 2004 of naming a park in north Omaha after State Sen. Ernie Chambers. During the debate, Welch read quotes from Chambers that included controversial comments the lawmaker had made about Catholic priests abusing children and sexually charged remarks about a female prosecutor. Welch, who is known for his civility, said the city should not honor a man who made his name by uttering "divisive remarks."
Occupation: Omaha mayor
Party affiliation: Democratic
» Suttle is an engineer, using his "left brain" even when at a cocktail party. In 2009, during his successful bid for mayor, Suttle explained to a reporter how he works a room. He mentally sections off the room in quadrants and then chats with a person in each section. "I kind of have a system. I start in one area of the room and work my way around. ... It usually works — if people don’t move around," Suttle said while shaking hands at a west Omaha fundraiser.
» Suttle has a thing for cars. Or, to be more specific, a thing for a certain red 2002 Thunderbird convertible. He loves to drive around in it and be recognized. Of course, not all of Suttle’s experiences with automobiles have been so positive. Shortly after winning office he came under fire for entering into an expensive lease for a new 2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid SUV. He later was able to lower the lease price, with the car dealership’s help. The Durango also was red.
» Suttle’s wife, Deb Suttle, is a nurse. She also is a former politician, who served in the Nebraska Legislature 1997-2002. It was Suttle’s wife who originally told her husband to go to the hospital when he was suddenly feeling "light-headed" while on a trip to Ireland. He said she went into "nurse mode." It was later determined Suttle had suffered a mild stroke. Since then, the mayor says he has improved his diet, his exercise habits and has cut down his 90-hour workweeks.
» Suttle and former Mayor Mike Fahey may come from the same party, but the two Democrats have never been that friendly. It started when Suttle served on the City Council. The two often rubbed each other the wrong way and frequently sparred. However, in 2009, Fahey surprised many by endorsing Suttle in his successful bid against Republican Hal Daub. At the time, many speculated that Fahey made the calculated decision that Suttle was preferable to Daub. This year, there is no Daub. And Fahey has thrown his support behind Ashford.
» A Democrat, Suttle owes his political survival to voters in Republican-rich west Omaha. They may not have voted for him in 2009, but voters in areas such as the Westside school district overwhelmingly rejected an effort to recall Suttle in 2011. Suttle acknowledged their support on the night of the recall vote. He promised to reach out to those voters, and others, and to listen to their concerns.
— Compiled by World-Herald staff writer Robynn Tysver