Supporters' bid for Osborne write-in campaign rejected

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The Nebraska Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by supporters of U.S. Rep. Tom Osborne to mount a write-in campaign aimed at getting the former Nebraska coach elected governor.

Osborne dropped out of the race after losing the Republican primary to Gov. Dave Heineman.

Nebraska law prohibits a candidate who lost in a primary from launching a write-in campaign, and the state's high court rejected his supporters' request without comment late last week, the clerk's office announced Tuesday.

The supporters were led by Johnny Rodgers, who won the 1972 Heisman Trophy at Nebraska the year before Osborne was elevated to the head coaching job, and Doak Ostergard, associate head trainer for the football team.

Ostergard did not return a message seeking comment. Rodgers' telephone number is unlisted.

The supporters acted without the blessing of Osborne, R-Neb., who said he wasn't interested in a write-in campaign.

"You don't change the rules in the middle of the game," Osborne said. "I ran under a set of rules that were clearly laid out."

The supporters' complaint cited a 1968 decision by the Alaska Supreme Court, which said a similar rule for U.S. Senate candidates was unconstitutional. But the Nebraska court was unswayed.

Osborne did not seek a fourth term representing the 3rd Congressional District, where his bids for federal office never received less than 82 percent of the vote.

He lost the May GOP primary with 44 percent of the vote, to Heineman's 50 percent. The rest of the vote went to a third candidate.