LINCOLN — State Auditor Charlie Janssen overcame bad publicity about his short working hours and long lunches that included beer drinking to win re-election to the $85,000-a-year post.
In September, the World-Herald revealed that Janssen, a 47-year-old Republican, regularly took up to three-hour lunches at a Lincoln tavern, spending more time there on those days than at his State Capitol office.
But despite condemnation over such work habits, Janssen breezed to victory over his Democratic challenger, Omaha library assistant Jane Skinner, on Tuesday.
“Nebraskans recognized that the office is actually being run well and he’s actually doing a good job for them,” said Rod Edwards, a campaign adviser for Janssen’s re-election bid.
The victory by Janssen means that the GOP retains its hold on all state constitutional offices in the state, which include governor, lieutenant governor, state treasurer, attorney general and secretary of state.
Janssen, as a former Fremont City Council member and as a six-year member of the Nebraska Legislature, had a considerable name-recognition edge over Skinner. He also contributed $15,000 to his campaign for a late series of radio ads. He apologized to voters and asked for a second chance to prove he could be a better state auditor.
“He was really concentrating on working in his office and getting the job done,” Edwards said. “I think they appreciated that he took ownership and was accountable.”
Skinner said she did better than she expected.
“He had the name recognition, he had the money, he had the ‘R’ (Republican) next to his name and he had the job,” she said.
Janssen had called The World-Herald’s reporting about his lunches accurate.
In its report, the newspaper tracked the whereabouts of the pickup and found that it was frequently parked outside of Brewsky’s, a sports bar just south of the Capitol. Reporters who entered the tavern saw Janssen sipping beer and glancing at his cellphone during workday lunches that extended three hours or more.