There could be an upset in tomorrow’s Republican senate primary in Nebraska, where the winner will challenge former Senator Bob Kerrey for the seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Ben Nelson. Whether the (still?) frontrunner, Attorney General Jon Bruning, can hold out against state Treasurer Don Stenberg and State Sen. Deb Fischer – who is making a spectacular dash in the final stretch – is now in doubt.
What’s happened to a race that many had once considered settled for Brunung? Club for Growth Action, which backs Stenberg, ran a tv ad campaign that pounded the AG as a tax-raiser who once “supported a national government-run health plan,” while Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund bankrolled a separate campaign backing Stenberg. Combined both efforts dumped nearly $3 million into the race.
The Bruning beatdown seems to have benefited conservative mom/rancher Fischer, who’s run a positive campaign. She’s also benefited from two big endorsements, one from Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry and another from Sarah Palin. And then Joe Ricketts, the conservative businessman and Nebraska native who founded Ameritrade and launched the earmark-hating EndingSpending.com, dropped $200,000 for a last-minute ad blitz, one another powerful blast at Bruning, and the other supporting Fischer:
In its final hours, the Omaha World-Herald reports the race is “Down to the wire,” while a Nebraska political blog, Leavenworth Street, has a lead item with the headline “Holy crap! Fischer LEADS Bruning by 5 pts in new poll.” The poll is automated, but sure as heck shows a big trending.