Tags: Shane Osborn

What to Watch For in Nebraska and West Virginia Tomorrow


Also from today’s Morning Jolt, which you would have by now if you were a subscriber:

GOP Primary Voters Feeling Sasse-y in Nebraska

Nebraska and West Virginia hold their primaries tomorrow.

The title fight in GOP circles is the fight in Nebraska’s GOP Senate primary, with not a heck of lot of polling so far. For what it’s worth, here is the most recent poll, one from a reliable pollster but contracted by an organization with a dog in the fight:

The Magellan Strategies poll of 525 likely Republican voters was conducted May 8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. The poll was conducted one day after Bruning received endorsements from Gov. Dave Heineman and Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert. The results were posted online by the Legacy Foundation Action Fund, a group supporting Sasse.

In the Senate race, Sasse received the support of 38 percent of respondents, well ahead of banker Sid Dinsdale’s 24 percent. One-time front-runner Shane Osborn, a former Nebraska state treasurer, had 20 percent. Attorney Bart McLeay brought up the rear with 6 percent.

The undercard fight is the battle for the GOP nomination for governor; the crowded field includes state attorney general Jon C. Bruning, state senator Tom Carlson, Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Foley, state senator Beau McCoy, former Ameritrade COO J. Peter “Pete” Ricketts, and lawyer Bryan Slone.

From that May 8 poll:

In the governor’s race, Ricketts received the support of 25 percent of survey respondents, while Bruning received 24 percent — well within the margin of error. State Auditor Mike Foley, meanwhile, trailed with 18 percent and State Sen. Beau McCoy won the backing of 16 percent. Bryan Slone and Tom Carlson rounded out the pack, with both earning 5 percent.

West Virginia’s Senate primaries won’t be as exciting:

The outcome in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, (D., W.Va.) — a showdown between Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Democrat Secretary of State Natalie Tennant — is all but certain. And on the state level, among the six Northern Panhandle delegate districts, only two —the 3rd and 4th — feature contested primaries.

In fact, there’s some argument that the general election won’t be all that exciting, either. Stu Rothenberg of Roll Call concludes, “I don’t currently see a path for West Virginia Democrat Natalie Tennant.”

Tags: Nebraska , Ben Sasse , Sid Dinsdale , Shane Osborn , West Virginiia

Sharp Elbows as Nebraska Republicans Approach Primary Day


Nebraska holds its Senate primary a week from Tuesday. Ben Sasse — National Review cover boy — holds the lead, but it’s possible that this will be the closest and most dramatic GOP Senate-primary finish of 2014.

One poll, out May 1 and conducted by NSON Opinion Strategy for the Tea Party Express, showed Sasse taking 29 percent support among likely GOP primary voters and Shane Osborn taking 27 percent. Sid Dinsdale, the former president of the second-largest bank in Nebraska, comes in third with 13 percent support. Another poll, commissioned by the Sasse campaign, showed Sasse at 31 percent, Osborn at 25 percent, and Dinsdale at 22 percent. Polls in February and earlier put Osborn narrowly ahead and Dinsdale a distant third.

If the Sasse internal is correct, and Osborn is sliding while Dinsdale is rising, it probably reflects a common consequence of negative ads. When Candidate A attacks Candidate B, oftentimes the real beneficiary is Candidate C; this is how John Kerry surprised everyone in Iowa in 2004 after Dick Gephardt threw a ton of negative ads at Howard Dean. A negative ad is probably more likely to do self-inflicted damage when it features the candidate himself making the attack, speaking directly into the camera. (There’s a reason most negative ads feature anonymous gravelly-voiced narrators.)

Backers of Sasse are not warmly welcoming Dinsdale to the race’s upper tier. Erick Erickson of Red State called Dinsdale “Planned Parenthood’s Republican,” first contending that Dinsdale’s daughter served on the board of the group; he later corrected his report, clarifying that Dinsdale’s wife has contributed to groups that fund pro-abortion groups (Komen and Girls, Inc.) but is not on the board of Planned Parenthood. Dinsdale’s sister is on the board of Planned Parenthood.

It is unclear if the actions of the Dinsdale’s relatives will carry serious consequences among pro-life voters; Nebraska Right to Life endorsed all four Republican candidates running, including Dinsdale.

Other aspects of Dinsdale’s record are tougher to classify. As the Omaha World-Herald noted in a profile,

The longtime banker opposes the controversial 2010 financial regulations known as Dodd-Frank. But his Pinnacle Bancorp worked with Congress to modify the bill at a time when other banks were trying simply to kill it or to weaken it considerably.

As Jeffrey Anderson of the Weekly Standard noted, Pinnacle Bancorp PAC donated to Democratic senator Ben Nelson after he voted for Obamacare — while Dinsdale was president of the bank.

That World-Herald profile also noted:

While Dinsdale’s wealth gives him the ability to pour millions of dollars into his race for U.S. Senate, he hasn’t done it yet. With a little over four weeks left in the campaign, Dinsdale has been outspent on the airwaves — but he’s reluctant to pull out his checkbook.

“Doesn’t feel right. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be,” he says. “I think you have to talk to Nebraskans and get their support.”

That profile piece was dated April 9. As reported,

The Republican candidate loaned [his Senatorial campaign] $75,000 in late March, and another $925,000 on April 1, according to his pre-primary election report to the Federal Election Commission.

Apparently it “feels right” after all.

Another new wrinkle is a slew of campaign spending — $103,526, to be exact — going after Sasse from Freedom Pioneers Action Network. This is, so far, the only expenditure of this cycle by this group, which was formed in 2012 to help out then–Senate candidate Rick Berg. The PAC’s treasurer is Justin Brasell of Jackson, Miss., a veteran GOP consultant whose past posts include campaign manager at Friends of John Thune and campaign manager at McConnell for Senate back in 2008.

These days Justin Brasell is . . . managing the Senate campaign of Republican Tom Cotton in Arkansas.

The filing detailing the anti-Sasse spending is dated April 30, 2014.

So a campaign manager of one conservative favorite of this cycle, Tom Cotton, is working for a PAC that is attacking one of conservatives’ other favorites of this cycle, Sasse.

The $103K in spending from Freedom Pioneers Action Network is classified as “against Sasse” in official records; there’s some indication the group will spend money on pro-Osborn messages as well. The group’s YouTube account currently has only one video on it; a pro-Osborn ad that can be found here.

Tags: Ben Sasse , Shane Osborn , Sid Dinsdale

New Poll: Sasse Leads Tough Three-Way Fight in Nebraska


Out in Nebraska, Ben Sasse’s campaign for U.S. Senate commissioned another poll. The numbers:

Ben Sasse: 31 percent.

Shane Osborn: 25 percent.

Sid Dinsdale: 22 percent.

Bart McLeay: 5 percent.

Clifton Johnson: 3 percent.

Undecided: 14 percent.

They’re all pretty close together in terms of favorability — 57.8 percent for Sasse, 55.9 percent for Osborn, and 54.1 percent for Dinsdale — but there’s a more significant difference in the unfavorable numbers: 18.4 percent for Sasse, 25.8 percent for Osborn, 12 percent for Dinsdale. The Sasse campaign contends the high unfavorable number for Obsborn stems from recent negative television ads. The sample size is 507 respondents; the poll was conducted from Saturday through Monday. The only other poll, from February, also showed a small Sasse lead, but Dinsdale appears to be gaining ground.

Two weeks to go until the primary; the GOP primary winner will be a heavy favorite in the November general election.

Tags: Ben Sasse , Shane Osborn , Sid Dinsdale , Nebraska

NR’s Sasse Cover, Now Playing on Nebraska Television Screens


You’ve probably seen John J. Miller’s NR cover story on Ben Sasse, the conservative Republican running for the open Senate seat in Nebraska. The Sasse campaign is making sure Nebraskans see it on their television screens:

Another fanciful ad imagined moving the capital of the United States to Nebraska, “so Congress can experience family, conservative values, and living within in a budget”:

The current front-runner in the Senate campaign, former state treasurer Shane Osborn, has a PAC that is running its own “six-figure” ad campaign, featuring this biographical ad, which focus upon Osborn’s military service, particularly his piloting a crippled Navy surveillance aircraft and its 23-member crew to a safe landing on a Chinese island in 2001 and then spending twelve days in captivity.

Jordan Gehrke, a senior adviser to the Sasse campaign, said the campaign is spending $200,000 on an early television-ad buy, both broadcast and cable, which can go pretty far in Nebraska’s relatively inexpensive markets. Gehrke said the campaign is also pleased that a five-minute YouTube video has gotten 34,000 views inside the state of Nebraska.

There are currently five Republicans running for governor in Nebraska and five Republicans running for the U.S. Senate. With nominal Democratic opposition, the Republican primary winners are expected to triumph in November. Some of those statewide candidates have indicated a willingness to self-fund, or at least make significant loans to their campaigns, meaning the airwaves will be crowded as the May primary approaches.

“There’s going to be so much clutter at the very end, it’s going to be very hard to break through,” Gehrke said, explaining the early ad buy. The ad campaign will go on for two and a half weeks.

Osborn is significantly ahead of the pack, at least according to internal polls his campaign has released, from back in October:

An internal survey from former Nebraska state Treasurer Shane Osborn shows him leading the Republican primary for the state’s open Senate seat.

The survey, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for Osborn’s campaign, gives him 39 percent of the vote, while the other three candidates take single-digit support.

Midland University President Ben Sasse, a Tea Party favorite who last week received the endorsement of the Senate Conservatives Fund, ties banker Sid Dinsdale with 7 percent support. Attorney Bart McLeay takes 1 percent support.

Tags: Ben Sasse , Shane Osborn

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