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HomeNewsPoliticsBen Sasse Victorious In Nebraska Senate Primary, Ricketts Edges Bruning

Ben Sasse Victorious In Nebraska Senate Primary, Ricketts Edges Bruning

Nebraska Senate Ben Sasse
Nebraska Senate Ben Sasse

Nebraska Senate nominee Ben Sasse won roughly half of the vote in a five-way race.

The Nebraska Senate primary results are in and Ben Sasse will be the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, taking nearly 50 percent of the vote in what was a five-way race. The last-minute surge from Sid Dinsdale, as we predicted, wasn’t enough to overcome the support Sasse had from both conservative and mainstream Republican voters. Republican candidates were vying for the chance to replace retiring GOP Sen. Mike Johanns.

“Congratulations to Ben Sasse on his victory tonight in Nebraska. Ben is a problem solver who will be a conservative voice in our effort to repeal ObamaCare and bring much needed fiscal sanity to the Senate,” Chairman Jerry Moran (R-KS) said in a statement to People’s Pundit Daily.

“Ben Sasse is a results-oriented leader whom I know will fight for Nebraska and be a great advocate for the Cornhusker State in the Senate. I look forward to working alongside of Ben in the Senate next year in a Republican majority.”

For most of the race, Sasse and former Republican State Treasurer Shane Osborn, the latter of the two once the front-runner in the eyes of many, had all but ignored Sid Dindale as they clobbered each other. Ben Sasse enjoyed the backing of several prominent conservative groups, including the Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund, the Madison Project and FreedomWorks. FreedomWorks initially endorsed Shane Osborne, but retracted their endorsement back on March 30 and opted instead to back Sasse.

“Both Osborn and Sasse are great people, and this was not a decision taken lightly,” FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe wrote in an email to PPD back in April.

“The question at the heart of this decision is, who would caucus with the Freedom Caucus, and who would fall in line with the establishment? At this point, it is clear that Shane Osborn formed allegiances with Mitch McConnell and the K Street lobbying class.”

In the end, we believe that it was the support from these groups that put Sasse over the top. The Madison Group responded to the late challenge with a 60-second radio ad condemning Dinsdale as a “counterfeit conservative.” The Club for Growth coughed up six-figures for a television ad campaign targeting Dinsdale, and in total The Club’s Super-PAC, Club for Growth Action, spent nearly $500,000 in support of Sasse’s candidacy.

“Congratulations to Ben Sasse, who won a hard-fought primary by building his campaign on the simple idea that ObamaCare is a disaster that needs to be repealed,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a statement via email to PPD.

“Ben clearly articulated a conservative vision to Nebraska voters who rewarded him with their votes. Club members strongly responded to our appeal for support for Sasse and we’re confident that he’ll be a champion of economic freedom when he is elected to the Senate in November.”

It worked, and it’s a testament to the problem conservatives have when it comes to getting behind a single insurgent candidate and a coherent unified message. Anti-establishment candidates have not performed well this election cycle, despite the anti-incumbent and anti-establishment sentiment. Yet in the Nebraska Senate race they really pulled it together. This allowed Sasse to effectively get his message across to the voters.

Meanwhile, Pete Ricketts and Jon Bruning were locked in a tight race from the time the polls closed. Ricketts had held a small lead as the early precinct reported, but the two have been neck-and-neck since 20 to 25 percent of the precincts were counted. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Ricketts held a 57,921 vote to 55,751 vote lead over Bruning, or 26.5 percent to 25.6 percent.

With both Sasse and Ricketts victorious, the real winner just may be Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the conservative hero who had endorsed the two in the race. Media had portrayed the race beforehand as a test for the headline-making senator. Sarah Palin also endorsed the two same candidates in the race.

Sasse will go on to the general election, which all but ensures he will be the next senator from the state of Nebraska. Sasse will face Dave Domina, the Democrats’ nominee, but the Nebraska Senate race is rated “Safe Republican” on PPD’s 2014 Senate Map Predictions.

Written by

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

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