Attack Ads Fueling Shake-Up in Nebraska GOP Senate Primary

Monday, 12 May 2014 02:04 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale has picked up "significant momentum" in the GOP Senate primary in Nebraska, Politico reports.

Dinsdale, president of Pinnacle Bank, has been in third place against Midland University President Ben Sasse and former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, in the battle for retiring Sen. Mike Johanns' seat.

But Dinsdale's poll numbers are rising.

In a new poll released by Sasse’s campaign, Sasse is leading with 34 percent, followed by Dinsdale with 23 percent and Osborn with 20 percent. Osborn was once the front-runner.

Politico says that in the final days of the campaign leading up to Tuesday's vote, Dinsdale "has suddenly become the new target of attacks from Sasse-supporting outside groups."

Nebraska is used to political upsets. In 2012, now-Sen. Deb Fischer came from last place to beat two candidates who were better funded, but had relentlessly slammed each other in ads and speeches.

Some observers believe the negative ads blasting Dinsdale may actually be helping him.

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Johanns said, "People are sick of outside groups, they’re sick of the negative ads, they’re sick of the attacks, they’re just sick of the whole thing.''

Dinsdale's spiking numbers come despite the impressive roster of endorsements his competition has racked up.

Sasse has the approval of former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Osborn, a tea party favorite, is backed by the Nebraska Republican Liberty Caucus and the Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom.

Among the attacks in recent days is one from Club for Growth, which released a 30-second ad accusing Dinsdale of donating money to Democrats and partially siding with the Affordable Care Act.

"That's really liberal. That's the real Sid Dinsdale," the ad crows.

The 60 Plus Association, a super PAC, ripped Dinsdale's statement that he would raise the debt limit — which it said is tantamount to funding the Affordable Care Act.

The attacks prompted the Omaha World-Herald to write a scathing editorial advising voters to ignore the negativity.

"Outside attacks might have some impact, but they’re not the Nebraska way. They should be repudiated by all the candidates in these races," the newspaper said.

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