Nebraska Senate Race Turns Negative Ahead of Primary

Thursday, 08 May 2014 09:42 PM

By Jason Devaney

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The race for who will represent the Republican party in the Nebraska Senate election this fall is getting nasty, and now the state's largest newspaper is stepping in to squash the negativity.

In response to several attack ads that have plagued the race ahead of its May 13 primary, the Omaha World-Herald published an editorial Wednesday that pleaded for a truce in that race and also the governor's race, which has carried a similar tone.

"In a connected world, like-minded people interested in politics might prefer certain candidates over others, even in places where they do not live, work or vote," the editorial reads. "But anonymous attack ads in Nebraska’s governor’s race and an erroneous national blog post in the U.S. Senate race show the dangers of inviting too much outside influence into state politics."

The Senate race is close among three candidates — Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale, former Nebraska state treasurer Shane Osborn, and local college president Ben Sasse. Dinsdale had been trailing before a recent surge, which was spurred by his fellow candidates attacking each other.

Dinsdale, however, is now the target of several attacks from his opponents and outside sources as the candidates try to secure voters' support in the final days of campaigning.

Sasse, according to The Wall Street Journal, has the support of many powerful groups and politicians in Washington — the Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund, and Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Tom Coburn. Osborn entered the race with the most support at the local level.

Club for Growth, for example, launched a 30-second ad attacking Dinsdale by saying he has donated money to Democrats and agrees with part of the Affordable Care Act. "That's really liberal. That's the real Sid Dinsdale," the ad says.

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The 60 Plus Association, a super PAC, called out Dinsdale's comment that he would raise the debt limit in another ad. "A vote to always raise the debt limit is a vote to always fund Obamacare," the ad says.

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"What better negotiating partner could Harry Reid hope for than a Senator who never says no? … If Nebraska never says no to new debt, Nebraska should say no to Dinsdale."

In another example, Red State blogger Erick Erickson wrote a short post this week
carrying the headline, "Sid Dinsdale Would Give Barack Obama a Blank Check."

Dinsdale responded to the onslaught with an ad this week that takes aim at the attacks, but not the attackers.

"Desperate Washington special interests are spending dark money falsely attacking Sid Dinsdale and his family, telling you who to vote for," the ad says. "Nebraskans are self-reliant people who don't need to be told what to do from special interests."

The Wall Street Journal reports that Dinsdale has spent about $225,000 on ads this week ahead of next Tuesday's primary.

In the Nebraska race for governor, meanwhile, attorney general and two-time U.S. Senate candidate Jon Bruning has been the target of several attacks by outside groups that are funded by secret donors. Two groups — the American Future Fund and Citizens for a Sound Government — had spent over $1 million by mid-April.

Bruning suspects his fellow GOP candidate Pete Ricketts, the former COO of TD Ameritrade, is the money man behind the ad campaigns. Bruning responded to the negative ads by saying, "I'm not afraid of that. I trust Nebraskans, I think they'll make the right decision. I'm just not worried about it."

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Elsewhere, the Nebraska Tourism Commission this week changed its slogan  to "Visit Nebraska. Visit Nice."

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