Nothing says fun …

SasseCruzGunApril25… like a toddler with a gun. Thanks to Sen. Ted Cruz for Tweeting this photo from Friday’s rally for Ben Sasse at Buffalo Bill Cody’s ranch in North Platte. The event, which also featured Utah Sen. Mike Lee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (with husband Todd), drew a crowd estimated at a thousand.

Apologies to U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer for incorrectly adding her to the lineup for Sasse’s North Platte rally. She was pictured with Palin in early graphics announcing the event, and we made an incorrect assumption. Sen. Fischer has not endorsed a candidate in the Nebraska Senate race, and is not campaigning with Sasse.




Shane Osborn’s Republican campaign for Senate has announced endorsements from DeeDee Kelly and four other Nebraskans prominent in the conservative cause. They are:

    • Laura Ebke, president of Nebraska Liberty Caucus
    • Doug Kagan, president of Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom
    • Mike Groene, chairman of Western Nebraska Taxpayers Association
    • Sheila Heieck, president of Omaha Liberty Ladies


Tom Brewer, the retired Army colonel who is opposing 3rd District U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith in the May primary, is hosting an event from 7-9 p.m. Thursday at Ole’s Big Game Lounge in Paxton.


Condolences to the family of Robert Keith Gray, a pioneering public relations and lobbying icon in Washington, D.C., who was born in Hastings, Neb. Hall started his Washington career in the Eisenhower administration, then became an operative for Hill & Knowlton. He opened Gray & Co. in 1981, and it became the first publicly traded public relations firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Gray, along with Joyce Hall and the brothers who founded Hallmark, were beacons of hope to decades of Nebraska J-School students. Although neither attended the University of Nebraska — Gray had an MBA from Harvard — they were living tributes to the idea that hard work and diligence could take a Nebraskan anywhere. Gray was 92.

Let the show begin

Buffalo Bill
It’ll be a full clown-car that rolls into North Platte on Friday morning, now that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has endorsed Republican Senate candidate Ben Sasse, and has signed on to the campaign event at Scout’s Rest. had expected the Cruz endorsement Wednesday, but saw instead the Cruz endorsement of Pete Ricketts for governor. The Ricketts’ folks had a full day to bask in the glory of their catch, before the Sasse campaign received the honor.

In addition to Cruz and Sarah Palin, Ricketts has been endorsed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. We don’t know what Ricketts has planned for Nebraska if he’s elected, but we’re beginning to fear meaningless self-promoting stunts (Cruz), gaffe-prone rhetoric (Palin) and the steamrolling of worker’s rights (Walker).

In any event, it’s worth noting that Scout’s Rest was the home of Buffalo Bill Cody, who is remembered not so much for fighting Indians as he is for the wild West show.


NBC News is suggesting that Tea Party organizations are pouring so much money into the Republican Senate race here because their candidates are losing in North Carolina and Kentucky.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appears headed to re-election in Kentucky over Tea Party pick Matt Bevin. Likewise, the establishment Republican candidate in North Carolina, Thom Tillis, has the lead, although there could be a runoff in that crowded field.

A Sasse victory in Nebraska would avoid a Tea Party catastrophe in the early primaries. Nebraska’s primary is May 13. The North Carolina primary is May 6. Kentucky, Georgia and Oregon hold their primary on May 20. Establishment candidates hold the lead in Georgia, and the likely victor in Oregon supports abortion rights.

Chuck Todd, NBC News’ political director, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann wrote in the First Read section:

 We maintain that the Tea Party still remains a powerful force in Republican politics — remember that 41 percent of the GOP voters voted against John Cornyn in March’s Texas primary. And there are many competitive primaries to watch in the months ahead … But right now, the establishment has been fighting back and it appears to have the early edge in many of May’s contests.”


Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Pete Ricketts has scored the endorsement of the U.S. Senate’s leading rabble-rouser and blowhard, Ted Cruz.

Congratulations, Pete!


Wednesday night’s debate among the six Republican candidates for governor will be live streamed by the Norfolk Daily News. Doors open at the Johnny Carson Theater at Norfolk High School at 6:15 p.m., and a reception will be held in the cafeteria before the 7 p.m. start of the 90-minute debate. It is being sponsored by the Nebraska Republican Party, Norfolk High School and the Norfolk Daily News. Editor Kent Warneke reports that 600 tickets have been distributed, but plenty of good seats remain in the 1,234-seat theater.


KRVN radio in Lexington reports that the Nebraska Farmers Union has endorsed Democratic Senate candidate Dave Domina, an Omaha-based attorney.

DaveDominaPortrait“We know that Nebraska agriculture will be well served by sending David Domina to the Senate,” said a statement from Gale Lush of Wilcox, president of the group’s political action committee, NEBFARMPAC. “His expertise in water and private property rights will serve our state well in the United States Senate.”

Nebraska Farmers Union is the state’s second largest general farm and ranch association, with 6,000 members. It supports ethanol, wind energy, and country-of-origin labeling, and opposes vertical integration in the farm economy.


Monday, Monday


Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer will be campaigning with Sarah Palin for Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst in West Des Moines on Sunday.

ShePAC is sponsoring the “Heels on, Gloves Off” rally for Ernst, an

Sen. Deb Fischer

Sen. Deb Fischer

Iowa state senator running for the U.S. Senate. Also scheduled to appear are Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and former Nebraska Gov. Kay Orr.

Palin endorsed Fischer in 2012, and both have endorsed Ernst.

Fischer is building an unusually high national profile for a Nebraskan in the Senate. A former rancher, Fischer shares an interest in livestock with Ernst, who made a squeal with a commercial saying that she grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm and knows how to cut the pork in Washington. (One of Fischer’s 2012 ads featured two bulls named Bruning and Stenberg.)

By the way, both Palin and Fischer are scheduled to attend a campaign event Friday in North Platte for Senate candidate Ben Sasse that will also feature Utah Sen. Mike Lee and former Nebraska Gov. Kay Orr.

The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Buffalo Bill Cody ranch, aka Scout’s Rest. We don’t know exactly what’s planned, but we’re expecting a lot of rootin’-tootin’, yippie-ki-ay one-liners from the unsuccessful 2008 vice presidential candidate. RSVP here.


Rumor has it that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz might be making an endorsement and/or appearance in Nebraska in support of Sasse. If true, it would mean the full clown car has arrived, as Chris Matthews would say.


Sid Dinsdale, the one candidate seen as having a chance to pull a Deb Fischer and defeat both Sasse and Shane Osborn in the primary, is holding a “Taking Nebraska Values to Washington, D.C.” conversation Thursday in Lincoln. It will be at 7 p.m. at the Nebraska GOP headquarters, 1610 N St. RSVP to

Of course, for Dinsdale to beat the two bickering frontrunners, it will take

Sid Dinsdale

Sid Dinsdale

the deep pockets of some donor — Fischer’s victory came after a money dump from Joe Ricketts’ Ending Spending PAC. But who could it be? After months of holding out from making a contribution to his own campaign, banker Dinsdale has apparently opened his wallet. He has a new ad, “In Your Face,” about government regulatory overreach. There’s a link to it at the end.


Speaking of money dumps, Shane Osborn has issued a plea for donations to fight the negative ads that outside supporters of Ben Sasse continue to heap on him.

Last week it was one of those storm-clouds over Washington scare ads

Shane Osborn

Shane Osborn

financed by Sasse’s great-uncle, retired Fremont business executive Rupert Dunklau. This week, it is Club for Growth that has scheduled six-figures worth of attack ads.

The Club for Growth ad buy will push the amount of money spent by outside groups supporting Ben Sasse past the $1 million mark. (Those are commercials, fliers, online ads and whatnot created and paid for by outside groups, supposedly without coordinating with the candidate or his campaign.) Osborn’s outside support has stalled at about $165,000.


Finally, 2nd District U.S. Rep. Lee Terry is holding an evening of cigars, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres May 2 at Safari Cigars in Omaha. Cost is $1,000 for PAC sponsors, $500 for individual sponsors. Individual tickets are $150, couples are $250. RSVP to See the Dinsdale ad there.

Osborn, Sasse. No difference?

Time magazine has picked up on the battle being waged among Nebraska conservatives because of Freedom Works’ decision late last month to switch its Senate-race endorsement from Shane Osborn to Ben Sasse.

Last week, a group of about 50 libertarians, Tea Party supporters and other conservatives signed a letter blasting Freedom Works for pulling its endorsement of Osborn. A few days later, a group of about 100 different conservatives fired back in support of Sasse.

The question no one is asking, though, is: How much is a Freedom Works endorsement worth, anyway? To Freedom Works, the Nebraska Senate race is apparently worth only $38.72, which was the group’s entire contribution to Osborn in 2014.

Below is a screen-shot from the group’s 91-page March financial disclosure form. It shows that Freedom Works gave Osborn $38.72 worth of social media, email support or printing on Feb. 28, bringing its 2014 spending on the Osborn campaign to the same grand total of $38.72.

Freedom Works is spending money this primary season, but mostly in Kentucky and North Carolina, where it’s lending its muscle to the effort to dislodge Mitch McConnell and Kay Hagen from the Senate.

It looks like Freedom Works honcho Matt Kibbe and talk show host Glenn Beck weren’t just kidding when they joked during the CPAC convention that it didn’t really matter to them who wins Nebraska’s senate primary, Osborn or Sasse.


A happy belated birthday to Melissa Sasse, the better half of Republican Senate candidate Ben Sasse. She turned 45 on Monday.



McCain, Graham back Osborn

Republican Senate candidate Shane Osborn has picked up the financial backing of the Senate’s two military veterans, Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Breitbart reports that both are making donations to the Osborn campaign. The two became supporters of the former Navy pilot in February, when Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer invited Osborn to a closed-door luncheon in Washington. Breitbart also reports that neither has any plans to make campaign appearances in Nebraska on Osborn’s behalf.

Graham, 58, joined the Air Force after graduating from law school in the early 1980s, and served as a judge advocate in Europe. He returned to his native South Carolina after discharge, and served in the Air Force Reserves there. President George W. Bush promoted him to the rank of colonel during a White House ceremony. Graham is not a combat veteran.

McCain, 77, had a more colorful and painful military career. Both his father and grandfather were four-star admirals, and McCain followed in their footsteps by graduating from the Naval Academy in 1958. During Vietnam, McCain flew bombing missions from an aircraft carrier. He was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 and badly injured.

Out of deference to McCain’s admiral father and his family’s 200-year history of military service, the North Vietnamese offered to release him in 1968, but McCain refused to leave his fellow prisoners behind. He remained a prisoner for five more years, and was released with other American POWs after the Paris Peace Accords in 1973. McCain retired from the Navy in 1981 as a captain.


More odds and ends

With the support of Nebraska Reps. Lee Terry, Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith, the House passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2015 budget on Thursday, which calls for deep cuts in federal spending — $5.1 trillion over 10 years — and the privatization of Medicare.


If you Google “who receives farm subsidies” and go the EWG Farm Subsidy Database, you’ll find the names of about 15 Dinsdales who live in either Palmer, Elkhorn or Omaha listed as beneficiaries of the government’s subsidy program between 1995 and 2012. Nebraska Senate candidate Sid Dinsdale grew up in Palmer, lives in Elkhorn and works in Omaha. What are the odds that he knows some of those folks?


Senate candidate Ben Sasse tried to put the no-big-deal slant on campaign finance during Wednesday’s debate by noting that more money was spent on potato chips than political campaigns during the ’06 and ’08 cycles.

Thanks for the history lesson, Dr. Sasse. The question was about campaign spending since 2010, when the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United ruling started feeding billions more dollars into campaign coffers. is still waiting for an answer, but thanks for the trivia.


Finally, polling shows a larger divide between Republicans and Democrats on climate change during the Obama administration, based at least in part on the parties’ fundamental policy positions.

Republicans are more likely to oppose comprehensive efforts to combat climate change because they would require a federal role nationwide, thus stealing “liberty” from the American people. Democrats, of course, don’t have the same ideological opposition to federal intervention.

Here’s how Oklahoma Sen. Jim  Inhofe explained it to Roll Call:

Jim Inhofe from Roll Call

Watch tonight’s Senate debate live

KETV/Omaha will be live-streaming tonight’s final debate among the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate. thinks you’re going to be able to watch it here.

KLIN/Lincoln’s website says the debate will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Wednesday, after the UNL baseball game against Kansas State. You can find KLIN at 1400 on the AM dial or 94.5 on the FM. Presumably you’ll also find the debate on the KLIN website here.

The debate is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. CDT at the University of Nebraska College of Law on East Campus.

We’ll update as more information becomes available.

Update: Jason Dannelly

Jason Dannelly, the former athletic director at Midland University, was sentenced Wednesday to a year’s probation on misdemeanor charges related to his attempts to solicit sex from two female student-athletes at Midland.

Jason Dannelly's mug shot, as reported by KETV

Jason Dannelly’s mug shot, as reported by KETV

Dannelly, 34, was originally charged with two felony and two misdemeanor charges. He pleaded no contest to the reduced misdemeanor charges in February, according to reports in the Fremont Tribune and KETV/ABC in Omaha.

Dannelly is to reappear before Dodge County District Court Judge Geoffrey Hall in October, so Hall can confirm that Dannelly is complying with the terms of his probation. Dannelly faces 6 months in jail if he does not.

The Tribune reported this about the court proceedings:


Midland University President and U.S. Senate candidate Ben Sasse hired Dannelly, then a radio personality and sports broadcaster, as Midland’s AD in August 2011. Here’s what he had to say about Dannelly then — thanks again to the Fremont Tribune:

Sasse on Dannelly1

Sasse on Dannelly2

Dannelly’s offers of money in return for sex from the female student-athletes occurred in October and November 2012. Dannelly resigned from the college in December 2012, but he was not charged until July 2013, according to the Tribune. Fremont police spent seven month investigating the evidence, which included text messages from Dannelly to the female students.

Midland University prides itself on its sports program, which is undoubtedly a key recruiting tool because many high school students like the idea of playing “collegiate sports,” even at a  college with only 1,300 students. According to a Midland website, the school offers 25 varsity sports.