Catching up I

Republican nominee for governor Pete Ricketts has chosen the current lieutenant governor, Lavon Heidemann, as his running mate.

Heidemann, 55, has been lieutenant governor since February 2013, Lavon Heidemanwhen he was appointed to the post by Gov. Dave Heineman to replace Lt. Gov.Rick Sheehy. Heideman served eight years in the legislature, six years as chairman of the appropriations committee. In 2012, he was elected a University of Nebraska regent.

Heidemann, whose website describes him as a farmer, rancher and volunteer firefighter, links the billionaire Ricketts to the everyday world of agriculture. As a former state senator, Heidemann also would be an asset in dealing with the legislature. Ricketts has no previous experience in government.

Ricketts faces Chuck Hassebrook in the race to replace the term-limited Heineman.

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What does uVoted4them.com think of Gov. Heineman’s bid to become president of the University of Nebraska?

Since you asked, we think he’s too old. He’ll be 67 when his term ends, and we’d prefer he pursue the normal activities of a retired Dave Heinemangovernor his age: Run for another office, find a nonprofit to join, sit on corporate boards, scout Washington for a lobbying gig. Who knows? There’s an election in 2016, and there might be a new Republican administration looking for a guy just like him.

No offense to the governor, but we just think he’s too old to start a new career as the top administrator of an institution as large and diverse as the university system. Maybe if he’d done a better job with the large and diverse state Department of Health and Human Services …

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Jim Jenkins of Callaway, an independent in the race to succeed Mike Johanns in the U.S. Senate, told the Fremont Tribune that he has more than enough signatures to get his name on the ballot, and will be submitting them in a couple of weeks.

Jim JenkinsJenkins runs the family ranch in Custer County. After college, he worked in Illinois and Ohio , then returned to Nebraska to raise his family. He launched the Whiskey Creek Steakhouse chain and Skeeter Barnes restaurants.

Jenkins also was chairman of the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

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Daniel Keylin, who Nebraskans might remember as communications director for Sen. Deb Fischer during her successful 2012 campaign, has joined the staff of Thom Tillis, according to Roll Call. Tillis is the current house speaker in North Carolina. He is trying to unseat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.

 

We’re back

Today, uVoted4them.com makes its return from vacation. We had a great time. Hope you did, too.

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U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer is one of 24 senators whose wish came true Friday with the resignation of Eric Shinseki as secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Sen. Deb Fischer

Sen. Deb Fischer

Fischer was one of 13 Senate Republicans and 11 Democrats who called for the resignation after a preliminary report from the VA inspector general’s office disclosed that roughly 1,700 veterans who’d requested services from the VA in Phoenix, Ariz., were never scheduled for appointments or put on a waiting list.

In the House, ABC News put together a list of 32 Democrats and 72 Republicans also calling for Shinseki’s departure. Of the Nebraska delegation, only 3rd District Rep. Adrian Smith was listed.

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Nebraska’s House delegation — Reps. Terry, Fortenberry, and Smith — all voted against a measure Friday that would prevent the DEA from raiding medical marijuana farms in states that allow the use of medical marijuana.

The amendment, sponsored by California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, passed anyway, on vote of 219-189.

Pot farms are far from safe, however.  The appropriations bill to which Rohrabacher’s amendment was attached still needs to be passed by the House, agreed to by the Senate and signed into law.

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Sen. Mike Johanns has been named one of 32 members of Congress recognized as a “Fiscal Hero” by the Campaign to Fix the Debt.

MikeJohannsFiscal heroes are chosen for a number of reasons, include their voting records, floor speeches, introduction of legislation, attempts to push leadership toward certain policy positions, efforts to emphasize the nation’s debt at town hall meetings and other constituent contacts.

Campaign to Fix the Debt is one of the groups financed by Wall Street billionaire Peter G. Peterson, whose ambition is to cut earned-benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Peterson, 86, doesn’t attract the attention of, say, the Koch Brothers, because he maintains a low profile, and his groups publically project a reasonable, bipartisan spirit.

Democrats the group has named as “Fiscal Heroes” include Sens. Mike Bennet of Colorado, Tom Carper and Chris Coons, both of Delaware, and Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

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If he’s lucky, Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse will never again have to follow a reality Duck Dynasty Phil Robertsonstar in camoflauge to the lectern, as he did Thursday night in New Orleans.

The Daily Beast reports that half the audience at the Republican Leadership Conference left the hall after keynote speaker and  Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson delivered they keynote speech.

Sasse followed Robertson to the stage about 9 p.m., after a long night of speeches.

Glenn Beck’s The Blaze does a splendid job covering Robertson’s guns-gays-God speech; we’re still trying to find decent coverage of Sasse’s speech.

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Ben Sasse’s Senate campaign is adding staff. The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind., reports that James Wegmann has quit his job with Indiana Rep. Martin Stutzman to work for Sasse. Wegmann has been on Stutzman’s communications staff since 2010.

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Dr. Marie Belin, an Omaha pediatrician and Douglas County co-chair of the Ben Sasse for MarieBelin149x199Senate campaign, has been named vice chairman of the Nebraska Republican Party.

Belin is a Nebraska native who grew up in Lincoln. She is a partner in Village Pointe Pediatrics, and has long been active in Nebraska politics, according to J.L. Spray, state party chairman.

“Marie will bring a range of talents and experience to the NEGOP and I look forward to working closely with here,” Spray said in a statement. “Her experiences with grassroots campaigns will be a valuable addition in our efforts to elect Republicans throughout Nebraska.”

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Lincoln businessman Todd Watson is trying to create some traction for his independent bid for the U.S. Senate. The self-described Todd Watsonfaith-based conservative told the Lincoln Journal Star‘s Don Walton that the two-party system is broken. “We need to reduce government regulation, but if you break the laws, you get extra oversight. If you caused an economic meltdown, you deserve oversight, ” Watson said.

Watson said he’s already collected the 4,000 signatures needed to get on the November ballot, but hasn’t turned them in yet. Also gathering signatures for an independent bid is Jim Jenkins.

We found this from Watson on youtube.com.

 

 

Where to begin?

The Nebraska Tourism Commission picked a heck of a week to unveil its new slogan, “Nebraska Nice.”

In just the past week, outside interest groups have poured more than $1 million in outside expenditures into Nebraska’s Republican Senate primary — mostly for attack ads. That brings the grand total for outside spending to $2.6 million.

Sid Dinsdale’s campaign has picked up enough steam that outside interest groups are spending major money to attack him as a — gasp! — moderate. The Pinnacle Bancorp chairman has loaned his campaign a million dollars for the final push toward Tuesday’s election.

The frothy far-right continues to beat up on Shane Osborn, who must be wondering what’s happened to the campaign money that is supposed to accompany the blessing of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Establishment groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee have stayed out of the Nebraska race, leading us to believe that nobody cares who wins in Nebraska — except the Tea Party establishment, which is spending freely on Midland University President Ben Sasse.

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns, who doesn’t plan to endorse any of the five Republican candidates seeking to replace him, criticized of the nastiness of the Senate race during interviews this past week.

Johanns, who has held elective office pretty much continuously since 1983, when he was elected to the Lancaster County Board, said he never mentioned his opponents by name in campaign ads. Here are a couple of his comments to David Drucker at the Washington Examiner .

JohannsMay82

JohannsMay81

Also not endorsing a candidate in the Nebraska Senate primary: Sen. Deb Fischer.

In other news:

  • With about 80 hours left in the campaign, the Sasse campaign has launched what it promises to be the very last commercial of his primary race. It is a positive ad, but who needs to go negative when you have outside groups doing the dirty work?

 

  • KETV Omaha and KLKN Lincoln pulled the 60 Plus Association’s ad that hammers Osborn for the fake Navy memo that his campaign produced to settle the question of whether he made the right decision to land his crippled spy plane in China. We hear the ad is airing on other Nebraska stations.The 60 Plus Association purchased $145,000 in air time.

 

  • In a rather ham-handed effort to help former state treasurer Osborn,  Pioneer Action Network aired a 15-second ad attacking Sasse for using his children in the ad to talk about how much their father “despises” Obamacare. “Tell Ben Sasse Nebraskans protect their families. They don’t hide behind them,” the ad says.

 

  • There doesn’t seem to be much truth in advertising with Empower Nebraska, a group that has spent $62,538 supporting Sasse with direct mail. The group’s web site describes it as “the first and only super PAC specifically created by Nebraska Republicans to support Nebraska Republicans.” According to FEC reports, however, the group had 10 donors through the April reporting deadline and only three of them were actual Nebraskans. The PAC itself is based at a Tampa, Fla., accounting firm. Six donors live in the Washington metro area and one lives in New Hampshire.

 

  • The Fact Checker column at the Washington Post has given 2nd District U.S. Rep Lee Terry three Pinocchio’s for his anti-Obamacare ad featuring Omahan Andrea Kodad. Turns out that Obamacare didn’t cause her health care premiums to nearly double or the tripling of her co-pays, after all. Kodad still has her old policy because the Obama administration allowed non-ACA compliant health insurance policies to be extended for another two years.

What’s the right’s beef with Dinsdale? Well, there a couple, but they don’t amount to much. Club for Growth and the For America Inc. PAC accuse him of donating to Democrats, which is true. The Pinnacle Bancorp PAC gave $3,500 to former Sen. Ben Nelson between 2006 and 2011.

Dinsdale also gave money to Columbus manufacturing executive Tony Raimondo’s Senate campaign in 2008. But the Behlen Manufacturing Group chairman was pretty much a DINO — Democrat in name only. He was a former Republican who came this close to landing a prominent post in the Bush administration in 2004.

Dinsdale has personally given about $20,000 to Republican candidates in federal races since 1999 — including about $9,000 to Lee Terry. In 2008, he gave Raimondo $2,300. The Pinnacle PAC has contributed about $63,000 to federal candidates over the past two cycles — only $2,500 went to a Democrat, Nelson. There’s not much behind the club’s claim that he gave Democratic candidates money “over and over again.”

Meanwhile, the 60 Plus Association spent $100,000 on Thursday to attack Dinsdale on radio and TV for saying he would always vote to raise the debt ceiling. That probably plays well with the base, but the rest of us know the debt ceiling is raised only to pay for debts already incurred. Floor votes are where spending is controlled.

Dinsdale continues his positive campaign with the ad below. Sasse says he’s run a clean campaign. He may have left most of the dirty work to outside groups, but we just can’t get over the fact that he asked his elderly great-uncle, a noted Fremont businessman and philanthropist, to donate to an outside group’s attack ad. uVoted4them would never treat their relatives so badly. Anyway, here’s Dinsdale’s latest:

uVoted4them.com apologizes for the gap in posts. We hit our nasty limit early in the week. You know it’s bad out there when spring cleaning is more appealing than politics.

 

Sunday: Nine days out

Nebraskans have weighed in on what they think of Senate candidate Ben Sasse’s ad that has his daughters discussing Obamacare, and over the weekend we got to see what Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, thinks.
TheHillMay4SasseKids

The Sasse ad was one of many Sabato critiqued for an article in The Hill on the use of surrogates in campaign ads. With approval ratings for politicians somewhere on the level of used car salesmen, candidates commonly turn to others — often their relatives — to vouch for their character and commitment.

In case you missed it, the 30-second spot features gloomy music in the background, a close up on the girls talking about how their dad “despises” Obamacare and how they pray for the other Senate candidates every morning. And then, as if to show how they are just normal little girls after all, despite their intense thoughts on policy issues, we get two seconds of one of them saying she wants a pony.

uVoted4them has no problem with the use of children in campaign ads, but we would much rather see Sasse’s children in their normal roles of being children.

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The York News Times has endorsed Jon Bruning for governor, rejected both 3rd District U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith and his GOP challenger Tom Brewer, and taken a pass on choosing one of the Republicans vying to succeed Mike Johanns in the Senate.

Publisher Greg Awtry was disappointed by the late April debate between Smith and Brewer. Smith, he says, talks a good game about controlling government spending, but government spending has risen 46 percent over the course of Smith’s career in Congress, and the national debt has doubled. The clincher for Awtry seems to be both candidates’ support for the Keystone XL pipeline.

“We can’t endorse Col. Tom Brewer after his dismal performance (at the debate), and we sure can’t endorse Adrian Smith after his misguided allegiance to foreign oil pipeline companies over his own constituents fighting the Keystone XL. You see, Smith thinks it’s fine for a foreign corporation to take control of farmers’ and ranchers’ land in his Third Congressional District by using the power of eminent domain, and Brewer misstated the incorrect myth that this oil would help us import less oil from the Middle East.”

(For the record, most oil imported into the United States comes from Canada or Latin America. Brewer has erred on this throughout the campaign. At first, uVoted4them.com chose to give him a pass because he was a soldier and not a political pro, but campaigns should be learning experiences. After months on the trail, he’s still stuck in some other decade on this issue — not an encouraging sign.)

Here’s what publisher Awtry said about the four Republicans running for Senate.

YorkNewsTimesNoEndorseApril30

Read for yourself the News Times’ voter guide here.

So much news, so little time

This might be a good weekend to visit Roku’s Channel Store or the neighborhood Redbox if you want to avoid the onslaught of campaign ads during the final 11 days of the primary campaign.

In just the Senate race alone, the Washington Post reports that Ben Sasse’s campaign plans to air $200,000 in ads, Shane Osborn’s campaign has purchased $120,000 worth of air time and Sid Dinsdale’s campaign is going up with $80,000 in ads.

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From the Federal Election Commission independent expenditure filings, come these recent tidbits:

  • Since switching its endorsement from Osborn to Sasse, FreedomWorks for America has spent about $13,500 for online ads supporting Sasse and another thousand on email, social media and printing.
  • Tea Party Patriotic Citizens Fund, another pro-Sasse group, has spent about $17,000 on telemarketing. Those are the folks to blame when your phone rings.
  •  The Senate Conservatives Fund has spent another $27,500 on direct mail and the online processing of contributions, which brings its total outside support to Sasse to $496,303.20
  • Club for Growth Action, another PAC supporting Sasse, has spent more than $220,000 since April 24 for production costs and TV ad time for anti-Osborn ads.
  • Freedom Pioneer Action Network spent $103,525.80 on April 28 for advertising services and communications opposing Sasse.
  • America Inc. spent $50,000 on May 2 for digital production costs and online ads opposing Dinsdale.
  • The FEC says Nebraska Senate candidates have benefited from  $1,536,131.10 in independent expenditures thus far.

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Additionally, the Leavenworth Street political blog has reported that a $200,000 ad buy for the May 3-12 period that was originally purchased by Ensuring a Conservative Nebraska has been handed off to The 60 Plus Association.

As you may recall, Ben Sasse’s great uncle, Rupert Dunklau of Fremont, gave Ensuring a Conservative Nebraska $100,000 last month to finance an anti-Osborn ad. Dunklau, a retired Valmont executive, was the PAC’s sole contributor.

Maybe Uncle Rupert, a well-known philanthropist in the Fremont area, is tired of seeing his name attached to negative ads. In any event, it was unseemly for Sasse, whose campaign told the Omaha World-Herald that Sasse asked his uncle to donate to the group, to claim he’s running a clean campaign at the same time he’s asking relatives for contributions for attack ads.

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Before leaving the topic of outside money in campaigns entirely, the Wesleyan Media Project has issued a report saying that outside interest groups sponsored, on average, 59 percent of the TV ads that have run in Senate races this cycle. In 2012, it was 51 percent.

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Two new polls came out this week for the Nebraska Senate race. Neither meets the reliability criteria for mainstream media coverage, and both raise as many questions as they answer, but they follow below. Forewarned is forearmed.

The first one came from the Sasse campaign and shows him leading with 31 percent, Osborn six points behind at 25 percent, and Dinsdale in third with 22 percent. Bart McLeay was fourth with 5 percent, and Clifton R. Johnson fifth with 3 percent. Undecideds: 12 percent.

The second is from Tea Party Express. It has Sasse leading Osborn 29.2 percent to 26.8 percent. Dinsdale is third with 12.8 percent and Bart McLeay trailed with 3.3 percent. Undecideds: 27.9 percent.

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Sasse-backers are advancing the storyline that the Osborn campaign is dead in the water, and Dinsdale is rapidly gaining ground. It may be true, or it may be just what Ben’s supporters want you to believe. What could be better for Sasse than to have Osborn, the overwhelming favorite at the start of the campaign, to be now perceived as flailing?

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You know you’re doing well when they start attacking you, which should be slim comfort to Sid Dinsdale. Erick Erickson at the Red State blog, who has endorsed Sasse, wrote this week that Sid Dinsdale’s daughter was a board member at Planned Parenthood, and that both Dinsdale’s daughter and his wife were contributors to pro-abortion groups.

Dinsdale said his family has never contributed to pro-choice groups. It was Dinsdale’s sister who was once a member of the Planned Parenthood board. Dinsdale himself has been endorsed by Nebraska Right to Life.

While he was at it, Erickson also frothed that Dinsdale is a really a Democrat. Some of it is pretty silly stuff, but it’s hard to believe the daughter/sister mixup was an innocent mistake. There have been plenty of pictures of the Dinsdale family on Twitter and whatnot. Sid’s daughters aren’t old enough to be serving on those types of boards.

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Both Nebraska Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer voted with the majority of their Republican colleagues to stall a measure to raise the national minimum wage.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee was the only Republican to vote for allowing  an up-or-down vote. He said he doesn’t support raising the minimum wage, but thinks the issue should be debated.

Raising the minimum wage is a longshot right now, but Democrats are hoping to build enough public pressure this midterm election year to finally get it through. The bill is sponsored by Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, who is retiring from the Senate next year.

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You can also expect another symbolic vote next week in the Senate, this one involving the Keystone XL pipeline. Democrats in tight reelection battles are eager to cast a vote that tells constituents they want the pipeline built now. The vote might come on a nonbinding “sense of the Senate” resolution or an actual law. Any legislation would likely be vetoed, however, leaving the vote meaningless.

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A belated happy birthday to country music icon Willie Nelson, who turned 81, and Attorney General, and Republican candidate for governor, Jon Bruning. He turned 45 this week.

Monday again

‘Tis the season for newspapers to make endorsements, and Sid Dinsdale has won the endorsement of the Omaha World-Herald in the race for U.S. Senate. The Lincoln Journal Star has endorsed Shane Osborn.

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The Omaha World-Herald has taken Ben Sasse’s plan to replace Obamacare in for a checkup, and produced an expert analysis of his health care plan.

The bottom line: It would take us back to the bad old days of pre-existing conditions, discriminatory pricing, annual and lifetime caps on benefits, and the kinds of crummy policies that buyers don’t understand until it’s too late.

In exchange for doing away with the benefits and consumer protections Americans have under the Affordable Care Act, Sasse would raise the dollar limits on contributions to health savings accounts.

He would also raise the retirement age, charge wealthier retirees a higher Medicare premium, and change Medicare to a defined-benefit plan based on how much a person paid in– which sounds a lot like U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program. (Ryan has endorsed Sasse.)

Federal Medicaid dollars would still flow to states, but without federal strings on how that money is spent — also a lot like Ryan’s plan to make Medicaid a block-grant program.

Sassecare would also allow insurance companies to sell policies across state lines. Insurance is regulated on the state level, and experts fear that sales across state lines would create a health insurance exodus to the state with the least regulation — much the same way credit card operations flocked to South Dakota when that state removed its 18 percent cap on interest rates in the early 1980s.

In that scenario, uVoted4them.com finds that Nebraskans would benefit from Sassecare only if the state rolled back all or most of its regulations and succeeded in enticing insurance companies to move hereand then taxed them the way South Dakota taxes financial institutions.

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Tea party groups came under the financial microscope of the Washington Post this weekend, which found that only a small percentage of money raised by Tea Party groups finds its way to candidates.

“Of the $37.5 million spent so far by the PACs of six major tea party organizations, less than $7 million has been devoted to directly helping candidates, according to the analysis, which was based on campaign finance data provided by the Sunlight Foundation,” the story says.

Three groups — Tea Party Patriots, Tea Party Express and the Madison Project — spent 5 percent or less on election-related activities. Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks, both supporting Ben Sasse in the Senate race, have spent 40 percent of their contributions directly helping candidates with such items as ads and yard signs.

Meanwhile, the staffs of such groups have been cashing in with six-figure salaries, retirement plans, and other perks. SCF spent $52,000 redecorating its Washington headquarters, according to the Post.

Tea Party leaders have also cashed in by directing business to firms owned by the groups’ executives. Senate Conservatives Fund has paid a company owned by executive director Matt Hoskins $288,000 this election cycle, and the Tea Party express has paid a firm headed by Sal Russo $2.75 million since the beginning of 2013, the Post reported.

The Tea Party was founded to cut wasteful government spending. It raises money by sending out flyers and hosting web sites that attract millions of dollars in mostly small donations from members with little knowledge of how the money is spent.

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If you missed the debate between 3rd District Rep. Adrian Smith and Republican challenger Tom Brewer, you can watch it here. Thanks KNEB News!

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We all know that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has endorsed Pete Ricketts for governor, but did you know that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal says the Ricketts family gave hefty donations to Walker during his recall election in 2012?

According to the Journal Sentinel, Pete Ricketts gave Walker’s campaign $20,000, brother Todd gave $55,000, father J. Joe gave $100,000 and the family’s Ending Spending PAC gave $245,000. That adds up to $420,000.

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Attorney General Jon Bruning has been endorsed by the Lincoln Journal Star and controversial Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio became a celebrity cop after dressing Phoenix inmates in pink underwear and housing them in tents. He also is a “birther” who claimed in 2012 that both President Obama’s birth certificate and selective service card were forgeries.

“Only Jon Bruning can be trusted to oppose amnesty and fight illegal immigration. I am proud to endorse him for governor,” Arpaio said.

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.

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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.

uVoted4them.com 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.

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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.”

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.

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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.

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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 evan@sidforsenate.com

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.

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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.

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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 sam@leeterry.com

http://youtu.be/bbEARnmgVj8 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.

FreedomWorks32dollars
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.

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