Palin endorses Sasse; more poll numbers

Former Alaska Gov. and Tea Party princess Sarah Palin has endorsed Ben Sasse in the Nebraska Senate race.

“Ben Sasse is the clear conservative choice in the Nebraska Senate Race,” Palin said in her endorsement on Facebook.

“He’s witnessed firsthand the corrosive effect big government policies can have, and he knows that Obamacare is as bad as it gets. Ben is a leader we need in D.C. now! He won’t forget who sent him there because his life is firmly grounded in his small town Nebraska roots.”

Palin, who served half a term as Alaska governor and was Sen. John McCain’s running mate in 2008, announced on her Facebook page Wednesday that she would soon endorse a string of candidates who had been both thoroughly vetted and were bound to “shake things up.”

Palin and Sasse not only share  a common conservative objection to Obamacare, but also a love of guns.

Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse and his wife celebrated Valentine's Day this year with a romantic evening of gunfire -- an event they shared on Twitter.

Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse and his wife celebrated Valentine’s Day this year with a romantic evening of gunfire — an event they shared on Twitter.

For what it’s worth, Shane Osborn defeated “undecided” 35 percent to 30 percent in a recent poll by Breitbart News and The Polling Company. Ben Sasse came in third with 24 percent. Support for the rest of the Republican field — Sid Dinsdale, Bart McLeay and Clifton Johnson — was in the single digits.

The poll showed that ridding the nation of Obamacare was the main concern of poll respondents, with Osborn leading Sasse 35 percent to 28 percent among those who strongly oppose Obamacare. Forty-three percent of those polled said economic issues were the main factor in their preference. puts this poll in the for-what-it’s worth category for several reasons:

  • Only six weeks ago, the Sasse campaign was trumpeting the news that Sasse had pulled into a dead heat with Osborn in a poll sponsored by the Conservative Intelligence Briefing blog.
  • None of the polls so far has met commonly accepted polling standards. The Sasse surge poll also raised questions about conflicts-of-interest by reporters Scott Clement and Peyton Craighill at the Washington Post.
  • It’s a Breitbart poll.

Are we going to have to wait until May 13 to find out what voters are really thinking?

Senate race roundup

Omaha banker and Republican Senate candidate launches first commerical

Omaha banker and Republican Senate candidate launches first commercial

If you missed Sid Dindale‘s first commercial during Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News Wednesday night, you can catch it here on The Omaha World-Herald says it’s a small, $15,000 buy, but we’ll undoubtedly see more from the Omaha banker’s campaign to succeed Mike Johanns in the Senate. All of the major GOP candidates for Senate have now launched commercials.

If a 16-day government shutdown didn't kill Obamacare, how do Nebraska's Senate candidates expect to do it?

If a 16-day government shutdown didn’t kill Obamacare, how do Nebraska’s Senate candidates expect to do it?

All of the Republican candidates are on the Obamacare-must-be-abolished bandwagon, but none has explained how it will be any more possible in 2015 than it was in 2013, when the House voted more than 50 times to abolish the Affordable Care Act.

The reality is that these things will have to happen first: A Republican takeover of the Senate (highly unlikely this year) AND the untimely, unfortunate deaths of both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. It is only with Republican control of the Senate and a President John Boehner (there’s a thought!) that the Affordable Care Act could be killed.

So major league kudos to Chris Schukei, assistant news director at KHAS/TV5 in Hastings, for trying to press Senate candidate Shane Osborn on how he would be any more successful in killing Obamacare than the man he hopes to replace, Sen. Mike Johanns.

Schukei’s question: “When all of you are talking about being able to repeal it and make the changes, isn’t it the reality that the equation is going to be the same? Mike Johanns has been voting no against this all the way. So, can any of you go to Washington and make any difference in this?”

Osborn’s answer: “I think you can make a difference. If you couldn’t, I wouldn’t be doing this. Right? You have to go there and build relationships and work together to get what’s best for the country done, and put the country first.” You can see the full interview at This exchange starts at about 1:38.

Osborn obviously misses the point, but you can’t really blame him. None of the Republican Senate candidates has addressed the real life obstacles that killing Obamacare would involve. And that includes prop candidate Ben Sasse, who traveled the state with a 12-foot stack of paper to represent all of the federal regulations related to Obamacare. (It’s the nation’s health care system. Of course it’s complicated. Medicare Part D was complicated, too)

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Monday is the last day for aspiring members of Congress to file paperwork with the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office for the May 13 primary. Candidates need to appear in person and bring $1,740 to cover the filing fee.


Finally, is soliciting questions you would like to see answered by House and Senate candidates before the primary election. How old is the Earth? is the first question on our list. It may seem silly, but the answer — 5,000 years or a whole lot older than that — tells you a lot about a person and their politics.

Add your questions through the comments box or send them to


Coburn endorses Sasse; RNCC builds deceptive web sites

Nebraska Senate hopeful Ben Sasse

Nebraska Senate hopeful Ben Sasse

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn has endorsed Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse, whom he says he spent a considerable amount of time with while Sasse was an assistant secretary of Health and Human Services during the most recent Bush administration. He said he found the-then HHS staffer ‘responsive and very responsible.”

Lincoln Journal Star writer Don Walton reported Coburn’s endorsement of Sasse a few days ago. Said Coburn: “If he was running in Oklahoma, I’d vote for him.”

And, lest I forget, Sasse has a birthday card for Sarah Palin on his Facebook page that Palin fans are welcome to sign. The former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate hits the big 5-0 on Tuesday.

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The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee has raised the ire of Democrats and others by putting up phony web sites that appear to support Democratic candidates, but are really fund-raising tools for the NRCC.

The NRCC has built at least 15 of these sites, including one targeting Arizona Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, and says it plans many more as the 2014 political season continues. According to CNN, the NRCC has purchased hundreds of URLs bearing the names of Democratic contenders across the nation.

The sites typically feature large, attractive photos of Democratic candidates, but the copy bashes them for supporting Obamacare or some other program Republicans consider a crime against America, They also include a donation box, with the money going to the to the NRCC and Republican House candidates.

The text on the sites makes it obvious that it is not in support of the candidate, but supporters of the candidates will find them confusing, which is just what the RNCC wants. Daniel Scarpinato, press secretary for the organization, told CNN “we are very proud of this program.”

McLeay launches 1st campaign ad


Republican Sen. candidate Bart McLeay has launched his first televison commercial with a statewide ad buy in the neighborhood of $100,000. The spot debuted during NBC’s coverage of the Olympics, and will be running for the next few weeks.

Some blogs have panned the folksy commercial featuring McLeay’s family, but it’s a nice change from the typical political talking head, and the McLeay family shows a natural talent for delivering lines. Catch it on YouTube if you miss it on your small screen.

McLeay is an Omaha native, business lawyer and partner at the Omaha law firm of Kutak Rock. He played football for a year at the University of Arizona and graduated from the University of Virginia law school.

According to his campaign web site, he is pro-gun, pro-life and pro-flat tax. He supports limited government and cutting spending “back to basics and budget(ing) within our means.” He says he would replace Obamacare with a free-market-based alternative, which may pique your interest because the basis of Obamacare is having Americans buy insurance on the free market.

Learn more about candidate McLeay at

October to February is how many months?

Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse’s crowing about his rapid rise in the polls has gone a bit too far. In an email distributed Friday, Sasse claims to have come from far down in the pack to nearly even with front-runner Shane Osborn in one short month. From his “this is big” email:

this is big email

The problem? Only two polls have been conducted in the Nebraska Senate race. One was conducted by the Osborn campaign in October 2013. The second was conducted this week. So, the Sasse campaign either miscounted the number of months between October and February or it conducted its own poll last month and did not release the results to the public.

Or maybe he’s puffing to make the surge more dramatic than it probably was. Sasse has raked in big dollars, he’s a darling of the conservative media, and he’s run plenty of campaign commercials. It’s no surprise that he’s all but caught up with former State Treasurer Osborn. But it’s an accomplishment that stands on it’s own. There’s no need for the hype.

And it got worse when I found this on his Facebook page. I left a post asking about the one-month claim. I’ll let you know if I receive a response.

Sasse Facebook

In any event, it wasn’t the only problem this week for Sasse’s e-campaign. To celebrate the birthday of President Reagan, Republican pols across the country Tweeted some of the gipper’s most noted lines. Sasse’s first try with this one had an embarrassing typo.


Normally, the Sunglight Foundation’s Politiwoops site catches all deleted Tweets, but this one mysteriously disappeared from the Intertubes. It was reported everywhere on Thursday, but notoriously hard to find on Friday. Thanks to South Sioux City Journal columnist Bret Hayworth for memorializing it.

You Voted for Them, Nebraska is normally forgiving about typos — we’ve made a few ourselves — but a professional, multi-million-dollar campaign should be able to handle 144-character Tweets. After all, Sasse is a PhD and university president.

Senate notes

Max Baucus is new ambassador to China
Montana Sen. Max Baucus was elevated to ambassador to China Thursday by his Senate colleagues. They confirmed his nomination by President Obama on a vote of 96-0. Nebraska Sens. Deb Fischer and Mike Johanns voted for Baucus, a Democrat who served nearly 36 years in the Senate. Baucus voted “present” on his nomination. Not voting were Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, and Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran.

Unemployment extension fails again, Johanns and Fischer opposed
The Senate fell one vote shy Thursday of moving ahead on legislation that would have renewed extended unemployment benefits for 1.7 million Americans. Nebraska Sens. Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer, both Republicans, voted against the extension.

S. 1845 picked up four “yes” votes from Republicans, but failed 58-40. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the 59th vote, changed his “yes” vote to “no” to preserve the bill’s procedural status as eligible for reconsideration.

It was the Senate’s second failed attempt to renew extended unemployment benefits since they expired Dec. 28.

The $6.4 billion extension was negotiated between Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Dean Heller of Nevada. Heller, Collins, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska provided the extension’s only Republican “yes” votes.

The latest extension attempt would have been paid for through changes in the federal retirement programs, known as “pension smoothing.” Republicans have no objection to pension smoothing, but would rather use the money to restore small cuts in cost of living adjustments in military retiree benefits.

An attempt to pass a three-month extension that would not be paid for also failed Thursday, 55-43. It was also opposed by Sens. Johanns and Fischer.

States individually determine the length and amount of unemployment benefits, but Congress commonly extends unemployment benefits in period of high unemployment. These extensions are paid for by the federal government.

Nebraska Senate candidate Dinsdale would be third richest member of Congress

Using data from Roll Call and financial disclosure forms, the Omaha World-Herald is reporting that banking executive and Republican Senate candidate Sid Dinsdale would be at least the third wealthiest member of Congress if elected today. His competitors in the race for Sen. Mike Johanns’ seat are far from poor, but none has wealth even approaching that level.

Dinsdale, chairman of the Pinnacle bank holding company started by his family, is worth at least $110 million, according to the World-Herald, but could be worth much more because assets are reported in broad categories. He would rank third in Congress behind Rep. Darrell Issa, Republican from California, who is worth at least $335 million, and might surpass Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who is worth at least $114 million. Issa made his fortune in car alarms. McCaul married into one of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies.

Poll: Sasse closing gap on Osborn in Senate race

According to a newly released poll, Midland University President Ben Sasse has nearly closed the gap on Shane Osborn in the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mike Johanns.

The Harper Polling numbers show Osborn leading with 30.44 percent of support among likely Republican primary voters, and Sasse coming in second with 29.03 percent. Osborn’s lead is within the poll’s 4 percent margin of error. “Not sure” came in third with 23.19 percent of the vote. Bank executive Sid Dinsdale was fourth with 13.10 percent and attorney Bart McLeay was fifth with 4.25 percent.

Even more interesting, the poll shows that Attorney General Jon Bruning would jump to the lead in the governor’s race if he were to enter. Bruning would take 35 percent of the likely voters, compared with Pete Ricketts’ 16 percent, according to the Harper Poll.

The poll shows a huge leap in popularity for Sasse. A poll conducted by the Osborn campaign in October, showed the former Navy pilot with a commanding lead over the field. Osborn came in with 39 percent. Sasse and Dinsdale trailed with 7 percent and McLeay had 1 percent.

The newest poll was sponsored by the blog Conservative Intelligence Briefing. It contacted 565 likely Republican primary voters. Harper Polling conducts interactive voice-response polls, also known as robo-polls, which are generally considered less accurate than polls conducted with human interviewers. Many news organizations consider them so unreliable that they do not report the results of robo-polls.

One problem with robo-polls is that they are usually programmed only to call phones on land lines, which Americans have abandoned in large numbers. Democrats have used robo-polls for years, and Republicans have recently turned to them because live interview polls ahead of the 2012 presidential election turned out to be disastrously wrong. They are also much cheaper to conduct than live polls.

Notes from the campaign trail, Part 2

Rumor has it that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, all but certain to be a 2016 presidential candidate, will be the main draw at a Nebraska Republican Party fundraiser this spring. Stay tuned for details.

After months of speculation, Omaha attorney David Domina is set to announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate as a Democrat. Rumors swirled for months that Domina would take the plunge for either the Senate seat opened by Mike Johanns’ retirement or challenge U.S. Rep. Lee Terry for the 2nd District seat. Domina’s announcement is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Capitol Rotunda. After a luncheon in Omaha, he’ll embark on a six-day tour of the state.

Bart McLeay, an Omaha attorney and Republican candidate for Senate, has a new video about agriculture. McLeay’s grandfather served Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers after opening a medical practice in Stapleton in 1900, and McLeay says he will continue to fight for Nebraska’s ag producers. As a lawyer, he has represented landowners along the Niobrara River and protected irrigation rights on the Republican River.

Over the weekend, Jordan Gehrke senior advisor to Republican Senate candidate Ben Sasse,  Tweeted this unseemly artwork. Two unrelated quotes taken out of context and made 50 years apart? Very classy, Sasse. What’s next? Hitler and Obama?