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.

*****

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.

*****

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.

*****

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.

*****

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.

*****

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.

*****

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?

*****

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.

*****

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.

*****

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.

*****

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, 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 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.

*****

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 sam@leeterry.com

http://youtu.be/bbEARnmgVj8 See the Dinsdale ad there.

Aside

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. uVoted4them.com 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

Saturday edition

Dave Domina, Nebraska's Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate

Dave Domina, Nebraska’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate

Democratic Senate candidate Dave Domina has announced via Twitter that he will appear on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. uVoted4them.com is betting that Domina will appear on a segment about the proposed Keystone Pipeline. (Preview it here.) Domina is one of the lawyers on the front-lines in the legal battle between property owners and the pipeline’s owner, TransCanada.

“Meet the Press” appears at different times around the country, usually scheduled around local affiliates’ religious programming. You can watch the program online here.

*****

Congratulations to Joe Ricketts’ Ending Spending PAC for finding its way into FactCheck.org’s Players Guide 2014, an info-base about  groups seeking to influence elections this year. Members are largely selected based on the amounts they spend and/or the media attention they receive. FactCheck.org also has a nice section, Party Lines, that untangles truth from fiction in common political arguments.

*****

House Republicans made their 55th stab at repealing Obamacare last week when they voted to pass a measure that would change the definition of full-time work.

Nebraska Reps. Lee Terry, Adrian Smith and Jeff Fortenberry all voted for the Save Workers Act of 2014, which would redefine “full-time” work for the purposes of Obamacare as a 40-hour work week. Currently, employees qualify for coverage under Obamacare if they work 30 hours per week.

Eighteen Democratic House members facing stiff primary elections joined 230 Republicans in voting for the measure. Chances that it will go anywhere in the Democratically controlled Senate? Zero.

*****

Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse and Utah Sen. Mike Lee shared a byline April 3 in an anti-Obamacare op-ed in the uber-conservative Washington Examiner. There’s nothing new for Nebraskans who’ve been following Sasse. It’s the same old Obama-is-a-liar and Obamacare-is-awful spiel.The Examiner is owned by the same billionaire who owns The Weekly Standard.

*****

 As American politicians continue to haggle over raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10, the German parliament is expected to take up a proposal that would set that nation’s minimum wage at the dollar-equivalent of $11.75. The German cabinet approved the increase last week and, if passed by parliament, would give Germans their first official minimum wage. Current law simply forbids employers from paying “immoral wages.” Trade unions and business groups generally regulate wages.

Each of Nebraska’s four Republican candidates for Senate — Sid Dinsdale, Bart McLeay, Shane Osborn and Ben Sasse — opposes raising the minimum wage for American workers, and all said at a recent debate that they would be fine with eliminating the minimum wage altogether. Democratic candidate for Senate Dave Domina supports raising the minimum wage.

 

A little bit of everything

The good news for Michael Wilson is that, at 20, his arrest for underage drinking will qualify for one of those “young and dumb” excuses when he runs for office at 40.

Michael Wilson says his M.I.P arrest shouldn't affect voters, because he's the same person he was before he was arrested. Ah, youth. No, Michael, you are now a person with a rap sheet.

Michael Wilson says his M.I.P arrest shouldn’t affect voters, because he’s the same person he was before he was arrested. Ah, youth. No, Michael, you are now a person with a rap sheet.

The bad news for Michael Wilson is that his current campaign for Ward 1 of the Fremont City Council is probably over.

The MIP arrest was bad enough, but what has a lot Fremont residents talking is Wilson’s it’s-no-big-deal comments to the Fremont Tribune:
Michael Wilson

Many Fremonters will undoubtedly think twice about voting for a candidate too dumb to understand what every other underage college kid knows: You don’t drink noisily in public, at loud parties, where annoyed neighbors are likely to call the police. Wilson, by the way, just turned 20 in March. He studies political science and public relations at Midland University.

*****

It’s been difficult keeping up with endorsements in the Nebraska Senate race. We hope we’re not leaving anyone out.

Sid Dinsdale — Former congressman and Gov. Charles Thone. Former Nebraska football coach and U.S. Rep. Tom Osborne. Sarpy County board member Don Kelly and Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov. Mayors David Black of Papillion, Doug Kindig of LaVista, Scott Kudrna of Auburn, Rick Landwehr of Lorton, and Jim Timmerman of Gretna.

Bart McLeay — Former U.S. Rep. Jon Christensen of Nebraska’s 2nd District and former U.S. Sen. David Karnes.

Shane Osborn — Steve Forbes, publishing mogul and former presidential candidate, Phyllis Schlafly, National Defense PAC, Combat Veterans for Congress PAC, National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition, Family-PAC Federal, Concerned Women PAC, radio host Rick Amato, and former 3rd District U.S. Rep. Bill Barrett. Former Creighton Law School Dean Patrick Borchers has also endorsed Osborn, as have a dozen or so former or current Nebraska state senators. They include Ray Aguilar, Colby Coash, Pat Engle, Scott Lautenbaugh, Bill Kintner, Rich Pahls, and Scott Price.

Ben Sasse — CatholicVote.org, Freedom Works, Senate Conservatives Fund, Club for Growth, Dick Armey, Rep. Paul Ryan, National Review, Red State blogger Erick Erickson, radio host Mark Levin, Sen. Tom Coburn, Gun Owners for America, Family Research Council, Sen. Mike Lee, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Additionally, all four Republican Senate candidates have been endorsed by Nebraska Right to Life.

*****

After the defeat of measures that would expand Medicaid and raise the minimum wage in Nebraska, a group of state senators is sponsoring a Rally for Working Families next week at the state Capitol. It starts at 5:30 p.m. April 8 on the west (Lincoln statue) side of the Capitol. Check here for more information. Sponsoring Senators include Jeremy Nordquist, Danielle Conrad and Heath Mello.

*****

Nebraska’s Ricketts family is using their Ending Spending super PAC to launch attack ads against Michelle Nunn, a Democrat who is running for the U.S. Senate in Georgia. Ending Spending is spending $150,000 on media time to run the ad that attacks Nunn for — what else? — supporting Obamacare.

Nunn has been polling well, leading three of the four Republican candidates to replace the retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, and is tied with the Republican frontrunner, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun. Democrats consider Georgia a state where they may pick up a Senate seat. Among those campaigning for Nunn are Vice President Joe Biden.

*****

It’s not often that we get emails from Sen. Mike Johanns, so his warning about a phishing scam must be important. A group purporting to be the Taxpayer Advocate Service is attempting to collect personal information through an email saying that your 2013 return has been flagged and that you should contact the group. Sen. Johanns recommends not clicking on any of the links and forwarding the email to phishing@irs.gov

*****

Finally, uVoted4them.com has had enough of the complaints about the legislature’s override of a bill allocating state funds for the renovation of the state Capitol. We’ve been to capitols all over the country, and Nebraska has a one-of-a-kind, the likes of which will never be built again. For those Nebraskans who take for granted our work of art, we post this photo from a current AP story about Art Deco muralist Hildreth Meiere, one of the world-class artists on display every day in Lincoln.

JohnansRotunda2

Abortion, the big stage and the airwaves

Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer appears to be among a group of lawmakers being vetted by the Susan B. Anthony List as potential anti-abortion candidates on the national stage.

Fischer, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, talk show host Mike Huckabee and Utah Sen. Mike Lee were the top names at SBA’s annual Gala & Summit last week in Washington.

Word is that the right-wing group is unhappy that the last two Republican presidential nominees were more concerned about economic issues than social concerns, so it’s looking for anti-abortion candidates it can support in the 2016 primaries.

Part of that effort is finding a way to recast the abortion debate in terms that make it more acceptable to women voters. Fischer attempted to do that during the Susan B. Anthony List event:

“Abortion is not a woman’s issue,” she said. “It is not a men’s issue. it is not a health care issue. It is a violence issue.”

An issue of violence? That argument that is not likely to sway pro-choice female voters, but Fischer did better than Lee, Huckabee and Cruz, who had only red meat to offer the audience.

Huckabee predicted that if abortion is not stopped this generation, the next generation will be killing the elderly. Lee said pro-life voters are savages who embrace a culture of death. Not to be outdone, Cruz called them ruthless worshipers of Satan.

Fischer, in only her second year in the Senate, isn’t likely to find herself in the presidential mix in 2016, but who knows? If male candidates fail to charm female voters in 2016, Fischer might find herself very nicely positioned in 2020.

*****

Each of the four major candidates for Mike Johanns’ Senate seat have been endorsed by the anti-abortion Nebraska Right to Life PAC. They are Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale, Omaha lawyer Bart McLeay, former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, and Midland University President Ben Sasse.

*****

Shane Osborn’s campaign, meanwhile, is launching its first television commercial. About a month ago, the organization Special Operations for America ran a 30-second ad independent of the Osborn campaign, but this is the first commercial paid for by the campaign. Roll Call quotes an Osborn source as saying they made an $80,000 ad buy.

The good news and the other news

This lucky little girl will  grow up with the story that she was born during her grandpa's run for U.S. Senate. How many kids can say that? Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Sid Dinsdale on the birth of a new granddaughter, Violet Grace.

This lucky little girl will grow up with the story that she was born during her grandpa’s run for U.S. Senate. How many kids can say that? Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Sid Dinsdale on the birth of a new granddaughter, Violet Grace.

*****

U.S. Rep. and Mrs. Jeff Fortenberry recently spent eight days in sunny, oceanside Cartagena, Colombia, courtesy of the Aspen Institute. Roll Call’s Political Money Line column reports that the Fortenberrys were among of a contingent of 19 members of Congress (most with spouses) who went to Colombia for an “educational workshop.” The value of the Fortenberrys’ free trip was reported at $5,775.

*****

If you missed the dust-up between Republican Senate candidates Shane Osborn and Ben Sasse, you didn’t miss anything unless you are on the far-right fringe of Nebraska Republicans.

It all started when Poltico posted a story linking Sasse to a Washington firm’s early jump on the let’s-make-money-from-Obamacare bandwagon. The Weekly Standard then came to Sasse’s defense, saying that it wasn’t true and that the Osborn campaign was peddling oppo research to Politico. Some third party jumped in with old stories about Osborn’s nasty divorce and, well, the fight was still making headlines on Sunday.

Basically, the Politico story suggests that Sasse took the expertise he gained working for former Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to the consulting firm Leavitt started after leaving President George W. Bush’s administration.

Sasse says he never made a dime from Leavitt’s firm — and that he never even really worked there — despite his name turning up on some documents and PowerPoint presentations, and former co-workers remembering him at events where Leavitt’s company wooed potential clients looking for help with Obamacare.

So what are Osborn and Sasse fighting about? Which one of them hates Obamacare most, who started hating it first, and how could Sasse even think of making money from the Affordable Care Act if he hated it so much? uVoted4them.com rates this fight as a backseat squabble that needs to end before somebody’s dad stops this car.

*****

The May primary is still seven weeks away,  but the Sasse campaign has started distributing 14,000 pounds of yard signs. We haven’t seen any signs yet, but  uVoted4Them.com already misses the Lincoln city ordinance that limited campaign signs to the two weeks before the election.

By the way, you have the Legacy Foundation Action Fund to thank for Sasse’s new campaign ads. According to Federal Election Commission filings, the conservative group is spending $25,000 on internet ads and $286,160 on television time.

*****

There’s a fascinating piece by Dan Balz in Sunday’s Washington Post about how new media consumption habits are changing campaign ad strategy. Less than half of voters (48 percent) say that live TV is their primary source of video content, so politicians are having to diversify their ad mix for those who mostly use steaming video or video on demand.

For those 52 percenters, like uVoted4Them.com, who don’t watch live television, you can see Sasse’s new spot here.

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.

uVoted4them.com 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?