Friday, September 05, 2014

Race of the Day- Nebraska U.S. Senate

60 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Open
2012 Presidential Result: Red State (Midwest)

Outlook: Safe Republican

Well, first of all I must begin by saying that a storm wiped out my power today and I am forced to try to post this at somebody else's computer. This one seems to be infected with all sorts of viruses and pop-ups, so who knows, if this even works, but I did not want to skip a day. I really should buy a laptop one day.

The political landscape in Nebraska is far less stormy, where Republicans are expected to easily hold a Senate seat in what is probably the least followed open U.S. Senate race anywhere in America, in some time. Just about any state would see at least some competition between the parties for a chance to send someone to the Senate, but the past few years have seen blue states get bluer and red states get redder. Democrats really have no chance of winning a statewide federal race in Nebraska, even under circumstances that could at least be somewhat promising.

If they fell as short as they did in the Presidential year of 2012 for an open seat, when their nominee was a former Governor, U.S. Senator, and Presidential candidate, they really had no illusions about this race. Two little  known candidates competed for the nomination, which went easily to attorney David Domina. He had last run for office in 1986, failing to win his party's nomination. Adding the title of U.S. Senate nominee to his resume may be a nice accomplishment.

As was the case in the Gubernatorial race, a whole bunch of Republicans wanted to be Nebraska's U.S. Senate nominee, after GOP incumbent Mike Johanns decided that six years in the Senate, and many more before that in public service, in jobs ranging from Mayor to Governor, to U.S. Agriculture Secretary, were enough. Five candidates competed in the primary, and all most could lay claim to some notable endorsements. Starting off the race, the favorite was considered to be former State Treasurer Shane Osborn. He was considered the choice of the NRSC. He first received notice as a young U.S. Navy aviator, when his plane was forced to make a landing and he was detained for several days by the Chinese government. He used that experience and name recognition to help launch a political career in Nebraska, just a few years later.

However, as has become common in recent Nebraska GOP primaries,  the once statewide elected Osborn saw his bid eclipsed by a less politically experienced opponent. Ben Sasse had worked in government and business, including some time in Washington D.C., in a high ranking Health and Human Services position, but at the age of just 37, he became President of small Midland University in his native Nebraska. It was from that post that he launched a Senate campaign, and soon received high marks as a rising political talent. Sasse was able to win over many in the Tea Party movement, but still managed to not alienate establishment Republicans in the state, although he had some works of criticism for top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.

As Osborn and Sass went after each other on the campaign trail, there was some thought, that like what happened in the state in the 2012 Senate primary, a third Republican might benefit from the rift. Indeed, when the voting occurred in May, Osborn's campaign finish in third place, behind bank President Sid Dinsdale, who was considered more of a moderate Republican. However, Sasse, who had become a modest frontrunner in the polls, won the five way primary with nearly half of the total vote and well more than twice that of his nearest competitor. The GOP primary for Governor that day was far closer. For Sasse though, his big primary win seemed paramount to his becoming a freshman U.S. Senator.

While any GOP nominee would be the favorite in an open Nebraska Senate race, it is fairly remarkable how Domina and his party are just complete afterthoughts in this race. All polls have shown Sasse way ahead, and over 50 percent of the vote. Democrats may try to say that he is too far to the right, but Sasse has proven to be a shrewd and effective candidate. The Tea Party seems to like him and eve those who are not exactly fans of that group seem very comfortable with Sasse gong to Washington and being far more of a hard working, reliable conservative than a grandstander.

It is fairly rare for me to rate an open Senate race as "Safe" for either party, barring extraordinary circumstances, but this is just really not much of a contest. If soon to be Senator Sasse is as advertised, his political future should be bright.

Sasse campaign link:

Senate races predicted thus far: 7 D (4 Safe, 2 Leans, 1 Tossup), 13 R (5 Safe, 2 Likely, 4 Leans, 2 Tossup)Overall predicted thus far: 41 D, 43 R (net Republican gain of 5)


At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Conservative Democrat said...

You're almost at my home state of Texas yet?

Internal Poll has Abbott up 53%-35%.


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