Tea Party-Backed Candidate Sasse Wins GOP Senate Primary In Nebraska – Fox News
Tea Party favorite Ben Sasse won the Republican nomination for an open Senate seat in Nebraska Tuesday night, after a heated and costly primary battle that drew heavy national attention.
Sasse, a university president, was able to hold off former state treasurer Shane Osborn and dark horse candidate Sid Dinsdale, who had begun to surge in recent weeks. Sasse grabbed 49 percent of the vote with Dinsdale finishing second and Osborn finishing third, according to preliminary returns.
“We were never doing this because we need another job,” Sasse told supporters Tuesday night. “We were only going to do this if we were going to talk about big, bold conservative ideas.”
The win makes Sasse a huge favorite in November’s general election, where he’ll face Democrat Dave Domina, an Omaha attorney. The winner will replace Republican Mike Johanns, who didn’t seek a second term.
Sasse, the president of Midland University, had steadily gained the backing of some of the most influential conservative groups and figures. His victory is a huge win for the Tea Party, as the movement has struggled to gain traction this year in the primaries.
Osborn had the backing of allies of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and ran an aggressive campaign. Further scrambling the race, Pinnacle Bank President Dinsdale had sought to capitalize on the Sasse-Osborn fight and had climbed in the polls.
In recent weeks, big names gravitated to Sasse’s side, including Sarah Palin and Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. Sasse also has the backing of the Club for Growth, the Tea Party Patriots, the Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks.
“Ben Sasse won this race because he never stopped fighting for conservative principles,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which spent more than $1.2 million to help Sasse.
Cruz said Sasse’s win “is a clear indication that the grassroots are rising up to make D.C. listen.”
Sasse focused on his conservative credentials, opposition to abortion, support for gun rights and goal of repealing and replacing the health care law.
In one 30-second ad, Sasse’s two young daughters, Alex and Corrie, talked about how much their dad opposed the Affordable Care Act. “He wants to destroy it,” said one daughter. “He despises it,” said the other.
However, Sasse advised former Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt’s firm as the group reached out to businesses and organizations in 2010 to explain and implement the new law. Osborn recently began running a 30-second TV ad linking Sasse to writings and speeches from several years earlier commenting on elements that would become part of the law firmly opposed by most Republicans.
Outside groups and the candidates have spent millions on the race in which the GOP winner is widely expected to prevail in November. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the party’s campaign operation, remained neutral.
The Tea Party movement has struggled in earlier contests, with their favored candidates losing to establishment favorites in Texas, North Carolina and Ohio.
Looking ahead to upcoming primaries, the Tea Party’s chances to upset incumbents have been diminishing in Kentucky, Kansas, Idaho and Mississippi.
In Nebraska’s GOP primary for governor, Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts narrowly defeated Attorney General Jon Bruning. Term limits prevented Republican Gov. Dave Heineman from running again.
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Tea Party-Backed Mooney Wins In W.Va. – The Hill
Former Maryland Republican Party Chairman Alex Mooney won the Republican nomination for West Virginia’s 2nd district Tuesday night, delivering the Tea Party a win.
Mooney was taking 33 percent support to 20 percent support each for former U.S. International Trade Commissioner Charlotte Lane and pharmacist Ken Reed when the Associated Press called the race.
Democrats believe Mooney’s victory gives them the best shot at picking up the seat, open thanks to Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-W.Va.) run for Senate.
Though she held the district for eight terms, it’s the least conservative of the state’s three districts and Democrats are enthusiastic about attorney Nick Casey, who easily won the party’s nomination Tuesday night.
Democrats believe the main attack Mooney’s opponents used against him in the primary – that he’s a political opportunist and carpetbagger, having moved to the district from Maryland to run after considering a run for former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s (R-Md.) seat last cycle – remains potent in the general.
And they see his conservative support, which helped him through the primary, as a liability in the general.
Lane was initially considered the frontrunner for the nomination, but a number of national conservative groups – including the Senate Conservatives Fund and Citizens United – backed Mooney and invested about $80,000 in ads boosting him in the final weeks of the race.
SCF executive director Matt Hoskins said the group spent $90,000 on the race and congratulated Mooney in a statement, pledging to help him win in November.
“Alex Mooney started out as the underdog, but won this race because he ran on conservative principles,” Hoskins said. “He will fight for common sense West Virginia values in Congress.”
Mooney had argued he was the true conservative in the race, touting his pro-gun, anti-abortion rights positions in his campaign ads.
The final advertising push from outside groups, along with Mooney’s more than 2-to-1 cash advantage over Lane, boosted his message in the final weeks and helped him overcome those carpetbagging attacks from his rivals.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee declared in a memo that their Democratic candidates are “poised to run winning races in every district in the state,” but West Virginia’s 2nd remains their best shot at a pickup this cycle.
In West Virginia’s 3rd district, they’ll be fighting hard to defend Rep. Nick Rahall, one of Democrats’ most vulnerable incumbents, who will face state Sen. Evan Jenkins in the general.
National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ian Prior declared Rahall’s primary would be the “last election he ever wins,” but Rahall did handily defeat his challenger, taking 65 percent of the vote with about two-thirds of the precincts reporting.
In West Virginia’s 1st district, Democrats are fronting state Auditor Glen Gainer, but he has a slim shot at taking down sophomore Rep. David McKinley (R).
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