Skip to comments.Mike Johanns: Club for Growth Sank Don Stenberg
Posted on 05/16/2012 11:30:04 AM PDT by SharpRightTurn
As Republicans sought to interpret Deb Fischers upset victory in Tuesdays Nebraska Senate primary and what it portends for the 2012 elections, Sen. Mike Johanns (R) told Roll Call that the third-party groups who spent heavily to boost Don Stenberg are responsible for his last-place finish.
Johanns, a former Nebraska governor, said the Club for Growths television ad campaign that targeted frontrunner Jon Bruning, the state attorney general, was tone deaf and left Nebraska GOP primary voters with an overwhelmingly negative impression of Stenberg, the state treasurer. Johanns referred to Stenberg as a true blue conservative who has a solid base of support in Nebraska and should have finished with at least around 35 percent of the vote. Bruning, who fought back against with negative attacks of his own, was also damaged in the fray.
In a state like Nebraska, when the dirt starts flying, those throwing the dirt are going to get dirty too. It not only cost Bruning, it cost Stenberg significantly, Johanns said this morning in a telephone interview. It was an error in strategy.
Johanns said Stenbergs outside support damaged his candidacy such that even the extensive positive ad campaign run on his behalf by Sen. Jim DeMints (R-S.C.) Senate Conservatives Fund was viewed by voters as being a part of the negative air war run to damage Bruning, who finished second in the three-way contest. Johanns said Stenberg stalled, and then his numbers started to go backward from the moment the Club for Growth and other outside groups entered the race.
Nebraskas junior Senator expressed sympathy for Stenberg and dismissed claims by the club made in a statement released following Fischers victory that it succeeded in the Cornhusker State primary because defeating Bruning was its main goal. In a statement, Club for Growth President Chris Chocola congratulated Fischer for defeating Bruning but made no mention of Stenberg.
I feel bad for Don because he is a good guy that worked hard and beat his brains out trying to put this Senate race together. But at the end of the day I really think [the outside groups] hurt, Johanns said. The club came to Nebraska to elect Don Stenberg. Deb Fischer wasnt on the radar screen with them. For them to argue that this was about Bruning is to rewrite recent history.
Similar to Fischer, Johanns scored an upset victory in the 1998 gubernatorial primary when he surged from third place to first in the campaigns waning days. Although some are crediting 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palins late endorsement for Fischers upset, Johanns said the state Senator deserves credit for her victory. Johanns said Fischer stayed out of the Bruning-Stenberg fight and ran a positive campaign, and she was rewarded. Additionally, Johanns said, she assembled a cadre of supporters that included respected Nebraska Republicans with years of political experience in the state and she campaigned hard.
Johanns said Fischer comes from a respected ranching family, which he said served her well in the campaign despite being perceived in some quarters as the least conservative of the three primary candidates. However, Fischer won at least 75 of Nebraskas 93 counties and cleaned up in the states rural counties that are home to some of the states most conservative voters.
I would not classify her as tea party, Johanns said. She is a practical, common-sense conservative and that is very typical of Nebraska. I think youre going to find her to be someone who can work with anybody but is very firm in her convictions. Deb is her own person.
Johanns described Fischer as someone who is as comfortable in blue jeans as a pant suit in the Legislature and predicted that her Democratic opponent, former Sen. Bob Kerrey, would lose to her in November. Johanns said Kerrey is on the wrong side of too many issues and would be weighed down by President Barack Obama, who he predicted would lose Nebraska by 15 to 20 points. Meanwhile, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already attacked Fischer for voting in the Legislature to support a gas tax increase.
I would call Bob a friend. But my goodness, setting aside New York and where hes lived, he supports cap and trade, believes the health care bill did not go far enough and voted five times to uphold partial-birth abortion, Johanns said. I dont know where Bob goes.
It looks like Stenberg got caught in the crossfire. I had hoped he would take it since he is solid on every issue I've seen. Still, I'm mollified that Fischer beat Bruning--one more establishment party candidates down--many more to go.
Johanns had better be taking notes, he COULD be NEXT!
This is another blow to the GOP establishment.
yes, but is it a blow for the GOP’s chances for taking back the senate?? Is Fischer a good candidate??? or chum for the rats like a few of the senate candidates on the ‘10 ticket???
I have no idea, that’s why i ask.....
“Johanns had better be taking notes, he COULD be NEXT!”
Frankly, I had never heard of him before reading this article, so obviously I don’t know anything about him. Sounds like he thought the Jim DeMint efforts to be helpful but the Club for Growth ads to have hurt Stenberg.
“This is another blow to the GOP establishment.”
Lugar, and then Bruning.
I hope this gives momentum to Cruz, Liljenquist, and others.
Polls from earlier in the year would indicate not:
Rasmussen - Mar. 5 - Fischer 46%, Kerrey 34%
PPP - Mar. 22-25 - Fischer 48% Kerrey 38%
In addition, registered Nebraska Republicans outnumber Democrats significantly.
A leftwingtard didn't walk in and steal the race by getting his cronies to keep the opposition off the ticket.
See, this is the way to do it!
well i hope you and the polls are correct....
Fischer's nomination seems to be a good outcome in the end.
You took the words right out of my mouth. Johanns has been in there for a while and has not done anything substantial. He may find out the hard way that Nebraskans have had enough of the inaction and are starting to put some real conservatives in the game. My only fear is that some moderates supported Bruning and it would have given him and edge over Kerrey the carpetbagger in the general election.
“I’m not terribly impressed with some of CFG’s strategic choices in recent elections, and I find Johanns’ insights fairly accurate.”
I’ve admired how the CFG has jumped into a number of races and pushed a pro-growth conservative ahead. Not being in Nebraska, I have no idea what their ads were like against Bruning but, if Johanns is correct, they must have backfired on Stenberg somewhat. I agree that it is an interesting analysis.
“Maybe I’m ill informed, but I never heard of Fischer, and that may have been her chief virtue.”
Same here. I think she was a state legislator and, not being a Nebraskan, I was not familiar with her either. I hope she will be a solid conservative and not be co-opted by Mitch McConnell and the rest of the e-types.
“Johanns like Heinemann helped stop Keystone, so I don’t listen to anything he has to say anymore.”
I was not aware of that, but then I suppose I’m the uninformed one as I was not familiar with Johanns.
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