Palin Evens Playing Field in Nebraska GOP Senate Primary
When former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed Nebraska Republican senate candidate Deb Fischer on Wednesday, Palin gave Fischer the name identification across the state that Fischer’s two opponents, attorney general Jon Bruning and treasurer Don Stenberg, had in spades from their previous 16 combined runs for statewide office.
This is the first attempt at seeking statewide office for Fischer, a 61-year-old state Senator who has not been a career politician, who needed Palin’s endorsement to level the playing field against her well-funded opponents.
Fishcer’s campaign manager Aaron Trost told Breitbart News that Palin’s endorsement had a “big impact on publicity” and would “help educate a lot of people who the true conservative reformer in the race is.”
Two recent polls show Bruning with the lead, with Fischer in second followed by Stenberg. In a poll commissioned by the Fischer campaign, Bruning led with 30 percent, followed by Fischer with 25.6 percent and Stenberg with 18 percent. Twenty four percent of those polled were still undecided. The primary is on Tuesday.
Fischer e-mailed Palin in December of 2011 while Kay Orr, the first female Republican governor ever to be elected and who is one of Fischer’s statewide co-chairs, also contacted Palin to ensure Fischer stayed on the former governor’s radar screen.
When Palin decided to endorse Fischer, Trost said it led to “an awesome day.”
“Gov. Palin has tremendous support in this state; there were a lot of people excited with the endorsement and wanted to get involved with the campaign,” Trost said, noting that there was a big surge in online contributions and phone calls in the office but would not disclose how much the campaign raised.
“Gov. Palin supporters are not only volunteers but they are workers; supporters of Gov. Palin are in the office every day, going door to door, really into running a grassroots campaign,” Trost said. “They are not into an establishment-type campaign.”
“I am writing to you as both a fan of your strong, conservative principles and as a fellow female Republican,” Fischer wrote Palin. “I have watched your career with respect as you take on tough issues, all while raising a family and serving your great state. Your career has inspired me and so many other female politicians who believe principles should be above politics.”
Palin wrote back in her endorsement:
Your efforts remind us of those our family put forth for Sarah’s races here in Alaska. Winning over voters through personal interactions is the way to go. People are tired of outside interests spending millions of dollars in political attack ads. We’re glad to see your grassroots efforts paying off!
We admire your conservative principles and know that you will not go to Washington to amass great wealth or power. You will go to Washington to serve the people of Nebraska, protect our Constitution and work for common sense solutions to help restore America.
Trost noted that Fischer’s strength in a potential general election matchup against Democrat Bob Kerrey would be the same as those she has against Stenberg and Bruning.
Fischer would be a “fresh face” with a reform-minded streak and plan that is reminiscent of Palin's work in Alaska.
Fischer released a "Reform Washington" plan that would ban various types of lobbying and insider trading, which Trost said was a “bold plan that’ll shake up the Senate’s usual course of business.”
Bruning has the money and much of the establishment support in this primary. Stenberg has the support of many conservatives and conservative groups from across the country, which have spent millions on his behalf.
Fischer knew she could not outspend Bruning and Stenberg, so Trost said the campaign focused on laying a grassroots foundation, hoping the campaign could catch fire in the end.
Trost said in primary elections, “a lot of voters start paying attention and making decision in the last few weeks, and we organized our campaign around that with a strong grassroots effort.”
Bruning’s large lead has been whittled in recent weeks as voters have begun to question his conservative credentials.
Ryan Hecker, the Chief Operating Officer of the influential conservative group FreedomWorks and treasurer of the group’s Super PAC, said Bruning has “major ethical questions tied to his candidacy” and said his group could not support “any candidate that repeatedly says he’s a conservative but supports the individual mandate, praises [Attorney General] Eric Holder and capitulates on conservative issues.”
Hecker’s group, FreedomWorks, strongly supports Stenberg, along with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund.
But Hecker said if the race came down to Bruning and Fischer, Fischer would be the more conservative and preferred candidate if Stenberg were to fade, which he hoped would not happen.
“Deb Fischer is a much better candidate than Jon Bruning,” Hecker told Breitbart News.