A novice Republican running in a rural state has shattered fundraising records campaigning as the “anti-Obamacare candidate.” In his first race for public office, Ben Sasse has raised nearly $750,000 in just eight weeks of the first quarter of his nascent candidacy, according to records being filed with the Federal Election Commission.
The massive haul highlights how lucrative campaigning against Obamacare can be for Republicans. It also underscores how deeply motivated conservative voters are to see that the sprawling healthcare law be killed.
A college president in his hometown of Fremont, Nebraska, Sasse is a newcomer to politics, but he has spent much of the past decade working on healthcare issues. As a top advisor to President Bush’s Health Secretary, Sasse worked to cut red tape and pushed market-based solutions over government mandates. Sasse also spent several years traveling the country giving speeches and advising companies about the dangers of Obamacare and how it will hike costs, constrict innovation, and ultimately provide terrible health care.
“I am the anti-Obamacare candidate,” Sasse said cheerfully. “Not only have I read the 2,300-page bill, I have actually spent years studying it and I understand just how devastating this will be to American businesses, families and taxpayers.”
It was Sasse’s health care expertise and his outspoken opposition to Obamacare that inspired former Nebraska GOP chairman Mark Fahleson to draft Sasse to run for the open seat left by Sen. Mike Johann’s retirement.
“2014 and probably 2016 will be about one thing more than anything else,” Fahleson said. “It will be about Obamacare and the false promises and reckless entitlement spending that are set to destroy this country. And I don’t know anybody who knows more about it and is more honest about the problems of Obamacare than Ben.”
Sasse’s campaign comes just as the crusade against Obamacare has hit a fevered pitch in Washington.
“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has finally shown the Republican establishment in Washington just how fed up voters are with the federal government and the notion that bureaucrats know what is best for patients,” said one political consultant who advised the Cruz campaign. “That’s why a guy knowledgeable about healthcare like Ben Sasse being in the Senate would be the most destructive thing to ever hit Obamacare.”
Sasse’s cash haul of nearly $750,000 from individual donors in his first quarter breaks Nebraska’s previous record of $526,000 from individual donors, set in 2007 by Johanns while he was sitting U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
Shane Osborn, former state treasurer who has been running for the senate seat for six months, raised just $234,000 in his first quarter, according to FEC records.