On Friday, FreedomWorks, the grassroots conservative group, pulled its endorsement in the Nebraska GOP Senate primary from Shane Osborn and gave it to conservative, anti-establishment candidate Ben Sasse, who has been surging as the anti-Obamacare candidate.
In one of the most competitive GOP Senate primaries, FreedomWorks made the switch nearly a week after former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed Sasse. FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said that after it became “clear that Shane Osborn formed allegiances with Mitch McConnell and the K Street lobbying class,” the group pulled its support.
“For us, that progression away from the grassroots has tipped the balance. FreedomWorks PAC has a responsibility to endorse the most reliable candidate for liberty, and after following the evolution of this primary, it’s clear that Ben Sasse is the man for the job,” Kibbe said in a statement. “Both Osborn and Sasse are great people, and this was not a decision taken lightly. The question at the heart of this decision is, who would caucus with the Freedom Caucus, and who would fall in line with the establishment?”
In her endorsement, Palin clearly stated that she believed Sasse would be someone who would not fall in line with the establishment. In fact, Sasse told Palin that he has “said from the very beginning of this campaign that the problem in D.C. is that we have a government of Democrats with big-government bad ideas and Republicans regularly with no ideas. That is not good enough.”
“We have got to be a party that sells the conservative vision of the future,” he added. “I have also said that the GOP establishment in this country does not understand that the house is on fire and we have to save this country – not tomorrow, or next year, or at some debt-crisis moment in five years, but now.”
Osborn has come under fire for reaching out to a friend to draft a memo praising his military service and for his ties to McConnell, who has clashed with Sasse after Sasse released a YouTube video that went viral in which he ripped McConnell and the GOP leadership in Washington. The video says these are treating the American people like “peasants” by not extending the same Obamacare waivers that special-interest groups and elected Representatives received. In the video, Sasse called on “every Republican in Washington, starting with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to show some actual leadership” in fighting against Obamacare.
Sasse also clashed with McConnell, who has a long history of feuding with the Senate Conservatives Fund, in a meeting in D.C. after the Senate Conservatives Fund backed Sasse.
Sasse, who has also been endorsed by the Club for Growth and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), then blasted the Obamacare rollout in an op-ed for Breitbart News last October in which he said that Obamacare was a “teachable moment” that conservatives had to use to “convey to the American people the disaster that’s about to hit them.”
“Then we must outline our vision detailing conservative, small-government, patient-centric solutions to fix our broken health care system,” he continued.
Palin, whose endorsement makes the most impact in GOP primaries, has moved the needle in Nebraska before, and this may be a sign that the momentum on the ground is shifting even more to Sasse.
As Breitbart News reported, “Palin proved how valuable her endorsement is in Nebraska during the 2012 election cycle:”
The Republican establishment spent millions backing Jon Bruning, while Washington’s conservative establishment, including FreedomWorks, spent millions backing Don Stenberg. But after Palin wrote a 135-word Facebook post to endorse Deb Fischer, the then-unknown candidate suddenly had “momentum, buzz, and name identification” and rocketed to the top of the polls en route to wins in the primary and general election.