Local Nebraska Tea Party Leaders Blast National Organizations for Endorsing Ben Sasse

Local Nebraska Tea Party Leaders Blast National Organizations for Endorsing Ben Sasse

52 local Tea Party activists from Nebraska have signed a letter objecting to the national organizations who have endorsed Ben Sasse in the Nebraska Republican Senate primary, prompting FreedomWorks to fire back that the letter is a ploy from a rival candidate.

“We find the endorsement of Ben Sasse and the claim of widespread support by Tea Party activists to be presupposed and false and we do not support him,” they wrote in the letter, which was dated Tuesday.

“We’re taking this opportunity to set the record straight,” the local Tea Party leaders added, noting that in spite of a recent “barrage of radio, TV and direct mail ads from national Washington DC based PAC organizations [that] have swept Nebraska like a plague of locust. . . Ben Sasse is absolutely NOT the conservative solution Nebraska needs to decrease Washington DC’s power.”

“Ben Sasse for US Senate is NOT the choice of conservative, libertarian, and tea party movement activists and group leaders in Nebraska. We were not consulted, polled, or contacted by these Washington DC groups such as FreedomWorks has claimed,” the letter says.

Sasse had previously been endorsed by Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund and Sarah Palin.

The local Nebraska Tea Party activists also criticized Washington, D.C. based groups in general, and singled out FreedomWorks, which recently switched its endorsement from Osborn to Sasse, specifically. “We are not million dollar Washington DC special interest groups with strong ties to Capitol Hill. We are simply Nebraskans who are fed up with the increasing scope of government in our lives, and we will continue to organize our message of limited government principles out to voters,” the letter says.

Jackie Bodnar, director of communications for FreedomWorks, told Breitbart News on Wednesday “it’s pretty clear this petition is an effort orchestrated by the Osborn campaign, and I can understand why. But it’s interesting, the Shane Osborn camp didn’t think an endorsement from FreedomWorks was a ‘plague of locusts’ when he traveled around the state bragging about it every day.”

Bodnar added “[w]e [at FreedomWorks] appreciate the feedback and the input from these 52 tea party activists. But for every 50-person petition, there are thousands of conservatives, libertarians and tea party leaders who believe that Ben Sasse is the strongest choice in the Nebraska Senate primary. They have asked for our help, and we plan to continue empowering those volunteers on the ground with resources and materials as best we can.”

FreedomWorks switched its endorsement from Shane Osborn to Ben Sasse on March 28, four days after the Omaha World-Herald reported on March 24 that a memo circulated by the Osborn campaign to explain a 2001 incident in which then-active duty Navy pilot Osborn landed a plane in Chinese territory was not an official Navy document.

The World-Herald reported that an “unsigned memo . . .written Aug. 8, 2013, on Navy letterhead . . . [which] explains that Osborn’s plane was authorized to land on China’s Hainan island ‘due to the extreme circumstances and condition of this aircraft’ . . .was not authorized by the Navy, or vetted through normal channels, and was written as a favor to Osborn by a Navy buddy working at the Pentagon.

Bonnet, one of the letter’s 52 signatories, found fault with Bodnar’s claim that thousands of local Nebraska Tea Party activists support Sasse.

“I would challenge them to produce the list and prove to us who these people are and what they’ve done in our state to further the conservative or Tea Party movement,” he said.

On Wednesday, Rasmussen Reports released some partial results of a recent poll taken of the Nebraska Senate race. “Leading Republican hopefuls Shane Osborn and Ben Sasse are well ahead of their Democratic opponent in Nebraska’s U.S. Senate race, but Sasse runs stronger among both GOP voters and all voters in the state,” the release said.

Rasmussen, which has recently begun the practice of releasing general election polling data results featuring only one candidate from each party and withholding the results of the Republican or Democratic primary polls, reported that “[a] new Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Nebraska Voters finds [Republican] Sasse with 52% support, while [Democrat] David Domina picks up 27% of the vote.”

Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, the Super PAC of Tea Party Patriots, is one national group that has not announced an endorsement in the Nebraska race.

Jenny Beth Martin, the president of the group, said the organization closely monitors the views of local activists before making an endorsement. “If the local supporters are sharply divided, then we are not making an endorsement,” Martin said. 

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