In a major blow to former Republican state Treasurer Shane Osborn’s candidacy for Nebraska Senate, national conservative group FreedomWorks is withdrawing its endorsement and backing his main primary rival, Midland University President Ben Sasse, instead.
At issue, FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said in a statement, is the unspoken support Osborn is believed to have from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“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?” Kibbe asked.
“At this point, it is clear that Shane Osborn formed allegiances with Mitch McConnell and the K Street lobbying class. 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,” he added.
Tyler Grassmeyer, Sasse's campaign manager, said the campaign is "deeply grateful" for the group's support.
"FreedomWorks told us they've heard about our campaign from grassroots Nebraska conservatives. They've attended our anti-ObamaCare townhalls in droves, and have heard Ben forcefully make the case against ObamaCare for months," he added.
But Osborn said in a statement FreedomWorks' switch has "crystallized" the "contrast" in the race.
"I am the proven conservative candidate who will fight Washington, D.C. and Ben Sasse is the candidate of Washington, D.C. Sasse has garnered the support of Washington, D.C. special interest groups because of his long history living and working in the city," he said.
He added: “Nebraskans aren’t looking to Washington to choose their next Senator. The choice is clear for Nebraskans. I will remain focused on Nebraska voters and continue to discuss my plans to defend the Constitution and protect our conservative values.”
McConnell is reportedly opposed to Sasse’s candidacy, and the Washington Examiner http://washingtonexaminer.com/k-street-and-tea-party-in-nebraska-proxy-war/article/2542637
has reported that McConnell's former chief of staff is raising money for Osborn, and a group of lobbyists canceled a fundraiser for Sasse after McConnell's opposition to the candidate became evident.
Sasse now has the backing of nearly all the major national conservative groups, including the Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund. He's also drawn the support of conservative leaders ranging from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) to Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Osborn does have the backing of social conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly and the anti-abortion Concerned Women PAC, among others.
FreedomWorks initially supported Osborn out of concern that Sasse wouldn't do enough to fight ObamaCare if elected, due to his work on healthcare policy during the George W. Bush administration.
But Kibbe previously hinted that he'd be happy with either candidate, saying on Glenn Beck's radio show that conservatives enjoy a "win-win" scenario in the primary.
The most recent survey of the race, conducted by Breitbart News http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/11/Exclusive-Breitbart-News-Poll-Sasse-Surging-In-Wide-Open-GOP-Nebraska-Senate-Primary
and the Polling Company, showed Sasse down by 11 to Osborn, but he's gained ground since entering the race.
This post was corrected at 4:36 p.m. to clarify the extent of McConnell's involvement in the race.
Make up your mind Kibbe. Which one of these establishment RINOs are you backing? You want Sasse, the principal advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on policy development under Dubya "Part D" Bush and endorsed by Paul Ryan, or McConnell's newest pawn, Osbourn?
I think whoever Nebraska primary voters pick will be the next Senator from NE. Both guys are awesome. The fact that Sasse doesn't recognize FreedomWorks, SCF, Club for Growth and the Tea Party are more toxic than help is a little troubling, but a lot of people have not figured that out yet.
If Osbourn loses, it does give some glimmer of hope that the dream lives on for Kibbe Chocola Hoskins, so I'll be rooting for Osbourn.
If you want to judge what will be a factor check out their ads. Both spend time speaking into the camera.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MduMYPdq2hQ
Osbourn has crappy teeth. Because of this he has developed a forced smile much like McCain's grimace. Osbourn should avoid smiling with his mouth open. He has no charisma or presence. No passion.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTgiJT44-Eo
Sasse has charisma but comes off sinister and smarmy in his big twist around chair like Baron Silas Greenback. Servants of the people stand.
That makes them flawed humans. Other than that, both men will be fine Senators. Much better than any rat.http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/02/05/Ben-Sasse-Surges
On Feb 5th Breitbart reported Sasse Surged to a virtual tie in a Harper poll. http://www.conservativeintel.com/24-conservative-intel-poll-of-nesen/
Not sure 23.19%
On March 3rd Breitbart Sasse surged again. "Osborn, also the former State Treasurer, is ahead 35-24 percent, the poll found. 30 percent are undecided" http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/11/Exclusive-Breitbart-News-Poll-Sasse-Surging
That is some surge. Looks like The Hill only reads Breitbart headlines.
Here is how Breitbart comes up with the headline.
In a memo explaining the results, pollster Kellyanne Conway wrote Sasse is "poised to challenge the presumed frontrunner" because he polls better – 52-31 percent – with people who have an opinion about both candidates. Sasse also leads 40-32 percent among those who have merely heard of both candidates. Osborn has wider name recognition, allowing Sasse more room to grow his support.
So somehow that explains how Osbourn is +5 and Sasse is surging -5. Breitbart FreedomWorks SCF and CfG are drinking their own Koolaid. They think their Anti-Establishment schtick is popular. Osbourne ran and won a state wide election in 2006.
Kibbe's decision to jump ship could be due to this emerging scandal http://www.omaha.com/article/20140326/NEWS/140328844/1016
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Shane Osborn has issued a statement of regret over his handling of a disputed memo supporting his conduct as a Navy pilot during a 2001 incident that is at the center of his campaign.
The Omaha World-Herald reported Sunday that the unsigned memo, written last summer on Navy letterhead, was drafted for Osborn's campaign by a friend of his who worked in the Pentagon. Navy officials said they had no knowledge of it and could not vouch for the contents.
“This was a response to attacks against my record of service to our nation of which I am very proud,” Osborn said in his statement.
“While the facts in the memo are correct and it was intended to clarify the issue, the manner in which it was handled was regrettable,” the statement continued. “I take full responsibility.”