A statewide officeholder hopes to make the move from Lincoln to Washington.
State Treasurer Don Stenberg wants to be the Republican nominee to challenge Democratic United States Senator Ben Nelson’s re-election, which he expects to be a difficult race.
“I think he’s going to take the approach that the only way he can win this is to beat up on whoever the Republican nominee turns out to be,” Stenberg tells Nebraska Radio Network. “So, unfortunately, I’m expecting Ben Nelson to run a very negative campaign.”
Stenberg claims he is the Republican candidate with solid conservative credentials. He touts his endorsement by FreedomWorks as evidence that he lays claim to Tea Party ideals, even though Republican primary opponent Jon Bruning has the endorsement of the Tea Party Express. Stenberg says he has cut the Treasurer’s office budget by 13% while claiming that Bruning has increased the budget of the Attorney General’s office, an office Stenberg previously held.
Stenberg says it’s important that a conservative take the seat in November of 2012.
“The Nebraska senate seat is going to be critical to making the numbers work to provide a conservative majority in the United States Senate,” according to Stenberg. “I think you’ll see a lot of national interest in the Nebraska Senate race.”
Stenberg expects Nelson’s vote in favor of national health care to be a very large issue in the campaign, but is quick to add it won’t be the only issue.
The Republican primary has tightened a bit of late. A public opinion poll conducted by Public Policy Polling indicates that Bruning’s once formidable lead has shrunk, though Bruning remains the clear front-runner. According to the poll, Brunning is favored by 37% of Nebraska’s Republican voters, down 10% from the previous poll. Stenberg comes in second at 16% with State Senator Deb Fischer of Valentine just trailing in third at 14%.
Stenberg lost to Nelson in 2000 in an open U. S. Senate race 51% to 49%.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50 mp3]