Skip to content

Posts from the ‘2012 U.S. Senate race’ Category


Fischer announces campaign team

Sen. Deb Fischer, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, announced some key members of her campaign team:

Deb Fischer

Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine

Rob Autry, Public Opinion Strategies/Pollster
Autry is a partner at Public Opinion Strategies, a nationally renowned Republican polling firm. POS has 20 U.S. Senators, five governors, and 70 members of Congress as clients. POS has a history of success in Nebraska, including polling for Gov. Dave Heineman, Sen. Mike Johanns, Sen. Chuck Hagel, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, Rep. Adrian Smith and Rep. Lee Terry.

Autry has managed nearly 3,000 quantitative and qualitative research projects for various Republican candidates, Republican Party organizations, ballot initiatives, trade associations and Fortune 500 companies.

Doug McAuliffe, Doug McAuliffe Strategic + Creative – Media Strategist

Doug McAullife is principal, strategist and ad maker for Doug McAuliffe Strategic + Creative. His commercials have won numerous awards and his creative expertise makes him one of the most sought after political media consultants in the country. Doug has helped win 27 U.S. Senate races, nine gubernatorial races, 15 Congressional campaigns, a presidential nomination, and a presidential re-election.

Doug served as media strategist for Mike Johanns’ successful U.S. Senate campaign and Sen. Chuck Hagel’s upset wins over Don Stenberg and Ben Nelson.

Aaron Trost, Deb Fischer for U.S. Senate – Campaign Manager

Trost will serve as campaign manager. Over the last nine years, Aaron has worked on numerous Republican campaigns as a staff member and political consultant. He recently worked as a Senior Associate for the Singularis Group, a political advertising firm. Aaron’s experience also includes managing and consulting on Sen. Jerry Moran’s successful U.S. Senate campaign and serving as a Regional Political Director for McCain-Palin 2008.

Brandon Winfrey, Winfrey and Company – PAC and National Fundraising
Winfrey will handle the campaign’s PAC and national fundraising. Since 1994, Winfrey has played an instrumental role in directing the fundraising efforts of candidates around the country. His client list includes Sen. Mike Johanns, Sen. Jerry Moran, Sen. Thad Cochran, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and Rep. Adrian Smith.

“I’m very excited to announce the team of experienced professionals who will assist my efforts to run a winning U.S. Senate campaign,” Fischer said in a press release. “My campaign team, coupled with our grassroots efforts across the state, will help present my vision for common-sense, conservative leadership to the voters of Nebraska.”


Republicans file complaint against Nelson, Dems

The Nebraska Republican Party has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson and the Nebraska Democratic State Central Committee alleging illegal spending practices between the two organizations.

U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson

The Federal Election Act of 1971 says the maximum coordinated spending limit between a political party committee and a Nebraska Senate candidate cannot exceed $240,600. However, according to public records, the NDSCC and Nelson have spent at least $458,625 in coordinated television campaign advertisements.

Federal law also states that communications paid for by a political party must be clearly disclaimed; yet Senator Nelson’s campaign ad omitted the word “Democratic” from its disclaimer in an attempt to mask the ad and the source of funding, Republicans say.

“In an attempt to cover-up his failed Washington record – which includes providing the 60th vote for ObamaCare and his critical support for the $825 billion stimulus – the NDSCC and Ben Nelson have engaged in a coordinated campaign that has surpassed the legal federal limit by at least $218,000,” said Nebraska Republican Party Chairman Mark Fahleson.

Despite all being paid for by the NDSCC, Senator Nelson’s four recent campaign ads identify three different sponsors: “Promise” and “Wrong Way” state that they are paid for by the “Nebraska Democratic Party.” “Skunk” states that it is paid for by the “Nebraska Democratic State Central Committee.”

The GOP claims the most egregious case is the “Nelson Ad” – backed by a $219,422 NDSCC media buy funded by the Democrats’ national campaign committee — which says it was paid for by the “Nebraska State Central Committee” – a name that wholly omits “Democrat” from the identification and masks the ad as being sponsored by a non-partisan, or even state-funded, entity.

“Nebraskans deserve to know the exact amount of illegal spending that has occurred by the NDSCC – and that Washington dollars paid for it – and why Ben Nelson is an active participant in this blatantly illegal act,” Fahleson said in a press release.

However, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party said the claim is without merit and he expects it to be dismissed.

“We’ve run issue ads like this in prior campaigns, and because they are issue ads, they are not subject to spending limits,” Brandon Lorenz said. “Protecting programs like Medicare is an issue we will continue to talk about because it’s a program thousands of Nebraskans depend upon.”

Read the full Complaint against Nelson here.


New poll shows Bruning still leads GOP pack, but support eroding

A new poll by Public Policy Polling shows Attorney General Jon Bruning still leads the Republican pack in the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson — but his support his eroded 10 percentage points since January.

Jon Bruning

The poll also showed Nebraskans would choose former Godfather’s pizzeria chairman Herman Cain as their Republican nominee for president right now, garnering the support of 27 percent of the people polled. He is followed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with 19 percent, Newt Gingrich with 12 percent, and then it’s a three-way tie between Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney and “someone else” — all with 8 percent.

Public Policy surveyed 400 Republican primary voters in Nebraska from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, and 37 percent of them said they’d vote for Bruning, followed by State Treasurer Don Stenberg with a distant 16 percent, Sen. Deb Fischer with 14 percent and Pat Flynn with 6 percent. Another 27 percent were undecided.

(I reported last night that Newt Gingrich was the GOP favorite, but he just had the highest favorabiity scores; I missed the next page of the poll, which asked who people would vote for.)


Bruning on Nelnet cabin: “Big deal”

Attorney General Jon Bruning is characterizing his decision to buy a $675,000 lake cabin with two Nelnet officials as no big deal — but a new poll indicates otherwise.

In a recent interview with KHAS-TV of Hastings, Bruning accused U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson of trying to get voters to focus on the fact that “my wife and I and two other couples own a lake house. Big deal, you know, it’s where I teach my kids to water ski, right. I mean it’s not unlike a lot of families in Nebraska. I love Nebraska. I’ve got a lake house in Nebraska. So what?”

Bruning also told the TV station all the negative publicity that has swirled around him in recent months has not hurt his polling numbers, that he’s still leading in “the most recent voters’ poll.” He’s probably referring to Public Policy Polling’s poll showing Bruning is still the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, but his support has slipped 10 percentage points since their last poll in January.

Bruning led the pack with 37 percent, followed by State Treasurer Don Stenberg with 16 percent, state Sen. Deb Fischer with 14 percent, and Pat Flynn with 6 percent. Stenberg’s standing dropped 3 points, while Fischer gained the most, jumping from 6 percent to 14 percent.

Public Policy’s analysis:

Bruning has had a lot of less than positive press coverage in recent days and it appears to be taking a toll on his image. His net favorability has declined 19 points over the course of this year. He was at +45 (57/12) in January but now he’s at just +26 (48/22). It’s definitely to Bruning’s advantage that he has three opponents rather than one. 37% of voters want him and 36% want someone else but since the ‘someone else’ is split three different ways it allows him to maintain a pretty healthy lead overall.

Stenberg interestingly has almost identical favorability numbers to Bruning at 46/22 but for whatever reason that’s not translating directly into votes for him. Although Stenberg has seemingly been trying to run to the front runner’s right, Bruning actually has his strongest numbers with voters describing themselves as ‘very conservative,’ at a 47-15 advantage. It’s moderates who split their votes most evenly. So at least at this point Bruning doesn’t appear to have a ‘Tea Party’ problem, although that could present itself further down the road.

The favorability numbers are troubling for Fischer: The survey of 400 Republican primary voters (taken Sept. 30 to Oct. 2) found 18 percent had an unfavorable view of Fischer, and 16 percent favorable, with a whopping 66 percent undecided. That would seem to indicate people don’t really know her.

However, State Democrats continue to pound away on Bruning and his Nelnet cabin, hoping to further weaken the frontrunner.

“If Jon Bruning thinks it’s no big deal to buy a $675,000 cabin and not list it as required, he’s been spending too much time out in the sun,” said Jim Rogers, executive director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. “Most Nebraskans don’t own $675,000 homes, much less cabins, and most Nebraskans that do own cabins don’t try to cover up their ownership.”

Last month, the Nebraska Democratic Party filed an ethics complaint with the Accountability and Disclosure Commission over Bruning’s failure to list the home on his statement of financial interests for three years. Dems have also questioned how Bruning tripled the value of his non-publicly traded assets since 2007 and has held positions on at least 24 different banks, private businesses and LLCs, not counting personal trusts and private foundations, while serving as attorney general.


Washington Post: Bruning’s “abrasive personal style” needs burnishing

Interesting analysis in the Washington Post about the hits Attorney General Jon Bruning has sustained in recent weeks.

The Fix blogger writes that the Nebraska Republican primary was once considered to be a coronation for Bruning in his bid to take U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson’s seat, but his recent missteps and revelations about his business dealings have put the party on hold.

“Nebraska political observers cite an abrasive personal style that has rubbed many Republicans the wrong way, and Bruning has suffered from a series of unhelpful headlines and gaffes on the campaign trail,” The Fix reports.

He reports on Bruning dumping his political consultant for a new one — as we told you last week — and hiring a second consultant. He goes on to write:

Those close to Bruning deny the moves constitute any kind of campaign shake-up, but they do acknowledge that it hasn’t been smooth sailing and say the candidate is leaning more on the advice of his new campaign apparatus.

They say they doubt the raccoon comment will hurt him in the long run, but acknowledge their early problems. “The [property] thing creates more of a bump in the road for him,” said a source close to the campaign. “I don’t think it’s a death blow, but it’s a difficulty that he’s going to have to deal with.”


Bruning fires his political consultant

A liberal blogger thinks so — and is reporting as much.

I wouldn’t think Kyle Michaelis would be the first to know if Attorney General Jon Bruning really fired his political consultant — but then again, Michaelis might be the first to report such a thing, since bloggers don’t have to name their sources and all.

Michaelis is reporting that “the word in local political circles” is that Bruning has canned San Francisco-based Bob Wickers of Dresner Wickers & Associates — Bruning’s consultant since 2001. He theorizes that this is a response to the withering publicity Bruning has endured for, oh, about six weeks now.

I asked around, and I’m told Wickers has been replaced with Larry McCarthy — which Politico calls “the GOP’s leading practitioner of the art of the attack ad.” This is the guy who made his name by being the architect behind the 1988 Willie Horton ad that helped defeat Michael Dukakis, according to Politico.

So fasten your seatbelts, people — this campaign may get ugly. I mean uglier.


You knew raccoon bumper stickers were coming

Naturally, since Attorney General Jon Bruning compared welfare recipients to scavenging raccoons and then disclosed that he has become a multimillionaire since taking public office about 15 years ago, you had to expect bumper stickers to ensue.

And here they are:

State Democrats are giving them away on this website.


Dems say Bruning failed to disclose Nelnet cabin to state

The state Democratic Party filed a complaint today alleging Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Jon Bruning failed to properly disclose his part ownership of a $675,000 Ashland cabin to the state.

Jon Bruning

Office holders and candidates must disclose ownership of real estate to the state Accountability & Disclosure Commission — and Bruning has not reported his ownership of a cabin he bought with two Nelnet executives in 2008 on any of the annual A&D reports he must file. However, he did list the LLC that he and the Nelnet executives formed to buy the property in 2008 and 2010, but not 2009.

The purchase of the cabin is a “clear conflict of interest” — a year prior, Bruning tried to waive a $1 million settlement with Nelnet, but backed down after getting heat because he received campaign contributions from the Lincoln student loan company and its administrators — said Brandon Lorenz, communications director for the state Democratic Party. He alleged that Bruning was either negligent or trying to cover up the cabin purchase by not listing it on the state financial disclosure forms.

The Democrats also said Bruning failed to list the addresses of businesses he is associated with and sources of any income he earns on the A&D forms.

Bruning has been under scrutiny in recent weeks since his federal financial disclosure forms revealed he has become a multimillionaire since beginning his political career about 15 years ago.

Bruning’s campaign manager, Trent Fellers, attended the Democrats’ press conference this morning and afterward said it was nothing more than U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson and the Democrats trying to divert attention from his votes on “big government spending and Obamacare.” He noted that Nelson is spending $200,000 on TV advertising already — 14 months before he is up for re-election.

“I think it just goes to show how scared they are to lose this race,” Fellers said.


And now it’s Ben’s turn to be bashed

Apparently tiring of all the negative press swirling around one of their top candidates for the U.S. Senate, the Nebraska Republican Party put out this video today (only online, for now):

Obviously they think they can ride the Cornhusker Kickback issue all the way to Congress. Do you think they’re right?


Governor declines to defend Bruning

Vodpod videos no longer available.

A Nebraska Watchdog reporter asked Gov. Dave Heineman what he thought of the whole Jon Bruning brouhaha — and Heineman was surprisingly silent about whether he thinks Bruning is being unfairly maligned.

You know, the brouhaha about how our attorney general somehow has gone from selling off cars and commuting with his wife in an old car to becoming a public servant who now, about 15 years later, reports between $13 million and $61 million in assets on a form required for U.S. Senate candidates. And the one where Bruning decided it was OK to buy a $675,000 “cabin” with two Nelnet executives just a year after getting into hot water for trying to waive a $1 million settlement with Nelnet — whose execs just so happened to have made tidy contributions to his campaign.

The Watchdog reporter asked Heineman whether Bruning has “been on the up and up” — and you might expect Bruning’s fellow Republican to vouch for him, but he did not. Instead, he said, “That’s for the voters ultimately to decide. That’s what primaries are all about. I think there’s going to be a healthy discussion and there should be.”


Now I know Bruning endorsed Tom Osborne for governor rather than Heineman, but still.

This story just isn’t going away quietly, is it? Today, the Lincoln Journal Star — which has gotten slaughtered by the Omaha World-Herald on this story — did some cleanup by interviewing Bruning about the whole thing. Interestingly, Bruning’s take was that his wealth has been exaggerated and his net worth is probably closer to $3 million to $4 million.

Financial disclosure forms he filled out list his assets as between $13 million and $61 million — but he also listed $7 million to $35 million in liabilities.

%d bloggers like this: