November Races Take Shape

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With the dust settling on the Nebraska Primary, the races are set and the candidates are taking aim at November. The analysts are sizing up what happened and what's likely to happen next.

Nebraska Republicans joined forces Wednesday in a push for unity and a drive to November.

The morning after heated races for governor and U.S. Senate, the candidates met at the Republican headquarters in Lincoln for some fence-mending in the wake of the primary skirmish.

GOP gubernatorial nominee Pete Ricketts took to the podium saying that now is the time for the party to work together before the November general election.

He said, “Now we have the task ahead of us of uniting the Republican Party and working toward this fall's elections. And we've got to talk about the things that are going to be important to the people here in the state. It's going to be about improving education outcomes for all of our kids, growing the economy, especially in agriculture and manufacturing and creating more and better paying jobs here in the state."

Governor Dave Heineman said the competition will help strengthen the party despite many of the candidates being disappointed about last night's outcomes.

One of the candidates looking for a boost in the next round is District Two Congressman Lee Terry. He outspent Dan Frei 20-1 and won by fewer than 3,000 votes - a 53 percent to 47 percent victory. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called the win, "shockingly narrow."

Terry will take on State Senator Brad Ashford in the general election. Because of Terry's weaker than expected finish, some experts believe this race may be targeted by national democrats.

UNO Political Science Chair Randy Adkins said, “I think the Democrats have fielded a pretty good field of candidates. The question is: can they raise the money and can they keep voter interest for the next three or four months?"

Outside money will again likely play a big role in all the races.

Sarah Palin campaigned for Pete Ricketts and Ben Sasse as did Ted Cruz. Both Palin and Cruz are aligned with the Tea Party.

The Tea Party Express hailed Sasse's victory saying, "pundits don't understand... the power of the grassroots and the broad appeal of the Tea Party message."

Were the wins an indictment of the Republican establishment?

Adkins said, "There are people at the national level who will look back at this and say this is a reflection of the Tea Party movement but there are just as many examples where the Tea Party has lost in this election season. So they can claim credit but I don't think the Nebraska voters are thinking about it that way."

Adkins said it still comes down to the campaign and making politics local. In fact, even though millions of dollars came in from the outside to support Ben Sasse, Adkins said we shouldn't read too much into that.

Sasse said, "I think it's a little overblown. We're grateful for all the Tea Party support we're getting but from the very beginning of the race we said we want everybody. We want to grow the future. We want to grow the conservative movement."

While Sasse touts that his campaign stayed positive, outside money from interest groups hammered his opponents and one of his key supporters thinks the rules should be changed.

Former Nebraska Governor Kay Orr said, "I would like the federal government to change the rules so that the third parties have to be upfront and reveal who is making contributions. It's just the state of where we are."

Sasse's November opponent is Omaha attorney Dave Domina. He spent much of the day on the road in South Sioux City. As for his plans now, he said, “My agenda is to serve the people of Nebraska. My agenda is not to serve the people who support and fund the Tea Party."

Sasse won all but one county. Many candidates we've talked with say the outside money doesn't make them beholden to anyone in particular but Democrats aren’t buying the argument.

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