Kerrey challenges Fischer to oppose super PACs

Nebraska race could mimic Mass.

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Super PAC spending could get the boot from the closely watched Nebraska Senate contest.

Democrat Bob Kerrey has challenged Republican rival Deb Fischer to sign an agreement opposing all super PAC spending in the state, following an example set earlier this year in Massachusetts.

“I propose that we sign an agreement to vigorously oppose any and all such spending from now until Nov. 6,” Mr. Kerrey said in a letter to Ms. Fischer on Monday. “Our bipartisan agreement would have a very positive impact and send a wonderful signal to the nation about our values.”

Republican Scott P. Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren have already agreed to repudiate all super PAC-funded ads from the Massachusetts airwaves, even implementing a penalty if any super PAC runs an ad. If a super PAC airs a pro-Scott Brown ad, for example, the Brown campaign will have to donate 50 percent of the cost of the ad to a charity of the Warren campaign’s choice.

Mr. Kerrey hopes for a similar penalty in Nebraska, though is open to negotiating the specifics of the deal, campaign spokesman Chris Triebsch said.

The Kerrey camp’s request comes on the heels of an interview in which Ms. Fischer bashed the influence of super PACs in American politics, but did not explicitly ask them to stay out of the state.

“It makes it difficult to run the campaign I want to run when you have these outside groups coming in,” she said in an interview with a Nebraska television station. “I’d like to see [that money] spent on something that’s going to help the future of our state, that’s going to help the future of our country, on education, on public safety, on infrastructure, on helping to grow businesses.”

Mr. Kerrey immediately pounced on those comments, citing them as evidence that both candidates want to see the influence of super PACs lessened in the Cornhusker State.

Fischer campaign spokesman Daniel Keylin disputed that characterization, claiming that Mr. Kerrey has changed his own position on PACs for political benefit.

Ms. Fischer “has never said she opposed super PAC spending,” Mr. Keylin said on Monday. “Bob Kerrey has flip-flopped on every issue you can think of. Now you can add super PACs to the list.”

Ms. Fischer has yet to see the Kerrey letter, Mr. Keylin added.

In an interview with the online magazine Slate last month, Mr. Kerrey bemoaned the left’s inability to keep up with outside spending by conservative super PACs such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS. But he stopped short of calling for Democrat-backed super PACs to intervene in the Nebraska race, which has seen Crossroads pour in at least $1 million for anti-Kerrey commercials.

“How pathetic that Fischer would attempt to use Kerrey’s comments, reflecting the current sad reality, as an excuse not to act,” Kerrey campaign manager Paul Johnson said in a statement. “Nebraskans deserve better.”

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