Nebraska GOP Senate primary shapes as tea party versus the establishment

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In a week’s time, the Republican Party may have its answer on which direction to take in 2014 and 2016 elections — the path toward the tea party or the one toward establishment conservatism.

Nebraska’s primary, pitting a heavily backed GOP establishment type — Ben Sasse, Midland University president — against a tea party favorite and one-time frontrunner, Shane Osborn, is being seen as a bellwether of sorts for 2014 and 2016.

A win by Mr. Sasse would come as a reality slap to tea party activists who hold hope to the idea of taking over the Republican Party and giving the boot to more establishment candidates and incumbents, The Hill reported.

Mr. Osborn once held a comfortable lead in the polls, but that majority shrank in recent weeks — and that’s led his campaign to ratchet up the negative ads against Mr. Sasse, The Hill reported.

Osborn’s going to get a boost from the fact that he’s the only one that served his country [in the Navy],” said Lou Ann Linehan, the former chief of staff for ex-Sen. Chuck Hagel, in The Hill. “Ben Sasse is a smart guy who’s run a very well-organized, volunteer-based campaign.”

The main issue in the campaign seems to be which candidate is the strongest voice of opposition on Obamacare — and which can actually get the repeal job done on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Sasse’s numbers have been buoyed in recent weeks because he’s won favor from several formidable national conservative groups. For example, FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said his group at first supported Mr. Osborn but just switched alliance to Mr. Sasse.

The primary is next Tuesday.

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