(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
As Republicans sought to interpret Deb Fischer’s upset victory in Tuesday’s Nebraska Senate primary and what it portends for the 2012 elections, Sen. Mike Johanns (R) told Roll Call that the third-party groups who spent heavily to boost Don Stenberg are responsible for his last-place finish.
Johanns, a former Nebraska governor, said the Club for Growth’s television ad campaign that targeted frontrunner Jon Bruning, the state attorney general, was “tone deaf” and left Nebraska GOP primary voters with an overwhelmingly negative impression of Stenberg, the state treasurer. Johanns referred to Stenberg as a “true blue conservative” who has a solid base of support in Nebraska and should have finished with at least around 35 percent of the vote. Bruning, who fought back against with negative attacks of his own, was also damaged in the fray.
“In a state like Nebraska, when the dirt starts flying, those throwing the dirt are going to get dirty too. It not only cost Bruning, it cost Stenberg significantly,” Johanns said this morning in a telephone interview. “It was an error in strategy.”