Open Thread: Reconciliation in Nebraska

It's become quite a bit of a refrain among liberal journalists that nefarious conservatives are unwilling to compromise and unite with more moderate GOPers in order to "get things done," yet in many cases, the very opposite is true. In several recent elections, conservative unknowns have scored the primary victory (think Sharron Angle) and gone on to receive only tepid establishment support despite calls for "unity." That does not appear to be happening in the state of Nebraska after Deb Fischer defeated two better known candidates, Jon Bruning and Don Stenberg, to receive the Republican nomination for that state's federal Senate race.

Instead of whining like Indiana Republican Dick Lugar did after he went down in defeat, Bruning and Stenberg are banding together to support Fischer's candidacy:

Attorney General Jon Bruning and State Treasurer Don Stenberg stood behind state Sen. Deb Fischer as she accepted kudos for her big upset Tuesday night in the U.S. Senate primary and vowed to defeat Democrat Bob Kerrey in November

Republican Party Chairman Mark Fahleson acknowledged the rough campaign, but said primary battles prepare candidates for the bigger battle ahead.

“Republicans believe that competition is a good thing; it makes us better,” he said.

GOP headquarters was filled with public and party officials such as Speaker Mike Flood, who supported Bruning. Also there: national committeeman Pete Ricketts, whose father bankrolled a last-minute blitz of TV ads blasting Bruning and boosting Fischer. And there was Gov. Dave Heineman, who didn’t endorse anyone.

Heineman said he didn’t endorse a candidate in the U.S. Senate race because Stenberg, Bruning and Fischer are “three very good friends” and he wanted to be in a position to unite the candidates and party “so we can go forward to defeat Bob Kerrey in November.”

Bruning and Fischer both looked bleary-eyed and even teary-eyed at times during the press conference – with Bruning looking off to the side during most of the press conference, avoiding eye contact with the roomful of observers and reporters. He and Fischer embraced at one point. Asked what he thought of the election results, he declined to comment, saying everything was water under the bridge and “This is Deb’s day.”

“I’m 100 percent behind her,” Bruning said. “This is about how we can get together and beat Bob Kerrey.”

With much-lower name recognition than Kerrey, Fischer has her work cut out for her. As it stands, this is a seat that the GOP has a chance to flip to its count, however.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013