There isn't much suspense about which party the next senator from Nebraska will represent. The deep red state seems safe to elect a Republican in November. The drama was whether the GOP's nominee would be an former statewide elected official backed by the Washington establishment or a health care policy wonk beloved by the Tea Party. On Tuesday, the wonk won easily.
Ben Sasse, a college president, handily defeated his top opponent, former State Treasurer Shane Osborn, as well as dark horse millionaire Sid Dinsdale who seemed poised to slip into second place in the race as the returns came in Tuesday night. The AP called it the early. And with only 64% of precincts reporting with Sasse was way ahead at 48% with Dinsdale and Osborn closely bunched together at 23% and 21% respectively.
While Sasse committed to backing Mitch McConnell as the leader of the Senate Republican caucus if elected in recent days, he struck a more anti-establishment stance than Osborn, who was backed by outside groups connected with McConnell. Sasse leveraged endorsements by figures like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee to flaunt his conservative outsider credentials in a Nebraska primary electorate.
In a statement, Chris Chocola, the president of Club for Growth, the outside group that most strongly backed Sasse, congratulated the GOP nominee. Chocola said “Congratulations to Ben Sasse, who won a hard-fought primary by building his campaign on the simple idea that ObamaCare is a disaster that needs to be repealed. Ben clearly articulated a conservative vision to Nebraska voters who rewarded him with their votes" And, barring a near unprecedented upset, Sasse will be taking that conservative vision to Washington, D.C. next year.