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The Banker Sneaking Up on the Republicans Running for Senate in Nebraska

After lingering in third place in polls for months, Sid Dinsdale is picking up steam while his two top opponents have attacked each other and could become the Republican nominee on Tuesday.

Nati Harnik/AP

A dark horse may emerge in next week’s ferocious Republican Senate primary in Nebraska. While the bruising battle between establishment darling Shane Osborn and Tea Party favorite Ben Sasse has featured tough negative ads largely funded by outside groups, banker Sid Dinsdale has slipped through the pack to make the race a virtual three-way tie. Already, outside groups like the Club For Growth are turning their fire on Dinsdale, as the self-funding businessman moves up in the polls.

Dinsdale outlined his policy priorities in a March interview with The Daily Beast and noted that what distinguishes him from the other candidates wasn’t ideology but life experience. He touted that he had never served in government and that he had a “much longer wider deeper resume” than other candidates. He noted his background in community banking as well as his “deep involvement in agriculture across the state.” Instead, Dinsdale saw himself as a citizen legislator who “wouldn’t be running if Obamacare was working, if the balance sheet of our country was in great shape or if we had great leadership in the White House or in Congress.”

Though, on the subject of congressional leadership, in a statement that may comfort some Tea Partiers while causing some troubles inside the Beltway, Dinsdale didn’t have an answer as to whether he’d support Mitch McConnell to lead Senate Republicans again if he was elected. “I haven’t really given that specific situation thought,” he said.

Dinsdale talked about immigration and reminisced about a trip “down to the border” where he “went to Nogales.” He described being appalled at the level of border security, while there was an “18-foot high fence” in town, once you travelled three or four miles outside into the desert, the fence stops and instead becomes a barrier of fence posts with Union Pacific rails tack welded to them. Dinsdale was shocked and noted “you can just crawl right under” while noting that he did go so far as to stick his foot under the barrier and into Mexico. If elected, his first goal for immigration would be to “build that darn fence.” Dinsdale also opposed a path to citizenship for undocumented aliens currently in the country. I “don’t want to send ‘em back, doesn’t conjure up very good pictures for the United States,” he said. “But I’m not for amnesty.”

On foreign policy, Dinsdale saw the crisis in the Ukraine as the result of a weak president and weak foreign policy. He mourned that “we got a community organizer up against the former head of the KGB” and felt terrible for the Ukrainian people as a result. While he thought Obama “was over his head,” Dinsdale pushed for “peace through strength, like what Reagan had.” At the time of the interview in March, the Republican candidate thought the situation had “echoes of 1938.”

On domestic policy, Dinsdale said “this central planning is driving me crazy” and pushed for more vocational training, while believing the key to economic success was “less government interference, not more.”

With Election Day approaching, Dinsdale, who has lent his campaign $1 million seems poised to follow in the footsteps of incumbent Senator Deb Fischer, who won her primary in 2012 when two other candidates self-destructed in an establishment v. Tea Party fight. The question is whether the banker, after lagging in the polls for months, can pull off a surprise win in the home stretch.