A Tea Party Test In Nebraska

May 13, 2014 9:07am

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)

NOTABLES

  • ANOTHER TUESDAY, ANOTHER PRIMARY DAY: Nebraska and West Virginia voters go to the polls today. The key race today is the GOP Senate primary in Nebraska and it is the tea party’s best shot at victory, but it’s not exactly a clear tea party vs. establishment brawl as we saw last week in North Carolina, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. Of course, it is still a brawl, a three-way fight that has seen outside money pouring in and big name endorsements all around. There is also a gubernatorial race in that state that sees a re-match of sorts as well as a seven way battle in West Virginia. Here are the top primary races being held today and why they matter: http://abcn.ws/1lredQY
  • THE TEA PARTY’S BEST SHOT: The Senate GOP primary in Nebraska to replace retiring Sen. Mike Johanns is one of — if not the — best shot for victory for the tea party in this election cycle. But the tea party candidate, Midland University President Ben Sasse, backed by both Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz, is not your typical anti-establishment choice, WALSHE notes. Sasse seems to have the momentum, but he’s facing off against two candidates in a three-way battle that could really go in any direction. Pinnacle Bank Chairman Sid Dinsdale, who has partially self-funded his campaign, was seen until recently as the other candidate to Sasse and State Treasurer Shane Osborn, but he has seen a recent surge of momentum as Sasse and Osborn have entered in to an ugly intra-party civil war with money on both sides pouring in and paying for nasty ads. It’s allowed the candidates to try and stay above the fighting, but could be helping Dinsdale if it turns off voters. If it sounds familiar this is exactly what happened in 2012 when Deb Fischer surged from outsider status to victor. http://abcn.ws/1lredQY

 

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: The GOP primary in Nebraska today won’t influence the balance of power in the Senate, but that doesn’t mean the outcome doesn’t have big implications. If Republicans win control of the Senate, what kind of majority will it be? Will Mitch McConnell (or whoever is wearing the majority leader’s hat) be able to round up enough Republican support for critical measures next year like the budget and raising the debt ceiling? How strong of a grip will outside forces like the Club for Growth hold? And can a candidate with the group’s backing ultimately become his own man in the Senate or is he forever beholden? Those are the questions beneath the surface in the Senate race in Nebraska and a handful of other red-state primaries to come.  Ben Sasse is the favorite to win today, even though several respected Republicans in the state have openly worried whether he would vote the interests of Nebraska or follow the lead of his out-of-state benefactors. He would be the first, and possibly only, victory for the Senate Conservatives Fund. McConnell tried to drive a stake through the group and has largely been successful.  Sasse, a veteran of the Bush administration who has proudly worn the Tea Party hat during the primaries, would give the SCF a trophy. But would he give them a Senate seat or be able to maintain the state’s long tradition of being a conservative, yet independent, senator?

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: He says he’s no politician, but former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner mixes it up with a few – in his own style, of course. Among the striking anecdotes in his new book are his tangles with now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren. As documented by The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser, Rahm Emanuel fretted that White House aides were spending too much time on her and the possibility of appointing her to head the Consumer Protection Finance Bureau. And, as Geithner writes when it comes to her views of Wall Street regulation: “I had a complicated relationship with Warren.” Count Geithner as a major figure who counters the Warren view of what had to and has to be done. “I have a lot of respect for her- I think she’s a very talented person,” Geithner told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” yesterday. “But this general view that what it takes to put out a financial crisis – and it’s a mistaken view – is that you let the fire burn, you should worry about putting people in jail. … If you do that, like we did in the Great Depression, you cause amazing damage.”

 

BUZZ

CLAY AIKEN’S OPPONENT IN CONGRESSIONAL RACE, KEITH CRISCO, DIES. Clay Aiken’s opponent in the race for North Carolina’s Second Congressional District seat, Keith Crisco, died yesterday, according to the company he owned, Asheboro Elastics Corporation, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. The textile entrepreneur and former state commerce secretary died at his home around 1:30 p.m., the company said. He had fallen, a spokesperson for the company told ABC News, but no other information was immediately available. In a statement, Aiken said he was “stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco’s death” adding he was “suspending all campaign activities as we pray for his family and friends.” “Keith came from humble beginnings. No matter how high he rose — to Harvard, to the White House and to the Governor’s Cabinet — he never forgot where he came from,” Aiken said. “He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant. I was honored to know him.” http://abcn.ws/1smmIO3

–AIKEN LIKELY TO BECOME NORTH CAROLINA’S DEMOCRATIC IDOL: Aiken was leading Crisco by a slim 369 votes and according to the state board of elections, they will continue the vote certification process as scheduled for today since it is prescribed by statute. If the absentee ballots or voting errors put Crisco ahead of Aiken then the district executive committee of the Democratic Party would choose the nominee. Of course, this is just legal hurdles and now Aiken will face steep competition to try and oust GOP incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers in the conservative district this November. http://abcn.ws/1smmIO3

10 FACTS ABOUT THE NEWLY-RE-OPENED WASHINGTON MONUMENT. The Washington Monument is back in business. After a nearly three-year, $15 million renovation to repair damage caused by the earthquake that shook its foundation in August 2011, the iconic marble tower reopened during a ceremony Monday morning, allowing the first visitors to travel to the top since the earthquake hit. The earthquake left a crack at the top of the monument and many smaller ones throughout. Federal taxpayers footed $7.5 million of the cost. The other $7.5 million came from David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, a Washington-based asset management firm that manages $199 billion across 120 funds. Rubenstein has said he wants donors to follow a model of “patriotic philanthropy.” Finally getting the chance to visit? ABC’s CHRIS GOOD, ERIN DOOLEY AND ALINA KLEINEIDAM have 10 facts you should know: http://abcn.ws/1gfixDT

WHITE HOUSE: DANGEROUS ROAD AHEAD IF CONGRESS FAILS TO FUND INFRASTRUCTURE. From traffic jams to job losses, the White House yesterday outlined the dire consequences that lie ahead if Congress fails to fund infrastructure projects, as the administration tries to ramp up pressure on lawmakers to replenish a key government fund used to maintain the nation’s roads, bridges and rails, ABC’s MARY BRUCE reports. The Highway Trust Fund is set to run dry at the end of the summer and the administration wants lawmakers to pass a bill that would level off the account and increase annual infrastructure funding by reforming business taxes and closing corporate tax loopholes. But what if Congress doesn’t act and the funds run out? According to the White House, here are some of the hazards down the road: (1) Up to 700,000 Americans will lose their jobs over the next year. “In road work, bridge-building, transit maintenance, all of these types of projects may be delayed or shut down completely, which means trade won’t move, which means trade will slow, which means businesses won’t hire.” (2) Your morning commute will be longer “because the roads you’re driving on will crumble and no one will show up to fix it.” (3) Rush hour will become “rush all afternoon.” (4) Safety on roads, bridges and rails will be compromised.

 

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT DEFIED THREAT OF DEATH TO HELP WOUNDED COMRADES. When former Army Sgt. Kyle White and his platoon came under surprise attack along a remote trail in Afghanistan in November 2007, he was resigned to dying. “I pretty much realized there was no chance of survival after I took those fragments in my face after being knocked out,” said White, 27. “I had no hope for getting out of there, but it was kind of like, OK, but if that is going to happen, I’m going to do what I can to help my battle buddies until that does.” But White didn’t die that day. Despite being wounded himself, incurring two concussions, and running through direct enemy fire multiple times, White survived the four-hour battle while risking his own life to help wounded soldiers and, ultimately, saved the life of former Spc. Kain Schilling. And today, White will be recognized at the White House with the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for military valor. White, joined by Schilling, sat down with ABC’s JON KARL of “Politics Confidential” to talk about the “bittersweet” award that has been earned though a battle that cost the lives of six of their friends: http://yhoo.it/1gz6ITG

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@FordOConnell: Everyone give @StuPolitics a hearty golf clap for this 2014 electoral analysis – http://blogs.rollcall.com/rothenblog/the-new-world-of-election-coverage-and-analysis-a-case-study/?dcz= …

@nowthised: Something looks different – thrilled to join @CNN as VP @CNNMoney + @CNNPolitics: http://recode.net/2014/05/13/nowthisnews-top-editor-ed-okeefe-heads-to-cnn/ … pic.twitter.com/22VQxbF0jS

‏@JillDLawrence: 1st post for @BrookingsInst Primary Project: NC shows tea party, tho pushing GOP right, isn’t winning on #immigration http://bit.ly/1mlFjtR 

@carenbohan: U.S. billionaire Tom Steyer’s ‘Road to Damascus’ includes forays into Asian coal, by @Reuters http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/13/us-usa-steyer-coal-insight-idUSBREA4C06B20140513 …

@SteveDeaceShow: Monday’s show: why I’m supporting @Clovis2014 in the #iasen primary http://stevedeace.com/podcast/deace-show-podcast-05-12-14/ …

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