Politics
FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2009 file photo, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Nelson is emerging as one of the leading skeptics in the Democratic caucus of President Barack Obama FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2009 file photo, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Nelson is emerging as one of the leading skeptics in the Democratic caucus of President Barack Obama's deficit and jobs proposals, stances that highlight a drift between the two as both head toward tough re-election campaigns in 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)  

FreedomWorks PAC endorses challenger to Ben Nelson

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Amanda Carey
Contributor

FreedomWorks PAC officially weighed in on the Nebraska Senate race Wednesday, endorsing Republican Don Stenberg. In 2012, Stenberg will be challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson.

A long-time leader in Nebraska politics, this is Stenberg’s fourth attempt to be elected to the U.S. Senate. He first ran in 1996, then again in 2000 and a third time in 2006. In 1996 and 2006, he lost in the primary race. The 2000 election, however, was one of the closest races in the state’s history. Though George W. Bush swept the state, Stenberg lost by two points to Nelson.

In between those bids, Stenberg served as attorney general and the treasurer. He also practiced law in the private sector.

“Over the past few months we have been speaking with our members and allies in Nebraska and two things are clear: They are going to work hard to beat Ben Nelson, and they want Don Stenberg to be their next senator,” Max Pappas, executive director of FreedomWorks PAC,  said in a statement.

Pappas went on to say that Nebraskans have described Stenberg as “reliable, a real conservative,” a “man of integrity” and a “constitutionalist.”

Nelson’s 2009 vote in favor of Obamacare will likely play a crucial role in his re-election bid. Though it was three years ago, Nelson played an instrumental and highly-criticized role in getting Obamacare to pass the Senate. A key question for this election is whether Nebraskans will remember, and whether they’ll want to reward or punish him.

In 2o09, Nelson was the key vote that ended the Republican filibuster in the Senate on the health care bill. And that was after he cut a deal that funded the Medicaid expansion in Nebraska with federal dollars, rather than state dollars. The deal was roundly criticized and Republicans framed the issue saying all Americans would have to foot the bill for every Nebraskan’s health care.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona called the deal the “Cornhusker Kickback.”

In a statewide poll at the time, only 17 percent of Nebraska voters approved of Nelson’s deal.

2012 may be Stenberg’s year to finally win an election.

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