Music is a passion of mine. In finding the music that most interests me, I’ve found Derek Webb. His album “Stockholm Syndrome” (one of my favorites) is a must have for anyone who has ever thought that maybe Christians were entirely missing the point on some current political and social issues. One of the songs on “Stockholm Syndrome” is a catchy little tune called “Jena & Jimmy.” It’s about date rape.
Well, kind of. ”Jena & Jimmy” is a political metaphor for the way grassroots movements often get intoxicated with power – power that ultimately brings the demise of the movement.
I often wonder if the Tea Party movement will become like Jena in this song. I certainly hope not, but I get concerned when I see so many Tea Party leaders working to spread their influence rather than working to advance the principles they claim to value.
For example, look at the Republican Senate primary in Nebraska. A candidate (Deb Fischer) won the election last night, largely because she was sporting endorsements from Sarah Palin and Herman Cain. Meanwhile, somebody like Don Stenberg (endorsed by Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks, and Club for Growth) goes home a loser.
We really can’t fault Fischer for seeking out endorsements from Sarah Palin and Herman Cain; they certainly have sway with voters, and in a tight race, you need every edge you can get. The real issue here is the lack of vetting candidates by the people perceived as leaders in the Tea Party movement.
Why do people like Cain and Palin latch on to candidates who aren’t really great? Is it the attention they get? Is it the way people swoon at the site of them behind a microphone? Are they just looking for a way to extend their political influence?
Conservatives and Tea Party groups have been working recently in several states to influence Republican Senate primaries. You know that Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) was recently defeated by Richard Mourdock. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) could face a similar fate at the hands of Dan Liljenquist, though that’s less likely. And with more money being sent to help Ted Cruz in Texas, they could see another huge victory there.
However, conservatives are divided in Nebraska. Jon Bruning, who was once seen as the frontrunner in the GOP Senate primary in the Cornhusker State, has been beaten and battered, but thanks to endorsements by prominent figures and grassroots groups, the conservative vote has been split, leading Matt Lewis to conclude that they may have missed an opportunity:
Things were so much simpler just one week ago, when Sen. Dick Lugar was the obvious villain and Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock was the conservative alternative. One short week later, with no squishy incumbent to oust, all three Nebraska Republicans are vying to occupy the conservative mantle.
And thanks to the seemingly schizophrenic endorsements of prominent national conservatives, the waters are thoroughly muddied.
We noted last week that former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) decided to make another run for his old job, after promises were made to him by Democratic leaders, after Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) decided not to seek re-election.
Kerrey’s candidacy means a tougher challenge for the GOP, but the state has been very strongly Republican in recent years, even more so during President Barack Obama’s administration. But if a new poll from Rasmussen is any indicator, the GOP should pick up Nebraska in the fall with either current Attorney General Jon Bruning or former Attorney General Don Stenberg.
Here is how the poll works out.
Bob Kerrey v. Jon Bruning
- Kerry: 33%
- Bruning: 55%
- Other: 4%
- Not sure: 7%
Bob Kerrey v. Don Stenberg
- Kerry: 34%
- Stenberg: 52%
- Other: 5%
- Not sure: 9%
Kerry, who is to the left of Nelson on many issues Nebraskans are concerned about, is underwater with his favorables — 51% view him unfavorably, while his potential GOP challengers are doing well, both over 50% in their favorables.
Jon Bruning, the Attorney General in Nebraska and a Republican candidate for United States Senate, is running a great web ad hitting Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) for his support of ObamaCare and the Cornhusker Kickback:
According to a poll released earlier this month, Nelson trails Bruning by double-digits in a potential match up in 2012, 50% to 39% with 11% undecided. The poll shows that 50% of Nebraskans disapprove of Nelson’s job performance.
At the end of last year, polls showed Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) trailing a potential Republican opponent by 31 points. The latest polling out of the Nebraska shows him trailing two GOP opponents, though by smaller margins, with only 29% of the state’s voters believing Nelson deserves re-election:
Fifty-nine percent of Nebraska voters said it was time to give a new person a chance to represent the Cornhusker State in the Senate, making for a possibly difficult path to victory for Nelson in 2012.
Two state Republicans, Attorney General Jon Bruning and Treasurer-elect Don Stenberg, enjoy early leads over Nelson, according to a Magellan Research Group poll conducted last week.
If the 2012 election were held today, Bruning would best Nelson, 52-38 percent, with 10 percent undecided.
Stenberg enjoys a smaller margin over Nelson. Forty-six percent of Nebraska voters would elect Stenberg, while 40 percent would vote for Nelson.
While Nelson is more conservative than many of this fellow Democrats, he will have to answer for his votes on the stimulus and ObamaCare. As I often said about Harry Reid in this past cycle; we’re still a long way off, anything can happen.