Ben Sasse, poised to become the next senator from Nebraska, boasted a long list of national tea party supporters in his Republican primary win Tuesday.
For starters, the young university president and former Bush administration official had Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and Tea Party Patriots working on his behalf. But already, Mr. Sasse is sounding more like a uniter than a divider within the fractious Republican Party.
At the end of a nasty primary battle, in which Sasse had run afoul of the most powerful Republican in the Senate – Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, avatar of the Republican establishment – the Nebraskan pledged to work with him.
But to the national tea party groups, that may not matter. They have avoided the possibility of a primary season without a major victory – important, if nothing else, to future fundraising. Sasse won 49 percent of the vote.
Banker Sid Dinsdale, who surged late, fell far short with just 22 percent. Former state treasurer, Shane Osborn, whose campaign was hobbled by mistakes, got 21 percent. Sasse is expected to breeze to victory in November, succeeding retiring Sen. Mike Johanns (R).
“On Wednesday, the tea party groups will jump up and down,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “They got their guy. But the good thing for Republicans is that Sasse wants to be a serious conservative and a problem-solver.”