Stenberg running for Senate

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March 1st, 2011

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Lincoln, NE – State Treasurer Don Stenberg declared today that he’s running for the U.S. Senate.

It’s the fourth Senate run for Stenberg, who lost GOP primary races in 1996 and 2006. In 2000, though, he nearly beat the man Republicans are hoping to replace next year, Democrat Ben Nelson. Stenberg began with an attack on Nelson, whom he criticized as a big spending “wheeler dealer.” But he soon turned his fire on a target within his own party.

State Treasurer Don Stenberg is running for Senate in the 2012 election (Photo courtesy treasurer.org)

“Too many Republicans around the country have gone to Washington saying they will cut spending and reduce the size of government, and then done the exact opposite,” he said. “That’s why some Republicans lost their elections in 2006 and in 2008. We cannot afford to have a Republican nominee in Nebraska who says he will restrain spending, but who is a person who will not actually do it.”

Stenberg said under Bruning, the attorney general’s annual budget increases have averaged 12 percent, compared to 3 percent when he held that office. He also cited Bruning’s support, as a law student, for abortion and gay rights, and gun control, asking if Bruning is now a “conservative of convenience.”

Bruning later downplayed Stenberg’s criticism and said he’ll run the race his way.

“I’m not going to make it nasty,” he said. “I mean, if Don wants to make it nasty, that’s up to him. I see it as a race to the finish line and if he wants to throw stones at the back of my head as I’m running to the finish line, that’s up to him. I’m not going to stop to look back and throw stones at him, too. I’ll just keep running.”

Bruning said his views became more conservative as he began working and having a family. And he said his office expenditures increased because he took over defending the state’s rejection of a nuclear waste site, instead of hiring outside counsel as Stenberg did. Nebraska lost that $150 million case when Stenberg was attorney general, and Bruning eventually dropped an appeal to the Supreme Court. The decision that they both defended unsuccessfully occurred during the administration of then Governor Ben Nelson.

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