Ben Sasse hits the road in pursuit of Senate seat
October 10th, 2014
Omaha, NE – In this yearâ€™s U.S. Senate race between Dave Domina of Omaha and Fremont native, Ben Sasse, most of the limited polling conducted so far purports to show Sasse with a comfortable lead in the race. However, many Nebraska voters are just now starting to pay attention to the race.[audio:https://kvnonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/final-2.mp3]
According to Sasse, his frontrunner status in this race isnâ€™t something that he will take for granted. Sasse said that he has spoken with a lot of Nebraska voters across the state and feels he has a pretty good understanding of their issues and concerns.
â€œThe first thing that Nebraskans talk about when you ask them what their hopes are and worries are, they talk about their kids and they talk about transition to an increasingly complex economy and they are worried about the work ethic,â€ Sasse said. â€œSo that is really the first things they talk about, they donâ€™t begin with politics.â€
Having said that, Sasse notes there are important political considerations that he believes are foremost on many Nebraska votersâ€™ minds.
â€œThey are really worried that we donâ€™t have a sustainable budget trajectory,â€ Sasse said. â€œFolks know that when you have a congress that is as dysfunctional as this one and has only passed one budget in six years, and it wasnâ€™t really a new budget, just a continuation of old ones. They know we are on the precipice of an entitlement crisis and they would like to see a Washington that tackles the bigger issues and has a framework of stable economic growth so that life can be lived and futures can be built here in our towns in Nebraska.â€
Sasse said he noticed a trend while campaigning in the northern part of the pan-handle, there are counties that are as large as the state of Rhode Island. Counties with maybe 1,000 inhabitants and small towns would be near ghost-towns at midday. He said the people who live there were all in the fields or working on the large ranches. Sasse said while some think an â€˜urban-ruralâ€™ divide is pretty obvious in Nebraska, he doesn’t see it as a big problem.
â€œI donâ€™t think there are a lot of strict urban-rural divides, particularly on federal issues. There are some state issues on property taxes where you find an urban-rural divide, but in my race you donâ€™t,â€ Sasse said. â€œThe biggest change in what weâ€™ve experienced over the course of this year is last summer and fall you almost couldnâ€™t get a voter to talk about foreign policy issues. Now foreign policy is darn-near, the most talked about thing when it comes to our town hall meetings. I find that just as much in Omaha and Lincoln as I do in â€˜ag country.â€™â€
Sasse who is currently the president at Midland University in Fremont, has plenty of Washington insider experience. He served as chief of staff in the Department of Justiceâ€™s Office of Legal Policy in George W. Bushâ€™s administration. Sasse also served as chief of staff to Nebraska congressmen Rep. Jeff Fortenberry in 2005.
â€œMy daughters believe that they could deliver a calf now, weâ€™ve spent so much time with ranchers over this past year,â€ Sasse said. â€œWeâ€™ve built a lot of relationships and have been truly moved by the outpouring of support from Nebraskans across our 93 counties.â€
While Sasse continues to face a lot of criticism over the outsider big money contributions he has accepted from more than a dozen out-of-state political groups, he prefers instead to highlight the large number of Nebraskans who have made smaller donations to his campaign.
â€œI think we have eleven times as many donors in Nebraska as all three of my opponents combined have,â€ Sasse said. â€œYou sometimes hear all sorts of goofy things claimed by other campaigns but the simple reality is we have more than 3,200 donors in Nebraska and all the other candidates have less than 300. I think itâ€™s a function of how hard weâ€™ve been pounding the ground and the fact that the voters of Nebraska know that you canâ€™t solve all of life from Washington and they want a voice that recognizes the centrality and the priorities of Nebraska.â€
Sasse has come under fire from Domina recently for cancelling out on a debate in Hastings, NE. He said however, he was never scheduled to be in Hastings for the debate.
Sasse said he has already done more debates this election cycle than Bob Kerrey and Deb Fischer did in 2012.
â€œWe are ignoring that, we are not running against anybody,â€ Sasse said. â€œIâ€™m running for the future of our kids and grandkids and we are talking to Nebraskans about big opportunities and more common sense solutions for the big problems the nation faces and we are getting a great response on the ground.â€
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