It's clear Ricketts wants to use his spending prowess to scare off his Republican opponents and dry-up their fundraising efforts - effectively ending the race before it starts. Honestly, with "trust-fund baby" Rickett's family fortune in the hundreds of millions of dollars, it's not a bad strategy.
The AP reports:
Republican Senate hopeful Pete Ricketts fired a financial shot across the bows of his GOP rivals Tuesday in officially launching his campaign.
Ricketts, who is vying for the GOP nomination with Don Stenberg and David Kramer, took out ads in every daily newspaper in Nebraska and in several weeklies. He also launched a series of television and radio spots - all with six months to go before the May primary.
Ricketts declined to say how much he spent on the ads....
Ricketts has said he is worth $25 million, but said Tuesday he did not know much of his own money he'd be willing to spend on his campaign.
"I have an obligation to get my message out to the folks in Nebraska so that they can be informed when it comes to the election," he said. "I need to get out and make that introduction around the state so that people know who I am.
"I'm a household name in my household" only, he said.
He recently stepped down as Ameritrade's chief operating officer. He continues to serve as vice chairman and a member of Ameritrade's board of directors.
Stenberg spokesman Dan Parsons said it was not surprising that Ricketts was spending so much money so early.
"We expected him to spend several million of his own dollars ... to get his name ID up," Parsons said. "We are not intimidated."
Kramer said in a statement through his campaign manager, Sam Fischer, that he also was undaunted by Ricketts' early financial salvo.
"We are successfully building a grass-roots campaign," he said. "The activity or inactivity of any of my fellow candidates isn't going to change my strategy or message."
In reports filed last month with the Federal Election Commission, Ricketts led the GOP pack, having raised $373,000. He had $297,000 cash on hand.
Kramer had raised $172,000 and had $89,000 in the bank.
Stenberg had raised $135,000 and had just $12,500 cash left.
Stenberg and Kramer damn well better be intimidated, and - from the look of those fundraising reports - Parsons and the whole Stenberg campaign had better just be praying for a paycheck.
There's no getting around the fact that Ricketts is the favorite here. He has the money and neither of the other two candidates have "the goods" to overcome that...at least, not without some flawless campaigning and a couple strokes of good fortune.
As for Ricketts' commercial, I've got to say it's one of the best money can buy - the bit with his mother telling him to cover that bald head of his before he catches a cold is pretty good stuff as far as cheesy "get-to-know-the-candidate" moments go. Still, there's something almost repulsive about Ricketts' willingness to expend as much money as he has this far out from an election. Buying a race is one thing, but buying it this early is just poor form, though it may prove brilliant in shutting-down the competition.
In his print advertisment (quarter-page in the Lincoln Journal-Star) and at a press conference today, it's amusing that Ricketts emphasizes as much as he does eliminating the estate tax and making President Bush's 2001 tax cut for the economic elite permanent. On both of those issues, Ricketts is plainly protecting the interest of the Ricketts family and fellow millionaires rather than Nebraska families.
Come on, Pete...if you can afford to spend grandpa's money this early in your campaign, you can afford to pay your fair share in taxes. Let's give money back to the people who need it - for food, clothing, heating, school supplies - rather than those who are going to use it to play "Senator" because it sounds like fun.