Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Six Million Dollar Primary

by Kyle Michaelis
He's not quite Steve Austin, but - thanks to Pete Ricketts' ridiculous and unprecedented levels of spending - the 2006 Senate race already qualifies as the most expensive in Nebraska history.

And, not only is this before we've even had the primary, but then there's still 6 months to go before the general election. Heaven help us.

The Lincoln Journal-Star reports:
Pete Ricketts has plugged another $500,000 of his own money into his Republican Senate campaign, bringing his total personal loans to nearly $4.5 million.

The latest addition came April 28 after the most recent campaign finance reporting period. Total funding for the Ricketts primary campaign has surpassed $5 million, giving him a 10-to-1 financial advantage over his two GOP primary election opponents.

Former Republican State Chairman David Kramer reported $505,000 in total funding last month. Former Attorney General Don Stenberg is conducting a $476,000 campaign, with the help of $71,000 from his own pocket.

Ricketts, who stepped aside as chief operating officer of Ameritrade to enter the Senate race, long ago shattered personal spending records by a Nebraska candidate....

This year’s contest for the Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson already is the most expensive in state history. Democrat Bob Kerrey and Republican Dave Karnes spent a total of $6.9 million in their 1988 showdown....

Nelson already has raised $4.3 million for his re-election bid this year.

If Nebraska Republicans allow Ricketts to buy this nomination - as seems likely - I'm going to be sorely disappointed. Not because Ricketts will be the most significant challenge to Nelson but simply because I don't think I can stomach another 6 months of his campaign ads.

Ricketts has outspent the other Republican candidates 10-to-1. With the Ricketts family fortune, he can afford to do the same in the general election no matter now much Nelson raises.

Nelson is the most popular U.S. Senator in the country. To even be competitive, Ricketts is going to need to spend a fortune. Unfortunately, he just happens to have one readily available...and, as already demonstrated, he's not afraid to use it.

This is going to get ugly - and, worse than that, it's going to be very, very annoying.


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