Vavricek Goes Negative on Smith; Smith Goes Negative on....Ted Kennedy?by Kyle Michaelis
John Hanson, whose spent the last 5 years advising Osborne on agricultural issues, seems to have won the battle for the hearts and minds of editorial boards - picking up endorsements from the McCook Gazette, Kearney Hub, Scottsbluff Star-Herald, and Omaha World-Herald. Still, his opponents - Grand Island mayor Jay Vavricek and State Senator Adrian Smith of Gering - both have natural bases of support as current elected officials that Hanson can't necessarily rely upon.
Of the three, Smith has actually been the most successful raising money - though the majority of it has come from the Club for Growth, an out-of-state, rabidly anti-tax special interest group. As of March 31st, members of the Club for Growth had already donated $244,649 to Smith's campaign, more than either Hanson or Vavricek had received in total. Still, both Hanson and Vavricek seem to take heart in the fact that the Club for Growth failed in a similar effort in 2004 to hand-pick the Republican nominee in Nebraska's 1st District.
Will they be more successful this time out? We'll know soon enough. But, it's interesting to note that Vavricek is actually running television ads attacking Smith for his Club for Growth connections - not only because an out-of-state entity is trying to buy the election but also because he claims they're anti-farm subsidies and even anti-ethanol.
This little passage from Smith's April 18 World-Herald profile seems quite telling as to why this would be such a problem:
Smith said he supports incentives for ethanol production and a sustainable safety net for farmers....In an interview, he said he would have voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Later, Smith called back and said that after more contemplation he had changed his mind and would have voted for CAFTA.
That later stance puts Smith in line with the Club for Growth, but Smith said the group's support had nothing to do with his position on the trade pact.
Yeah, let's just say a quarter of a million dollars will buy a lot of contemplation.
Meanwhile, rather than fighting back or defending himself from Vavricek's attack, Smith has decided to use all that Club for Growth money in a slightly different fashion. I just saw his most recent campaign commercial and - more than anything else - it prominently featured pictures of Democratic Senators John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and Hillary Clinton, telling voters to "Send the Liberals a Message" by sending Smith to Congress.
Yup, there's money well-spent. Always nice to see a good campaign fought on important issues like who will really stick it to Hillary Clinton as a lowly freshman member of the House of Representatives.