Nebraska Primary 2012: Race for Ben Nelson Senate Seat Heating Up

ByJeff Manzer

The polls opened for the primary election in Nebraska at 8 A.M. to good weather. This election cycle has been rather muted due to the Presidential Nominations generally being locked up and a lack of major ballot initiatives, but there is high interest in the Republican Senate nomination.

The focus of the presidential race has turned toward the general election in November. The likely Republican Nominee Mitt Romney should pick up most of the electoral votes here. The big question will be if President Barack Obama will get one Nebraska electoral vote, as he did during the 2008 election. Nebraska can split their electoral votes based on winning a Congressional District.

The most anticipated race will be for the Republican nominee for the Senate seat now held by the retiring Ben Nelson (D). The three frontrunners for the Republican nomination are State Attorney General Jon Bruning (R), State Treasurer Don Stenberg (R), and state Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE 43rd District). Bruning and Stenberg are among the most well-known politicians in the state, while Fischer is not.

Coming into this election, polling between Bruning and Fischer indicates the race is still a toss-up. Last week, Fischer picked up an endorsement by Sarah Palin, and Bruning was endorsed by Rick Santorum. 

The likely Democrat nominee for Senate is Bob Kerrey. Kerrey will bring an interest into the campaign as a historically popular Democrat having been elected as both the Governor and a U.S. Senator of Nebraska. Since that time, he served as the president of the New School in New York. It is still yet to be seen how this will affect his chances in November.