Newcomers Win Big in Primary Election


Nebraska voters made it clear Tuesday that they're through with politics as usual, voting relative unknown Ben Sasse through the primaries.

"We started this race with 3 percent name [identification] in a poll that had a margin of error of 5 percent," said Sasse to a crowd of supporters.

He said that may have given him an edge.

"We traveled the state and I would mention that I was a 42-year-old non-politician; and people would cheer," said Sasse.

He'll be facing democratic attorney Dave Domina, who has also never held office. Callaway rancher-farmer Jim Jenkins is also running as an independent candidate.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Pete Ricketts, an Omaha businessman, has also never held office. He said that helped his campaign.

"I think they're looking for reform. They were looking for somebody from the outside to come in and certainly that's what I offer coming in from the private sector," said Ricketts.

Come November, Ricketts will face libertarian Mark G. Elworth Jr. and democrat Chuck Hassebrook. The highest office Hassebrook as held is regent for the University of Nebraska.

The Republican primary winners in the race for senate and governor have more in common. They had big-name endorsement like Sarah Palin. Third parties funded attack ads against both Ricketts' and Sasse's opponents.

Although Ricketts and Sasse haven't held office, they're not entirely political outsiders. Sasse worked in the George W. Bush administration and Ricketts has served on the Republican National Committee.
More incumbents fell in Hall County where newcomers won two of the three races for Board of Supervisors. Jane Jeffries Richardson was one of them.
"This is exactly the reason I'm running - petty politics and finger pointing and disagreeing and arguing has no place in county government," she said.

Not only did Grand Island Mayor Jay Vavricek lose his seat, votes for financial advisor and coach Jeremy Jensen even surpassed those for City Council President Chuck Haase.

"I've tried to show people that you don't have to be a politician to be a leader," said mayoral candidate Jensen.

All of Nebraska's congressmen survived. Adrian Smith and Jeff Fortenberry won easily against their opponents, but Lee Terry in District 2 only won by a margin of about 5 percent.