Pro-Sasse groups take aim at underdog Dinsdale

In the latest signal banker Sid Dinsdale is surging in the Nebraska Senate Republican primary, outside groups backing front-runner and Midland University President Ben Sasse are turning their sights on him.

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The Club for Growth, the Madison Project and the 60 Plus Association, all groups supporting Sasse’s bid, have launched TV ads attacking Dinsdale in the past two days, less than a week out from Election Day. Dinsdale has placed third in most polls of the four-man race, but he's nabbed the endorsement of the Omaha World-Herald, and a recent survey showed him just two points behind second-place candidate Shane Osborn.

The 60 Plus Association ad, features a clip of Dinsdale declaring, “I would always vote to raise the debt limit” during an interview with a local news outlet.

“What better negotiating partner could Harry Reid [D-Nev.] hope for than a senator who never says no? How about one that’s donated to Democrats over and over again?” a narrator asks in the ad.

The Madison Project radio ad, out Wednesday, and the Club for Growth ad, out Thursday, hit the same notes, and the Club also charges Dinsdale has praised ObamaCare.

Outside groups are turning their focus to Dinsdale, who’s come in third in most polls of the race, because there’s evidence the candidate could be surging in the final weeks and could ultimately take the nomination.

There’s precedent for such an outcome: Sen. Deb Fischer (R) orchestrated an upset during her primary when a nasty fight between the two initial front-runners left her an opening.

This year’s primary played out in a similar fashion, with Osborn lobbing attacks at Sasse, and groups supporting Sasse hitting back.

And Osborn poured nearly $1 million of his own money into the race to boost his candidacy in the final month.

Though the outside attacks are problematic for Osborn in the final week of the race, there’s a chance they could backfire against Sasse — and Dinsdale is looking to make that happen.

He’s running an ad in which an ominous narrator declares that “the Washington, D.C., establishment has chosen sides and is fighting over who should be our next U.S. senator,” as a list of PACs and their expenditures scrolls up the screen.

“I will be accountable to Nebraskans, not Washington, D.C., special interests,” Dinsdale says at the end of the ad.

In response to the new ads from outside groups, Dinsdale has charged their negative campaigning is tantamount to negative campaigning from Sasse himself.

"These attacks have come from groups that openly support and have endorsed Ben Sasse. Allowing these groups to run attack ads on your behalf is, in essence, negative campaigning, and every candidate knows that,” he said.

“I will continue to run a positive campaign and respond to these attacks in a positive, respectful manner that sets the record straight. Responding with negative ads is not how things are done in Nebraska and was never part of my campaign strategy."