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A Big Fight Over Small Differences

The powers behind the Nebraska Republican primary.

Mar 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 27 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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So why is the NRSC pulling the purse strings in a race where there isn’t even an incumbent, much less a classic insider-outsider divide? Sasse has used his health policy expertise to run hard against Obamacare, and Hoskins speculates, “McConnell was upset that Sasse called for stronger Republican leadership to stop Obamacare.” However, McConnell’s search-and-destroy mission against SCF-endorsed candidates might have more to do with Hoskins than Sasse. Hoskins was the chief of staff for former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint. For years, Senate Kremlinologists noted a litany of cloakroom-and-dagger operations prompted by DeMint and McConnell’s long-simmering feud. Since leaving the Senate, DeMint has used his position as head of the powerful Heritage Foundation in ways that have irked Senate Republicans.

It’s an open question whether the NRSC is making threats that it can’t back up. Aside from Sasse, observers think the SCF-endorsed Chris McDaniel has a good chance of beating Mississippi’s Thad Cochran. And when McConnell crows about the SCF not having “a single nominee anywhere in the country,” he’s setting a low bar. If the SCF wins just one or two Senate races, that may be all it takes for McConnell to wake up and find that, far from being crushed, his Tea Party opposition is emboldened.

Mark Hemingway is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

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