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« Morning Thoughts: Obi's One | Blog Home Page | Michigan In Trouble »

NE Primary May Shrink

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning looked ready to get out of the race to replace retiring Sen. Chuck Hagel, the Lincoln Journal Star reported late last night. A source close to the campaign told the paper Bruning would drop out sometime next week, paving the way for former Gov. Mike Johanns to cruise to the GOP nomination.

Bruning, who jumped in the race even before Hagel announced his retirement, has praised Johanns in recent days, softening what had been a challenging tone. Bruning addressed a gathering of Republicans on Saturday and focused on his own record as attorney general. In recent weeks, Bruning has focused on differences between himself and Johanns on immigration. Still, Bruning campaign manager Jordan McGrain vehemently denied rumors of a pullout.

Johanns, the heavy favorite both in the primary and the general elections, will get a visit from President Bush next month for an Omaha fundraiser. Johanns served, until earlier this year, as Secretary of Agriculture. Bruning had raised close to a million dollars through the end of September, though he would likely have found himself swamped by Johanns' fundraising ability.

Former Omaha Mayor and Congressman Hal Daub also dropped out of the race last month. On the Democratic side, former Sen. Bob Kerrey took a pass on the race, as did national Democrats' second choice, current Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey. The party has turned its attention to 2006 Congressional candidate Scott Kleeb. But in a year when seemingly everything has gone right for Democrats, Nebraska is one potential opportunity that looks to have slipped away.