Conservative outside groups finally got a win Tuesday, if not a scalp.
Ben Sasse’s victory in the Republican primary for Nebraska’s open Senate seat gives much-needed validation to a constellation of entities that invested big and would have been in a tough spot with activist donors had things not gone their way.
Seventeen groups spent a total of more than $3 million in the Cornhusker State Senate race, mostly for Sasse: $1.4 million to support him and half a million to attack former state Treasurer Shane Osborn.
The Texas and North Carolina primaries so far have fueled an establishment-strikes-back narrative. Mitch McConnell will easily dispatch primary challenger Matt Bevin in Kentucky next Tuesday, and polls show so-called establishment favorites at the top of the pack in Georgia and Oregon.
The only real opportunity for the big outside groups to defeat a sitting senator this year (in other words, get a scalp) is not until June 3 in Mississippi, where Sen. Thad Cochran faces a stiff challenge from state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
This made getting a win in Nebraska so key, without which fundraising could start to dry up.