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Tea Partyers Will Test Strength

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
From left: Sens. Jim DeMint, Rand Paul and Mike Lee are among the most prominent Washington politicians attempting to assist conservative tea party candidates across the country.

The club has pummeled Bruning with negative advertising, and the state attorney general has retaliated. But one Nebraska Republican insider said Stenberg’s apparent inability to fund positive ads to balance out the negative spots being run on his behalf has damaged his image with GOP primary voters. Stenberg, a perennial Senate candidate, has not raised much money to support his bid. Further hurting Stenberg, potentially, is the Club for Growth’s poor reputation in Nebraska, although the club disputes this.

The Bruning and Stenberg campaigns, and their outside supporters, have bloodied each other to the point where Fischer, originally an afterthought in this primary, has risen. For the balance of the campaign until now, she lagged behind the others in fundraising and in garnering attention. Republican operatives tied to the GOP establishment in Washington contend that if Stenberg finishes third, it will be a serious blight on the credibility of DeMint and groups like the Club for Growth.

A GOP strategist aligned with Fischer said last week he believes the last-minute Bruning advertising that has hit Fischer is an indication of her growing strength.

“Until today, I didn’t think she had a chance in hell,” he said.

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