Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) is the strong frontrunner in a Senate primary against three potential rivals, a recent survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found. The same poll discovered Bruning and another Republican, Treasurer Don Stenberg, led Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson in the general election.
Bruning, who declared his intentions to run shortly after the November 2010 elections, got 47 percent among primary voters tested in the poll. Stenberg hasn't made a decision about the race yet, but he earned 19 percent. PPP surveyed 519 Republicans on Jan. 26 and 2; the poll had a margin of error of 4.3 points.
Both men have history in Senate races. Bruning originally began exploring a Senate run in 2007 before Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel decided not to run for re-election; he eventually deferred to now-Sen. Mike Johanns (R).
In 2000 Stenberg, who was then the state's attorney general, was the Republican nominee against Nelson when Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey decided not to run for re-election. Nelson won by two points.
Earlier general election numbers from the same firm showed Bruning led Nelson by 11 points and Stenberg led the Senator by 4 points, which was in the broader poll's margin of error of 3.1 points.
In what PPP calls "mostly a reflection of name recognition," two other Republicans, state Sen. Deb Fischer and activist Pat Flynn, finished with 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively.
Nelson is one of the most vulnerable Senators up for re-election in 2012. Roll Call Politics rates this race a Tossup.