The latest tea party target is wasting no time in responding to recent attacks.
Nebraska Republican Senate hopeful Sid Dinsdale is firing back at outside groups hitting him on the airwaves in the final days before the primary. According to his campaign, Dinsdale will be on the air tonight with a response TV ad. The campaign declined to provide specifics on the buy.
"Desperate Washington special interests are spending dark money falsely attacking Sid Dinsdale and his family, telling you who to vote for," the ad's narrator says. "Nebraskans are self-reliant people who don't need to be told what to do from special interests."
Dinsdale, the president of Pinnacle Bank, has run third in primary polling behind Midland University President Ben Sasse and former state Treasurer Shane Osborn. But there is some evidence, including an internal poll from the Sasse campaign, that Dinsdale is closing in on the two leaders.
Outside groups backing Sasse have evidently taken notice. In the past two days, the political action arms of the Club for Growth and Madison Project — which are both backing Sasse — began running ads attacking Dinsdale as a "liberal" Republican.
Dinsdale, Osborn and Sasse are vying in the May 13 primary for the seat of retiring Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.
"Unfortunately, with Ben Sasse and Shane Osborn slugging it out for the Nebraska Senate seat, a third candidate, who is literally a Republican-in-name-only, has come out of nowhere to pose a serious threat," Madison Project policy director Daniel Horowitz wrote on the group's website Tuesday.
Last cycle, now-Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., came from behind to win the nomination after the two front-runners spent the race beating each other up. Sasse and Osborn, and the outside groups backing each of them, have been engaged in a similarly nasty battle.
In Dinsdale's new ad, he says he will work to "stop wasteful deficit spending so we don't have to raise the debt ceiling ever again." One of the attacks leveled at him by the Club for Growth was that he had said he would vote to raise the debt ceiling.
"Sid will match punch for punch," Dinsdale consultant Sam Fischer said Thursday. "He is no one's punching bag."
The race is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.