Nebraska: Businessman Ponders Party Switch for Election

Posted December 3, 2007 at 6:33pm

Short on Senate candidates, the state Democratic Party is courting wealthy Republican businessman Tony Raimondo, the Lincoln Journal Star reported last week.

Raimondo flirted with entering the Republican Senate primary earlier this year, but abandoned his bid after GOP favorite Mike Johanns entered the race. Johanns, a former governor who recently resigned as Agriculture secretary, eventually scared state Attorney General Jon Bruning out of the Republican race as well.

Bruning had been campaigning since the spring and had raised about $1 million. But late last month, he exited the race and endorsed Johanns.

Raimondo, chairman of Behlen Manufacturing Co., said he’s “always been a moderate” who has worked closely with both Democrats and Republicans, the Journal Star reported.

“My burning desire to be in the Senate is from a business point of view,” Raimondo said in a telephone interview with the newspaper.

Nebraska is solid Republican territory, and Johanns is seen as the prohibitive favorite to replace retiring Sen. Chuck Hagel (R).

— David M. Drucker