It looks like Nebraska Senator and Vietnam War hero Chuck Hagel will get a serious challenger if he decides to run for re-election to the Senate according to the Lincoln Journal Star:
Attorney General Jon Bruning is poised to burst out of the starting gate Thursday in the 2008 Republican Senate race. Bruning is expected to announce his candidacy for the GOP nomination at an event scheduled for 10 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda, where he will be joined by family and friends.
Notice of "an important announcement regarding (Bruning's) political future" came in a Tuesday news release from Jordan McGrain, who will serve as his campaign manager. Bruning's announcement would set in motion a Republican battle for the Senate seat held by GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel, who has not yet said whether he will seek re-election to a third term.
Bruning's people claim that their internal polling shows them leading Hagel by a small margin.
This raises some intriguing possibilities. If Hagel is defeated in the Republican Party primary he could decide to mount an independent campaign for the Nebraska Senate seat. The Democrats could then opt to withdraw their candidate from the race and throw their support behind Hagel. With no Democrat on the ballot, the anti-war (but otherwise conservative) Republican would be a shoo-in to defeat Bruning in the general.
This would be a virtual replay of the Connecticut 2006 Senate race that returned Democrat turncoat Joe Lieberman to the Senate. At that time, I said that Lieberman's end-around back to his Senate seat undermined the primary system. Any candidate who loses in a primary could simply ignore that result and run in the general if they can gather enough signatures (I assume this can be done in Nebraska similar to how Lieberman did it, but I admit I'm no expert on Nebraska electoral law). If enough candidates start doing this it could destroy the primary system altogether.
But hey, turnabout is fair play. If Hagel wants to try it, we should back him up. He's the most eloquent advocate for a withdrawal from Iraq that we have in the Senate right now. We need him to stay right where he is.
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