Tipping his hand for the first time, Hagel for Senate announced two fundraisers schedule for next month. The announcement sets the stage for a divisive primary, splitting the Hagel/Heineman and Bruning/Osbourne factions of the Party. According to a poll released by the Bruning camp, Bruning leads Hagel by nine points in the primary, but the incumbent’s strength and the national Party’s backing will still be tough for Bruning to overcome.
Nebraska is one of the reddest states in the country, but the Democrats will surely welcome the infighting. If the primary gets dirty and the Democrats recruit a strong candidate, Republicans may be forced to play defense in a state that shouldn’t be close. While Hagel has decided to split from his Party on the war, the traditional conservative primary coalition would be hardpressed to oppose someone who is frequently a headache but who ultimately votes with conservatives on issue after issue. If Republicans had a safe majority, Bruning might get a longer look, but we can’t afford to start risking any more seats than absolutely necessary. If Hagel decides to run for President, Bruning would make an excellent candidate. If not, he would do well to keep his current post for the time being.