Tea Party Express: Nebraska will be focus of first 'surprise' endorsement
May 9th, 2011
02:07 PM ET
12 years ago

Tea Party Express: Nebraska will be focus of first 'surprise' endorsement

Washington (CNN) - Two days before The Tea Party Express reveals what it's called a major "surprise endorsement" for the 2012 races, the group has provided details to CNN.

On Monday, Tea Party Express National Spokesman Levi Russell said that its Senate endorsement – their first for the upcoming political cycle - will focus on Nebraska. The group will officially reveal the recipient of its endorsement at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington on Wednesday.

The Tea Party Express had already announced that the state's two-term Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson is on its list of political targets.

"We are targeting Nelson for being one of the worst offenders and selling out his vote and his principles," Russell said.

The group's spokesman explained why it is making Nelson the target of its first major senate endorsement.

"Nelson is a well-established, long-time senator," Russell said. "And he has a lot of resources. And he has the ability to raise a lot of money. And what we want to do is bring this election to a national scale, just like [the Tea Party Express did] in Nevada or Alaska where we got involved and the candidate can get support from groups all across the U.S."

In the last senate races, the Tea Party Express endorsed Republicans Sharron Angle in Nevada and Joe Miller in Alaska – but both candidates lost their general elections despite deep financial support and manpower help from the group.

Currently, several Republicans are interested in replacing Nelson in Nebraska. State Attorney General Jon Bruning, former senate candidate Pat Flynn and state Treasurer Don Stenberg have officially entered the race, among others.

Nelson's campaign is downplaying the Tea Party Express' slams against the senator.

"It's old news, so it's not surprising," campaign manager Paul Johnson told CNN. "They've been railing against him for a few months now, saying they were going to target the race."

As for the group's Wednesday endorsement, Johnson said, "Ultimately people who vote in the primary - in the Republican primary and the Democratic party - will pick the nominee not…the Tea Party, per se, at the national level."

Johnson called claims that Nelson sells out his vote "poppy cock and political rhetoric."

"Sen. Nelson – both as governor and senator – has demonstrated time and again his willingness to work across party lines to accomplish good things for the people of Nebraska and our nation. And to use that kind of language is, I think, not only offensive to me – but I think to the people of Nebraska."

- Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN

Filed under: Ben Nelson • Nebraska • Tea Party Express
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    The Tea Party Elite dictates who Nebraskans vote for.

    May 9, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  2. Not All Docs Play Golf

    Nothing is "surprising" coming from the Tea Party (TEA = Tax Evading Anarchists)

    May 9, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. The Day of Financial Reckoning is HERE - The Great Democrat Welfare Society Ends

    But wait a minute... According to all the libtards in here they were just a flash in the pan and all disappeared after the 2010 election?! Just wishful thinking on their part I guess!

    THEY'RE BACK!!!! And that is bad news for the Democrats and Obama in 2012. Which is in turn good news for the country.

    May 9, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  4. Republicans - "The Not Intended To Be Factually Accurate" Party

    If journalists won't call Republican politicians on their lies, it's up to the people to do it.

    President Obama has forever torpedoed the Republican Lie that they are "Stronger [read better] at Defending the Nation". They'll say, we kept American safe. Umm, NO YOU DIDN'T – that is what we call a lie. America was attacked on the Republican's watch. We lost 3,000 citizens to al Queda and Anthrax. Under a Democrat, President Obama, the US killed the mass murderer, Osama bin laden. That will forever be the truth.

    Ask a GOP'er how they are going to create jobs and pay off the National Debt and they'll tell you that TAX CUTS will do the trick. WRONG. Been There. Done That ! It's a LIE. Income Tax rates have nothing to do with creating additional demand nor do Capital Gains Tax cuts. Bush cut both and we see where that got us. Record deficts and the loss of MILLIONS OF JOBS.

    GOP ... the not intended to be factually accurate party

    May 9, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    Why would any member of the Tea Party point to Alaska or Nevada with any sort of pride? Its pretty sad that the only thing they have is divisiveness.

    May 9, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. janetlaw

    I see the brown-shirts, I mean "Tea-Partiers", are out for their version and only their version of the U.S. – not the America that was founded in 1776 or the America I live in, I hope!

    May 9, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  7. Frank in Valparaiso Indiana

    This is a state where the state tree is a telephone pole, just like Kansas.

    May 9, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  8. rusty155

    If I was the People Of Nebraska , I would tell the Tea party to get out of my State. You seen what they done to Wisconsin, Ohio Mich. These People Only goal Is do away with program that help the Middle Class, the poor and the OLD. And do what the KOCH'S BROTHER want. With the Republican and the Tea Party It all ABOUT THE RICH , BIG BUSINESS, and the OIL COMPANY. The best thing you can do Is tell they to Leave your City or State. Tell to get back In there Big RV and hit the road.

    May 9, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  9. Jilli

    Nelson's a sell-out to both dems and republicans – he's only looking out for Ben Nelson. He's as good an argument for term limits as any.

    May 9, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. rhumba

    They want to do just like they did in Alaska and Nevada? Do they mean endorse NUTS? That's no surprise; that's what we all expect from the Tea Party

    May 9, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    I guess the Tea Party doesn't follow the polls which say that their populairty is way on the downside now. Even some of their members expressed shock when they found out what the GOP had in store for Medicare. They better pick Herman Cain to prove to doubters that they really CAN look beyond race because that stigma still remains with them.

    May 9, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  12. Nancy5545

    @CNN The Masters of Spin – really? You are certainly living in la-la land. The TP's are no better than the Taliban and Americans are saying no. Your so called victory in 2010 is a joke in itself – 60% of voters who turned out for the 2008 elections did not for the 2010 – but understand they will be voting in 2012 – good luck with your fairy tale.

    May 9, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  13. Double M

    The Tea Party is a terrorist organization that is trying to destroy America. Period.

    May 9, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC


    May 9, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    If they hate Nelson so much, they should just endorse him.

    May 9, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    The Day of Financial Reckoning is HERE – The Great Democrat Welfare Society Ends

    But wait a minute... According to all the libtards in here they were just a flash in the pan and all disappeared after the 2010 election?! Just wishful thinking on their part I guess!

    Wrong again. You can't kill cockroaches, and you can't fix stupid. The Tea Party-types will always exist, because you will always find a right-winger who does not want to work, does not want things to get better, does not want people to learn to be tolerant, and who will follow the first easy-to-swallow conspiracy theory because blaming others is SO much easier than fixing problems. What is different is that we know who you are, and that you don't stand for anything positive. You will be swept aside because reality has dawned on your boys in DC, and they are running like scalded dogs back to their private sector jobs because governing is hard work, and we all know conservatives won't work. Your last president is a perfect example of that.

    Conservatism: the lazy man's philosophy.

    May 9, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  17. annie s

    I won't miss any Blue Dog Democrat, especially one who helped to turn a great Healthcare Bill into one that was just "the best we could do". But a Tea Party candidate? Please, I love my country way too much for that.

    May 9, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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