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Bruning, Hagel Sniping After Bruning Touts Poll

State Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) said in an interview Monday that he is moving closer every day to pulling the trigger on challenging Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) in the 2008 Senate primary, pointing to a poll that showed him leading the incumbent by 9 points in a hypothetical matchup.

The survey, commissioned by Bruning, had him in front of Hagel 47 percent to 38 percent, with 15 percent undecided. It also showed that only 38 percent of respondents believed Hagel deserved another Senate term, while 49 percent said someone new should be given a chance.

“I am strongly considering a run for Senate. And every day that goes by that consideration gets stronger,” Bruning said.

Bruning said he’ll continue to raise money for his exploratory committee over the summer, and make a final decision on whether to run later this year. The poll of 404 likely Republican primary voters was conducted by Dresner, Wickers & Associates from April 10-16, and had a 4.3 percent margin of error.

Bruning said Hagel has hurt himself politically in Nebraska with his constant and harsh criticism of President Bush’s Iraq War policy.

Hagel, the attorney general argued, angered Nebraska Republicans in particular when he aligned himself with Senate Democrats to help them pass a supplemental war funding bill that included a timeline for withdrawing from Iraq.

Kevin Chapman, Hagel’s political director, called Bruning’s criticisms “laughable,” and accused the attorney general of being “a chameleon” and a party-switcher.

“Jon Bruning has repeatedly told people, including Senator Hagel, both publicly and privately that he would support Senator Hagel for re-election or president,” Chapman said.

“Records and facts do matter. Senator Hagel has compiled one of the most conservative voting records in the Senate over the last 10 years,” Chapman said. “Last year, Senator Hagel’s voting record was the most supportive of President Bush in the Senate. … It’s laughable that Jon Bruning is claiming to be more Republican than Chuck Hagel.”

Bruning said many Nebraska Republicans feel that Hagel has left the party. Bruning added that Hagel’s indecision on running for president or re-election in 2008 has helped to damage his image, as proven, in Bruning’s opinion, by the results of the poll.

“From the discussions I’m having,” Bruning said, “I’m not sure that that [damage] is reversible.”
— David M. Drucker

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