Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns held a 9-point lead over Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning in a new poll of the Republican Senate primary in the Cornhusker State.
In the poll conducted for Bruning’s campaign, Johanns, the former governor who is the favorite of many national GOP leaders, was favored by 39 percent of those surveyed, while Bruning was the choice of 30 percent.
The poll of 400 likely Republican primary voters, conducted Sept. 10-12 by Dresner, Wickers and Associates, had a 4-point margin of error.
Bruning’s camp interpreted the results as a good sign for their candidate, who has been in the Senate race for most of the year.
“These numbers show that the pundits who say Mike Johanns is a clear favorite are flat-out wrong,” Bruning campaign manager Jordan McGrain said in a statement. “Johanns is not the heavyweight among Republicans some expect him to be.”
The poll also showed Bruning leading another potential Republican Senate candidate, former Rep. Hal Daub, 48 percent to 17 percent.
The Senate race in Nebraska has been transformed by Sen. Chuck Hagel’s (R) announcement earlier this week that he would not seek a third term. Johanns is widely expected to enter the race soon and likely would be seen as the early GOP frontrunner. But Bruning, who entered the race before Hagel headed for the exits, has indicated that he does not plan to defer to the former governor, and the poll should strengthen his resolve.
On the Democratic side, Hagel’s departure means that former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D), who retired in 2000, is seriously contemplating a political comeback.
If he does not run, Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey (D) and rancher Scott Kleeb (D) are expected to consider the race.
– David M. Drucker and Josh Kurtz