Nebraska: Ex-Republican Enters Senate Race as Democrat

Posted February 4, 2008 at 6:42pm

Wealthy businessman Tony Raimondo, once a potential Republican Senate candidate, announced Monday that he will be seeking the office as a Democrat.

Raimondo recently switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat after it became clear that former Gov. Mike Johanns (R) had a virtual lock on the support of GOP grass-roots activists as well as the party’s establishment.

Even state Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) recently chose to drop out of the race soon after Johanns got in, despite having raised around $1 million since entering the GOP primary contest last spring. Raimondo’s candidacy solves a problem for Cornhusker State Democrats, who had not been able to find a Senate candidate until now.

Both former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) and Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey (D), a former Congressman, rebuffed the efforts of top Democrats to recruit them into the race. Political science professor Scott Kleeb, the 3rd district Democratic nominee in 2006, has yet to decide on a 2008 Senate bid.

“The pundits say this is an uphill battle; that the special interests in Washington have lined up behind my Republican opponent. That is true,” Raimondo said in a statement. “But I have faced tough battles in my life.”

Johanns and Raimondo are running for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Chuck Hagel (R).
— David M. Drucker