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Nebraska Senate Field Grows #NESEN

Osborn is running for Senate. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)
Osborn is running for Senate. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

The Nebraska Senate GOP field is beginning to take shape this week, as one Republican moves toward entering the race and another appears likely to seek a different office.

According to The Associated Press, Midland University President Ben Sasse filed paperwork Monday with the Nebraska secretary of state’s office to incorporate “Ben Sasse for U.S. Senate.” If Sasse, who has been on a statewide listening tour, has filed with the Federal Election Commission, it is not yet available online.

Meanwhile, sources close to Pete Ricketts, a wealthy businessman and 2006 Republican nominee for Senate, indicated that he is leaning toward seeking the governorship rather than another bid for Senate. Leavenworth Street, a conservative blog in Nebraska, reported July 18 that Ricketts is all but officially running for governor.

Republicans considering running for the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Mike Johanns were in a holding pattern until May 25, when Gov. Dave Heineman announced he would not run. Four days later, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, the most likely of the state’s three congressmen to run, said he would run for re-election instead.

Within a week of Heineman’s announcement, Shane Osborn, a former state treasurer and naval aviator, announced he was running. He then jumped out to a fundraising head start, raising $234,000 in the second quarter and ending June with $229,000 in cash on hand.

The only other Republican in the race at this point is attorney Bart McLeay, who has not yet filed with the FEC.

There are no Democrats currently in the race, and the general election is unlikely to be competitive after the party’s 2012 nominee, former Sen. Bob Kerrey, lost by 16 points.

The race is rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.