Open thread: The Nebraska GOP Senate primary

Wish we’d spent more time covering this given how interesting the race has become over the past week or so but here’s an eleventh-hour open thread for those who’ve been following it at other righty sites like Red State. Three candidates: Jon Bruning, the state AG and establishment favorite; Don Stenberg, the state treasurer and initial grassroots favorite; and Deb Fischer, a state senator who’s come on strong lately thanks to Bruning and Stenberg tearing each apart, a timely endorsement from Sarah Palin, and a bit of anti-Bruning Super PAC intervention on her behalf from TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts. He’s not the only outsider chipping in for the anti-Bruning effort either:

Although he didn’t raise as much money as Bruning, Stenberg was able to remain competitive in the money race with the help of third-party groups. The anti-tax group Club for Growth and DeMint’s political committee, the Senate Conservatives Fund, spent more than $2.1 million in the race on Stenberg’s behalf.

However, the $722,000 spent by Club for Growth may have helped Fischer as well. The group spent their money on television advertisements that criticized Bruning on spending and tax issues, without mentioning their support for Stenberg.

It is clear that the money spent by Club for Growth took its toll on Bruning. Several voters, including Tim Michaelsen of Columbus, said they originally supported Bruning but now have their doubts based on the group’s television ads.

According to two new polls, it’s now a two-person race between Bruning and Fischer with Stenberg a distant third but still holding on to 16-18 percent of the vote. One of the mysteries tonight is whether the conservatives who are sticking by him will write him off as a sure loser and back Fischer in hopes of defeating Bruning or whether they’re willing to risk a Bruning victory by going down with the ship. The polls close at 9 p.m. ET but given the tightness of the race, don’t expect results for a few hours. The winner stands a very good chance of bumping off Bob Kerrey for Ben Nelson’s soon-to-be-vacant seat so, yes, this election does matter.

Here’s the Secretary of State’s election results page so that you can follow along. While we wait, via, enjoy this endorsement of Palin’s hopey-changey critique of Obama from … Noam Chomsky?

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