A few days ago, I had a chance to catch up with Nebraska attorney general Jon Bruning, who recently announced he was challenging Senator Chuck Hagel in the Republican primary. Hagel's positions against the war in Iraq and for the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill have placed him at odds with most conservatives. Read on to see Bruning explain why "conservatives need a voice," share some of his campaign's internal polling, and talk about his own record, one he says consists of "zero maverick moments."
Bruning was re-elected to the attorney general's office last November unopposed. To learn more, visit his Web site at www.JonBruning.com.
PR: Challenging an incumbent is always daunting. How's it going so far?
JB: It's going spectacularly well by almost any measure. We've gotten a steady stream of emails from Nebraskans and even others out-state, saying "How do I help? How do I help you from Minnesota, how do I help you from Arizona?" And of course Nebraskans who feel very passionately about their state and the fact that they elected a Republican to act like one.
Frankly, that's what kicked me into this race in the first place. Initially when Hagel did his strange little press conference on March 12 when he said, "I don't know what I'm going to do," and the national media was very angry and Nebraskans were very embarrassed and the whole thing was a bit odd, I came out a couple of days later and said, "Yeah, I'll think about running, but I won't run against Hagel." I had always been a Hagel supporter, but I was just growing more and more frustrated.
In 2004, we had to listen to John Kerry in the debates quoting Hagel to our President. It was painful for Nebraskans, and more and more he was breaking with the President, and more and more he was doing it in a way that was an attempt to embarrass the President and the Republican Party. In March of this year, he votes with the Democrats on the strict timeline for troop withdrawal, and he talks about the impeachment of the President, and I just had had it, and thought, "You know what, I'm in a position to do something about this." Conservatives need a voice. And so ultimately in early April I decided I was going to run.
PR: I was going to mention that press conference. Three months later, we're still not sure what office he's running for. Does it help or hurt you to have such an elusive opponent?