Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ben Sasse got a big boost Tuesday from a conservative group with strong Tea Party ties and a history of pouring cash into targeted races.
The Senate Conservatives Fund is backing Sasse, calling him a “strong conservative” who will help repeal President Barack Obama's health care law.
“He's smart, principled and he's not afraid to tackle tough issues,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund.
Sasse, 41, said he was “honored” to have the group's endorsement.
“I am fully committed to stopping Obamacare and articulating a constructive, conservative governing vision for this country,” Sasse said in a press release.
Sasse, who is president of Midland University in Fremont, is one of four Nebraska Republicans seeking the party's nomination in the May primary. The others are former State Treasurer Shane Osborn, Omaha lawyer Bart McLeay and Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale.
The group has a history of getting involved — and spending money — in U.S. Senate races in Nebraska.
Last year, the group spent more than $1.3 million on behalf of Don Stenberg's failed U.S. Senate bid. Stenberg lost the Republican nomination to Deb Fischer.
The Senate Conservatives Fund then backed Fischer in the general election, spending $477,000 in support of her successful campaign against Democrat Bob Kerrey.
The group was founded by former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who now is president of the Heritage Foundation.
In the past, the Senate Conservatives Fund has helped to get several Tea Party favorites elected, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, and U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah.
Most recently, the group was a key backer of Cruz's strategy to defund the health care law by linking it to the federal budget. That strategy led to a 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government.
Sasse served in former President George W. Bush's administration as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He has made his opposition to Obama's health care law a cornerstone of his campaign, saying he will do what it takes to repeal the measure.
Sasse, who is making his first bid for public office, has proven to be a force in the race. Earlier this month, he reported raising $815,000 in less than two months — a considerable sum for someone who is relatively unknown in the state.