July 29, 2014

No endorsement, but Sen. Johanns critical of Senate campaign (AUDIO)

Sen. Mike Johanns talks with a constituent at a coffee

Sen. Mike Johanns talks with a constituent at a coffee

Sen. Mike Johanns declines to endorse any candidate for his seat, but doesn’t think much of the campaign being waged.

Johanns sees a troubling trend in the four-man race to succeed him.

“I think Nebraskans are extremely discerning. They know a number of things about this. Number one, they know that this massive investment of dollars that we see in our state is not without consequence,” Johanns tells Nebraska reporters in a conference call. “Of course, those making the investment expect something in return. It’s just so obvious to every Nebraskan and it’s so obvious to me. They expect something in return.”

Johanns says he makes no distinction between a candidate’s campaign and the campaign of a third party from which he sought an endorsement. Johanns says candidates are attempting to distance themselves from the campaigns of special interest groups they cultivated.

“If you seek the endorsement and you get the endorsement and they come in and do the dirty work, then by golly I think it’s all part and parcel of the same campaign,” according to Johanns. “I appreciate that you can’t work together and this and that, but at the end of the day, you’ve sought the endorsement.”

Candidates cannot coordinate their campaigns with the campaigns of third party groups under federal law, even if the special interest groups support the candidate’s campaign.

As for any endorsement, Johanns says Nebraska voters don’t need him to tell them how to vote.

“They’re figuring this out. They’re working their way through. They don’t have to have me tell them which direction to go on their vote. I’m not going to do that,” Johanns says, adding that Nebraskans have to be concerned about the tremendous amount of outside money being spent in the campaign.

Republicans in the United States Senate primary include Midland University President Ben Sasse, former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, Pinnacle Bancorp President Sid Dinsdale, and Omaha lawyer Bart McLeay. Omaha lawyer David Domina has filed as a Democrat for the seat.

AUDIO:  Sen. Mike Johanns comments on the GOP US Senate primary. [3:25]