Delegates to the State Republican Convention in Nebraska dealt a near unanimous reprimand to Sen. Ben Sasse on Saturday for his outspoken support for the “Never Trump” effort designed to deny presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump the presidency in November.
Sen. Ben Sasse’s reprimand passed by a voice vote, which a reporter at the event said was at least 400 to 8.
“It was a lopsided vote. The ‘ayes’ in the room of more than 400 had an audible win. Only about six or eight yelled ‘nay,’” Robynn Tysver, staff writer for the Omaha World-Herald, tweeted from the event as it happened.
“[T]he Nebraska freshman found himself rebuked Saturday by party loyalists upset at his call for a third candidate to arise and give conservatives such as himself an alternative to Donald Trump in the fall election,” the hometown World-Herald reported of Sasse’s Saturday debacle.
Not only did “[d]elegates at the State Republican Convention overwhelmingly [pass the] resolution opposing Sasse’s call for a third candidate” in the voice vote, delegates doubled down in their support of Trump as the presumptive nominee.
“They roundly rejected a counterresolution that sought to condemn the presumptive GOP presidential nominee for making ‘degrading’ comments toward women and minorities,” the World-Herald reported.
It was a huge hometown comeuppance for the young Nebraska senator who easily won his first political race in 2014.
Though the former official in the George W. Bush Department of Health and Human Services has been popular in his home state until Saturday, the utter rejection of the “Never Trump” efforts he has championed is sure to hurt his credibility with GOP voters in Nebraska.
His strongly conservative voting record on all matters except trade, where Trump is strongest, kept people from even speculating about a primary challenge when he runs for re-election in 2020. But now — with his “Never Trump” effort becoming a hugely unpopular misstep back home — that clear path to renomination may be in question.
As the World-Herald reported, the seeds of doubt in Nebraska about Sasse have now been sown:
Despite being upset with Sasse over Trump, many delegates in the room said they continued to have deep respect for the Republican. In fact, a majority gave Sasse two standing ovations during his speech, although pockets of delegates pointedly refused to stand and almost everyone got a standing ovation at the convention on Saturday.
“I’m disappointed” with Sasse, said Jill Woodward of the Elkhorn area. “We all grow into our jobs, and I’m certainly not giving up on Sasse by any stretch of the imagination.”
“He should realize he lines up more with Trump than Clinton,” said Jordan Janssen of Lincoln.
For his part, Sasse seemed unwilling to face the heat his “Never Trump” stance has generated back home.
“On Saturday, however, Sasse did not want to talk about Trump in the slightest,” the World-Herald reported.
Though Sasse’s speech at the convention received two standing ovations, the World-Herald reported that Sam Fischer, nephew of Sen. Deb Fischer, and a veteran in his own right of GOP politics in Nebraska said, “it indicated more the inherent politeness of Nebraskans and the respect they hold for officeholders than support for Sasse.”