Nebraska: Race for the Senate

Even with all of the groundwork that Hagel and his campaign staff did, the fight for the Republican Party nomination and the U.S. Senate seat was tough. The Stenberg and Nelson campaigns noticed that Hagel was gaining on them and they quickly ran negative ads expounding on the new contender's lack of connection with Nebraska, pointing out that he had lived much of his life in Virginia. These ads significantly hurt the campaign making many believe that there was no way Hagel could recover. To make matters more difficult, Hagel refused to run a negative campaign; he did not want to retaliate in kind because he felt that positive campaigning showed a commitment to high principles and Hagel believed Nebraskans would be turned off by negative campaigning. 

It turned out that Hagel was right about negative campaigning. His staff came up with an ad in which campaign volunteers explained how angry they were about the negative ads that were being directed at their candidate. This ad won over so many Nebraskans that Hagel managed to beat Stenberg in a landslide primary race victory. The unknown Nebraska native now had name recognition across the state and a campaign victory under his belt; at this point Hagel turned his eyes toward November, Ben Nelson, and the Senate seat. 

In November of 1996, as the polls closed, everyone in the state waited in anticipation to see who would be the next U.S. Senator of Nebraska. In a surprising turn of events Chuck Hagel, the underdog, managed to come out victorious over Governor Nelson. The Hagel campaign and family were overjoyed. Through all of their hard work, Chuck Hagel would return to Washington, D.C., representing his home state in the federal government. 

Nebraska: Race for the Senate