POLITICS
05/09/2014 02:00 pm ET Updated May 09, 2014

Pat Toomey Endorses Ben Sasse In Nebraska Senate Primary

Mark Wilson via Getty Images

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) announced on Friday his endorsement of Ben Sasse for the Nebraska Senate seat soon to be vacated by retiring Republican Mike Johanns.

"In Nebraska, Ben Sasse is the strongest most conservative choice for U.S. Senate," Toomey said in a statement released by the Sasse campaign. “We need to elect a conservative to the U.S. Senate who will join in the fight to reduce the size of government. Ben Sasse is the conservative champion we need in the fight to get our fiscal house in order."

Sasse, who currently serves as president of Midland University in Fremont, is in a heated May 13 Republican primary against former Nebraska state Treasurer Shane Osborn and bank president Sid Dinsdale. The latest external poll, conducted by NSON Opinion Strategy for the Tea Party Express, shows Sasse in a statistical tie with Osborn. Sasse leads by only 2 percentage points, which is within the poll's margin of error.

Sasse has been endorsed by a number of tea party favorites: former vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), as well as 2012 presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).

Toomey is also known for being closely aligned with the tea party, though he partnered in the spring of 2013 with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on a failed bill to expand background checks for prospective gun buyers.

“Senator Toomey is a champion for fiscal restraint and I am honored to have his endorsement,” Sasse said in the release with the endorsement. "We have a debt and deficit crisis in this country, and we can either lead our way out of this crisis or become subject to the will of the debt and credit markets –- we need real fiscal reforms to secure America greatness for our kids and grandkids."

Osborn recently came under fire for stating he had been endorsed by 51 economists when they were actually endorsing only the Ronald Reagan-aligned economic policies that Osborn supports.

This story has been updated to include candidate Sid Dinsdale.

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