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MILLARD — Sen. Ben Sasse kicked off his reelection campaign Monday with a warning that the choice looming before the nation's voters in 2020 may be between "continuing the American project (or) a switch to socialism."

"There are policy fights we should have," the first-term Republican conservative told a sweltering crowd in a humid hangar at the Millard Airport in late afternoon.

Bottles of water and small hand-held fans were distributed during the event. 

Sasse supporters handed out campaign cards stressing that the senator would continue his work in "standing up for the unborn, fighting illegal immigration and working to confirm President Trump's judicial nominees."

The senator from Fremont has played a key role in the latter effort through his membership on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

An all-star cast of top Republicans, headed by Gov. Pete Ricketts, spoke at the event.  The governor described Sasse as "a real Nebraska conservative (and) a champion for Nebraska agriculture."

Ricketts warned that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York "and her crowd of socialist Democrats in Washington are working night and day to make us a socialist nation."

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said Sasse has delivered "principled conservative leadership" during his first five years in the Senate.

Former Gov. Dave Heineman described him as "one of the most conservative senators," a lawmaker devoted to lower taxes and less regulation.

And former Gov. Kay Orr hailed Sasse's "passionate support for protection of life" and his record as a pro-life senator.

Reps. Jeff Fortenberry and Don Bacon also delivered brief remarks.

The early messaging on Sasse's campaign literature is "Real.Nebraska.Conservative."

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Parked inside the hangar was Sasse's new campaign RV, which is likely to carry him into every county in the state before Nebraskans vote next year.  

In conjunction with Monday's event, the Sasse campaign launched a new fund-raising appeal.

"We've confirmed a record number of conservative judges, cracked down on fentanyl smuggling and sounded the alarm on the crisis at the southern border, but our work is far from over," the fund-raising appeal stated.

Sasse's campaign already has reached the $3 million mark on its way to a $6 million goal. 

"We should secure the border and confirm President Trump's great judicial nominees," Sasse told the crowd in closing his remarks.

"Washington ain't the center of the world," he said, repeating a 2014 theme. "This is the center of the world."

Ahead of him now, he said, is "a 93-county job interview."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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