LINCOLN — Controversy over Ted Nugent's comments about the president has spilled over into a Nebraska legislative race.
State Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln has canceled a campaign fundraiser planned with the outspoken musician, hunter and gun rights advocate.
“His presence at a fundraiser was getting to be too distracting,” Coash said Tuesday. “I don't need to raise money in this way.”
Coash, however, plans a low-key gathering during which invited friends can meet Nugent. It will not be a campaign event.
“We're going to move forward with this and put this behind us,” he said.
The original event was to be May 10 at the Hilton Omaha, before Nugent's concert with the bands Styx and REO Speedwagon in Council Bluffs.
Nugent was to talk to the gathering about a constitutional amendment that will appear on the fall ballot to protect hunting, fishing and trapping. Tickets to a VIP reception were $500, while tickets for a general reception were $100.
Coash called off the public event, citing the controversy over Nugent's comments at the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis.
Nugent earned a visit from the Secret Service by saying: “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”
He also said of the Obama administration: “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November.”
Coash said he had heard from many people who were calling the event inappropriate.
He also said he was getting questions about security for the event, which was set for the same day and same hotel as a fundraiser for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
“It was becoming bigger than it needed to be,” he said.
Among those criticizing the event was Kyle Michaelis, who is running against Coash for the District 27 legislative seat.
Michaelis called on Coash to denounce Nugent's “hateful political rhetoric.”
Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska called for Coash to cut ties with Nugent and cancel all events with him.
Even without the Nugent fund-raiser, Coash has raised nearly $71,000 toward his re-election campaign. Michaelis has raised almost $7,000.
Coash told a Lincoln radio station he became friends with Nugent because of a bow string factory in his hometown of Bassett.
Nugent, known as a bow-hunter, was among the factory's customers.
Coash's grandfathers were the original investors in the factory.
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