Fischer's Late Momentum Leads to Upset Win in Nebraska's GOP Senate Primary

May 16, 2012 02:13 AM
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Will take on ex-Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) in race to succeed retiring Sen. Ben Nelson (D)

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

In an upset, state Sen. Deb Fischer (R) on Tuesday won Nebraska's GOP Senate primary and will now face ex-Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Ben Nelson (D).

Fischer won the primary with 41%, followed by state Attorney General Jon Bruning with 36%, and state Treasurer Don Stenberg with 19%.

The Lincoln Journal Star (link) reported that Fischer's "late surge, perhaps unprecedented in modern-day Nebraska political history, upended a contest "that appeared to be settled as recently as 10 days ago with the GOP prize within the grasp of...Bruning. Fischer suddenly gained momentum with late endorsements from...Sarah Palin and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry...then rode the momentum of a weekend TV ad blitz mounted by Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts and his super PAC,” which aired spots backing Fischer and bashing Bruning.

The Omaha World-Herald (link) reported that Fischer scored "an unlikely victory" after having been "widely perceived as a distant third just weeks ago." Fischer's ascent "came as many Republicans confronted doubts about" Bruning, who "was criticized for growing wealthy while in public office by investing in more than a dozen businesses with college and high school friends. The anti-tax group Club for Growth pummeled Bruning with ads critical of the attorney general for raising his office's budget. As Bruning's support slipped over the campaign's final week, voters fled to Fischer over Stenberg."

Comments: Despite being a relative novice in the race, Fischer, a rancher from the rancher from the Sandhills region of the state, has been a state Senator since 2004 and could be a strong candidate in November, said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor at the Cook Political Report in Washington. "She's got a good profile for the state. She does have some experience and I think that she gets some momentum out of the win," Duffy said, adding that Fischer is likely to beat Kerrey in November. Kerrey told the Associated Press: "I'm not going to present myself as the winner. I'm not going to present myself as superior. If the voters decide they want me, they'll get six years of hard work."

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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