The Fix: Deb Fischer

Republican Deb Fischer wins Nebraska Senate race

Republican Deb Fischer wins Nebraska Senate race

State Sen. Deb Fischer (R) won the Nebraska Senate race Tuesday and willsucceedretiring Sen. Ben Nelson (D) in the upper chamber. Fischer defeated Democrat Bob Kerrey, a former Cornhusker State senator and governor.

Fischer led Kerrey 58 percent to 42 percent, with 70 percent ofprecinctsreporting. The Associated Press has called the race for her.

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The Fix moves Nebraska Senate from ‘solid Republican’ to ‘lean Republican’

Former senator Bob Kerrey (D) has closed the gap on state Sen. Deb Fischer (R) in the open Nebraska Senate race and now appears to be giving his party a chance to hold on to the seat.

Accordingly, The Fix is moving the Nebraska Senate race from “solid Republican” to “lean Republican.”

This is for two main reasons:

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Deb Fischer’s knight in super PAC armor: Joe Ricketts

The Club for Growth, Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) Senate Conservatives Fund, the Tea Party Express and FreedomWorks all backed losing candidates in Tuesday’s Senate primary in Nebraska.

But one outside group emerged victorious, and you should expect to hear more from it.

The Ending Spending Action Fund super PAC, funded by Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, whose family also owns the Chicago Cubs, made a mark in Nebraska with a targeted and very late $250,000 ad buy on behalf of Deb Fischer. The buy came just when momentum had shifted to Fischer and was double the amount the state senator spent on ads for herself. And in a close race, it might have made the difference for her.

But Ricketts’s ties to Omaha (where Ameritrade is based) don’t mean he’s done now that the Nebraska primary is over.

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Deb Fischer, and what (political) money can’t buy

Only about one-tenth of the money spent in Tuesday’s Nebraska GOP Senate primary was spent on Deb Fischer’s behalf.

Yet the little-known state senator emerged victorious over both the establishment-favored candidate and a favorite of the tea party — both of whom, we should note, are statewide elected officials.

Who says candidates don’t matter and money is everything?
Don Stenberg, left, and Deb Fischer during a Nebraska Republican Senate candidate debate. (Jeff Beiermann, AP)

Fischer’s win in the primary Tuesday is a testament to the fact that politics is still about campaigns and that money isn’t the be-all, end-all.

While Fischer’s win wasn’t necessarily a tea party win, it was reminiscent of the insurgent GOP candidacies of 2010, in which a candidate’s character and politics often meant more than money and infrastructure.

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