The Nebraska state primary turned into a close contest between the former GOP front-runner Attorney General Jon Bruning and former state senator Deb Fischer, whose campaign lurched forward after Sarah Palin endorsed her.
Fischer also received $200,000 worth of anti-Bruning political ads last weekend from a "super PAC" controlled by Chicago Cubs co-owner Joe Ricketts, small potatoes compared to the millions of dollars spent on behalf of her two nearest opponents. Nevertheless, Deb Fischer, emboldened by Sarah Palin's endorsement, won the opportunity to face down Bob Kerrey, the former senator who once said 911 was a 30-year-old conspiracy.
For her part, Sarah Palin is the conservative woman that liberals and much of the media love to hate. But Palin's endorsement has helped put many previously unknown conservatives in office to the delight of her conservative fan base that includes tens of millions of women.
However, Fischer's own ad campaign gained significant attention too during her successful campaign. Ms. Fischer’s ad features two large bulls tagged with her opponents' names – Bruning and state Treasurer Don Stenberg – and asks voters, "tired of political bull?"
Fischer, a relatively unknown candidate who has never won a statewide election and campaigned on a shoestring budget, edged ahead in polls after Palin’s endorsement despite over $2 million being spent on behalf of Stenburg's campaign. Analysts indicated Palin's endorsement played a pivital role in her come-from-behind victory Tuesday.
An automated survey conducted Sunday by the polling firm We Ask America showed Fischer in first place with 39 percent, compared with Bruning's 34 percent and 18 percent for Mr. Stenberg.
A second poll by Fischer-backer Ricketts, showed Fischer in a close second place, at 35 percent to Bruning's 38 percent.
While the polls taken before the election were inconclusive, Fischer defeated Bruning 41 to 36 percent with Stenberg trailing far behind at 19 percent; analysts did not anticipate Fischer’s late surge in the polls. "Some Republicans in the state are less comfortable with Bruning and don’t know if Stenberg is the best person to run against Bob Kerrey, and that’s created opening for Deb Fischer," says Michael Wagner, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, shortly before the election.
Until recently, political pundits and analysts assumed Attorney General Jon Bruning would win the primary and take on Democrat Bob Kerrey, the former US senator and governor, in November.
Meanwhile, Kerry is still struggling to return from the political brink of a firestorm that erupted after he claimed the World Trade Center’s twin towers 911 attack and the assault on the Pentagon by terrorists were part of a 30-year-old conspiracy. Many voters are having problems understanding the high-ranking Democrat could make such an absurd charge after serving on the national committee that investigated the infamous terrorist attack. No doubt the attached video of Kerrey claiming 911 was a 30-year-old conspiracy will be played over and over as pundits discuss his judgement and gauge his ability to govern.
The Nebraska Senate race is key to the Republican's plan to take control of the Senate from Harry Reid and the Democrats. Democrats lose control of the Senate if Republicans net four seats, however only three seats would shift power to the Republicans should Mitt Romney defeat Barack Obama in November.