Fischer wins Nebraska Senate race

Published: Nov. 6, 2018 at 8:49 PM CST
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Republican Sen. Deb Fischer held off a challenge from Democrat Jane Raybould on Tuesday to win a second term.

Fischer went into Election Day as the favorite to win in heavily-Republican Nebraska, with her campaign raising $6.3 million -- more than three times Raybould's total of $2 million.

Fischer credited her election team and boots-on-the-ground campaigning for her win in a tough election year.

Both sides flooded the television airwaves with ads in the final weeks before the election, touting their connections to the state. Fischer emphasized her role as a rancher in Nebraska's rural Sandhills region. Raybould, a Lincoln city councilwoman and former county commissioner, pushed her business experience and working-class roots helping with her family's grocery store chain.

Conversely, Raybould sought to portray Fischer as a Washington insider who votes with her party even when it hurts Nebraska residents. She pointed to Fischer's support of a GOP health care bill that would have replaced the Affordable Care Act, but raised insurance costs in Nebraska faster than other states.

Fischer pushed back, pointing to her work on her work on Senate committees that focus on agriculture and the military, both important areas to Nebraska with its farm economy and Offutt Air Force Base.

The candidates also differed on their support for new U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who faced sexual assault allegations during his confirmation process. Kavanaugh denied the allegations. Fischer voted to confirm Kavanaugh, while Raybould said the allegations merited further investigation.

Fischer suggested in her victory speech Tuesday night that Nebraska voters were turned off by aggressive ads for her opponent.

"It shouldn't be about personal attacks," Fischer said. "It should be about your record."

Fischer's message and name recognition resonated with many voters, particularly those with roots in the state's vast, rural 3rd District -- one of the largest and most Republican congressional districts in the nation.

Mark Lutjeharms, 46, of Lincoln, said he voted for Fischer because he believes she reflects the views of most Nebraskans. He particularly liked Fischer's advocacy for rural parts of the state, including Harlan County, where he was raised.

"I voted on what I thought was best for Nebraska," Lutjeharms said.

Joelly Anderson, 20, a speech pathology student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, also voted for Fischer, citing the senator's experience.

"Keeping people who are qualified for the job is important," said Anderson, who grew up in the south-central Nebraska city of Lexington.

Fischer was first elected in 2012 after a surprise win in Nebraska's Republican primary over two better-known candidates. She defeated Democrat Bob Kerrey, a former governor and U.S. senator, in the general election.

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