Nebraskans choose insurgent for Senate

May 16, 2012, Wednesday/ 13:35:00/ AP

Nebraska Republicans chose a little-known ranch owner and state lawmaker to go against a famous Democratic politician in a competitive race that could prove pivotal in their drive to win back control of the US Senate in the November election.

On the presidential front, Republican Mitt Romney continued to pile up the delegates he will need to claim the Republican nomination, but he has already moved into general election mode against President Barack Obama. In Nebraska, popular former Sen. Bob Kerrey, who is seeking to reclaim his old seat, easily captured the Democratic nomination against three lesser-known candidates in Tuesday's primary.

Nebraska Republicans, knowing they needed to find someone to go toe-to-toe with Kerrey in November, could have opted for one of two statewide office holders - Attorney General Jon Bruning or Treasurer Don Stenberg, both of whom were better funded and better known. Instead, they chose Deb Fischer, a ranch owner who was elected to the Legislature in 2004 and whose major push didn't come until days before Tuesday's primary. That's when she landed the endorsement of 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and 2012 presidential candidate Herman Cain and received a $200,000 ad blitz from a super political action committee bankrolled by TD Ameritrade founder and Chicago Cubs co-owner Joe Ricketts. With all the precincts reporting, Fischer had 41 percent of the vote to Bruning's 36 percent, with Stenberg a distant third at 19 percent.

“As recently as a week ago, Deb Fischer was dismissed by the establishment. Why?” Palin wrote on her Facebook page Tuesday night. “Because she is not part of the good old boys' permanent political class. The message from the people of Nebraska is simple and powerful: America is looking for real change in Washington, and commonsense conservatives like Deb Fischer represent that change.”

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