Republican Deb Fischer won Nebraska’s open U.S. Senate seat, defeating former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey in his attempt to return to Congress 12 years after his retirement.
Kerrey, 69, who retired from the Senate in 2001 after two terms, entered the race after Democratic incumbent Ben Nelson said he wouldn’t seek a third term.
Fischer, a 61-year-old state senator, won a three-way primary after receiving the endorsement of Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008.
Fischer portrayed Kerrey as an outsider, featuring his image in an ad superimposed on a picture of the skyline of New York, where he was president of the New School for a decade.
She also sought to capitalize on President Barack Obama’s low approval ratings in Nebraska, accusing Kerrey of seeking to advance the president’s agenda. She promised to repeal Obama’s 2010 health-care overhaul law.
Kerrey won the endorsements of two former Republican U.S. senators, Nebraska’s Chuck Hagel and Alan Simpson of Wyoming. Simpson was co-chairman of Obama’s bipartisan commission on deficit reduction.
In a statement posted on Kerrey’s website, Simpson said he endorsed his former Senate colleague because “he has told Nebraskans” about the need for “stabilizing Medicare and Medicaid.” Kerrey proposed $409 billion worth of Medicare cuts over a decade.
Nelson, the only Nebraska Democrat elected to statewide office, wasn’t always a reliable vote for his party in the Senate. Last year he opposed extending the government’s borrowing authority, and he voted against the final version of Obama’s health-care law.