Fischer Defeats Kerrey for Ben Nelson's Senate Seat - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Fischer Defeats Kerrey for Ben Nelson's Senate Seat

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Defeating a former senator and governor, Republican Deb Fischer won the U.S. Senate race and will take the seat from Democrat Ben Nelson.

"We did it," Fischer proclaimed before an enthusiastic crowd of supporters in Lincoln.

Fischer defeated Democrat Bob Kerrey 58 percent to 42 percent.

In her acceptance speech shortly after, Fischer thanked Kerrey for his service in the United States Navy and service to the country, adding that he had called and given congratulations via the phone. 

Though she was ahead in polls in the week before the election, Fischer, 61, had the odds against her much of the race. A Republican rancher from Valentine, Fischer ran what she called a "grassroots campaign" – and early on, many doubted her race. However, in the primary, she was eventually nominated over two better-known and better-financed GOP candidates.

She told supporters, "You folks were here for me when we weren't given much of a chance at all. But we formed a great grassroots organization, we worked hard, and hey, we are here today, so thank you."

Recently, Fischer was under attack through negative campaign ads over a land dispute she had with her neighbors years ago. Fischer released her own response ad, calling it a "boundary clarification."

Bob Kerrey, 69, is a well-known Nebraskan who is not short of experience. He was elected Nebraska's governor in 1982 after serving in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam—even volunteering for the elite Navy SEAL team. After being governor, Kerrey won election to the U.S. Senate in 1988 and was re-elected in 1994. Twelve years ago, Kerrey moved to New York City– marrying New York writer.  He became the president of The New School, but his contract ended when he was given a vote of ‘no confidence' and booted from the position -- before running his 2012 Election campaign in Nebraska.

Three Nebraska governors -- Dave Heineman, Mike Johanns, and Kay Orr spoke moments before Fischer, setting the stage. Heineman called it a historic win, as Nebraska sends five Republicans to Washington.

For decades, Nebraskans have sent at least one Democrat to Congress. But now, Republicans hold every major statewide office - Senate, House, Governor, Attorney General and more.

As Fischer spoke to the crowd, she thanked those she had met along the way.

"The dignity of that young mother in Grand Island working to raise her family while her husband is off fighting for us. The dignity of grandparents in McCook who have settled down and invested in their community. The dignity of the entrepreneur in Omaha using his or her unique gifts, hard work and willingness to take risks in creating new jobs for all Nebraskans. The dignity of that beginning farmer in Aurora bringing new life from the land."

"I think each of you for placing your trust in me. I will not let you down. I will work hard, I will serve you with honesty and integrity. You know what, we're going to build a better America," she said, before turning to her husband and mother on the stage.

Following Fischer's acceptance speech, she posed for photos and thanked supporters. Like a bride in a receiving line, Fischer was swarmed by people stopping for a hug.

Many central Nebraskans were there for the GOP's "Victory Party" including Farm Bureau President and Vice President Steve Nelson and Mark McHargue, of Axtell and Central City respectively. They said Fischer will represent Nebraska agriculture well.

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