Profile: Senate Candidate Deb Fischer

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April 24, 2018 - 1:00pm

Incumbent Deb Fischer is one of five Republicans running for U.S. Senate this year. We profile the Valentine native as part of our Campaign Connection 2018 election coverage.

Deb Fischer wants to extend her political career with a second term in the U.S. Senate.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sen. Deb Fischer (Photo by Mike Tobias, NET News)


Other Resources

Fischer for Senate web page

Fischer for Senate Facebook

KETV "Chronicle" interview with Fischer


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Todd Watson (R)

(Note: Since Libertarian candidate Jim Schultz is uncontested we are not including him in our primary profiles, but plan to include him in our general election coverage.)


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GOP officials in Nebraska's two largest counties excluding some candidates in voter information (April 17, 2018)


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Libertarian (not contested in primary)


Campaign Connection 2018 is the home for NET News coverage of the 2018 elections.

“You always have to think about it, and I look at what we've accomplished,” Fischer said. “When I say, ‘we've accomplished,’ that means working with the people in Nebraska. And we've done a lot, we've been able to get a lot of things done, I think I've been very effective in the United States Senate. When I ran, I said I was going to develop relationships, which is what I did in the Nebraska Legislature because I think it's important to be able to work with people, not just Republicans, but Republicans, Democrats, always out listening to your constituents, that's how you get good policy, and that's how you get things passed.”

Fischer said those accomplishments include helping pass highway funding and human trafficking bills, chairing the Senate Armed Services sub-committee that deals with missile defense, and passage of a paid family leave proposal.

“It's a voluntary program that offers tax incentives to businesses who use it,” Fischer said, talking about the family leave legislation. “It targets people who don't have access to leave. It's targeting hourly workers, so they can take off an hour or two to take care of their kids, and it's a pilot program. It doesn't establish this government program forever. I want to know if it works before we have this program set in stone because seems like once you get a government program, it never goes away.”

The 67-year-old Republican was born and raised in Lincoln, but marriage led her to life as a cattle rancher south of Valentine. She later earned an education degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Fischer entered politics in 2004, winning the first of two terms in the Nebraska Unicameral. Term-limited out of the Legislature, she entered the 2012 U.S. Senate race and defeated two higher profile Republicans in the primary and former Senator Bob Kerrey in the general election.

History tells us that U.S. Senators from Nebraska rarely face primary challengers when running for re-election. That last happened in 1972, when Republican Carl Curtis had three challengers in the Republican primary. (Note: in 1988 David Karnes was challenged in the GOP primary by Hal Daub; Karnes was the incumbent, but had been appointed to fill the seat and was running for the first time that year.)

Fischer has four Republican challengers this year. “I think it's always important that the people who are interested and want to be involved, get involved. A robust primary is always good. I think it strengthens candidates.”

Unlike some of her Republican U.S. Senate colleagues, Fischer has rarely been openly critical of President Donald Trump. “The president, obviously, has his own way of communicating. Is it the way I do? No. But it's the way he communicates, and he communicates with the majority of Nebraskans that way. He won 60 percent of the vote here in the state of Nebraska. I would say to you that his support is still there, it is strong, and it is deep.”

Fischer has voted in line with Trump’s position on issues more than 90 percent of the time, and says her office has a good working relationship with the president. She’s pleased with many policy decisions coming from the White House, like suspension of the Waters of the United States rule, but says White House delays in implementing sanctions against Russia for election meddling were “very frustrating.”

Fischer voted for the Republican tax plan passed at the end of last year, but did not vote for the recent $1.3 trillion budget that also passed, saying the omnibus aspect that lumped everything into one bill was “not a good way to run government.”

“That was a hard vote for me because I fought hard to get military spending in there, so that our troops were going to be provided for,” Fischer said. “I fought hard to get them that pay increase that they haven't seen for years. I had some good things in that bill. Some of my bills were included in it, but in the end, that's not the way we should be doing business, that's not the way you run a government. We should be taking up individual appropriations bills. We should have to make those tough votes, that's the only way Nebraskans can hold me accountable."

On guns and the Second Amendment, Fischer talks about bills she supported related to school security and improved reporting of background checks (“FixNICS”). She would not be in favor of an assault weapons ban. “I don't believe that was effective,” Fischer said, referring to the ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004, “and I don't believe that that would solve the core problem that we are facing, which is a mental health issue, and which is a security issue.”

She does support a pathway to citizenship for individuals in the DACA program who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children, and says when it comes to immigration policy, border security is her starting point. “What it means to me is that we know we have a secure border. I've been to the southern border, I have talked to border patrol, there are places where you need a wall. These men and women who are down there every day tell me that, but there are also places where you can have a fence. There are places where you can use technology.”

Fischer has high approval ratings from pro-life organizations for her opposition to abortion. A member of the Senate agriculture committee, she’s said she’s “very concerned about China’s proposed list of retaliatory tariffs” and said she “spoke directly to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short to emphasize the significant market loss Nebraska producers would face should these tariffs be finalized. Such action would not only hurt ag producers; it would hit our entire state because agriculture is the economic engine of Nebraska.”

Fischer calls Russia “a threat on many levels.” “They are not a friend of the United States and that always has to be kept in mind when we talk about Russia.”

Fischer has a big money advantage in this race. At the end of March she had more than $2.6 million in campaign funds on hand, easily surpassing any other Nebraska Senate candidate. But one challenge may be the declining popularity of many U.S. Senators. A recent Morning Consult poll found that 43 percent of constituents approve and 35 percent disapprove of Fischer’s job performance. A year ago she had 56 percent approval.

Fischer said she’s been effective. “I have been a hard worker. I have been straight forward and honest. And I have been in Nebraska just about every single weekend, listening to Nebraskans. I understand the issues of this state. I fight hard for this state.”



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