Nebraska's U.S. Senate Race: Fischer, Raybould, Schultz Advance

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May 16, 2018 - 12:20am

Republican Deb Fischer, Democrat Jane Raybould and Libertarian Jim Schultz will be on the November ballot in Nebraska’s U.S. Senate race.

It’s been 46 years since a Nebraska U.S. Senate race featuring an incumbent has had so many candidates. But now the field of 10 has been pared-down to three. Republican incumbent Deb Fischer and Democrat Jane Raybould easily won their primary challenges, and Libertarian Jim Schultz was unopposed.



Deb Fischer 127,060 (75.8%)

Todd Watson 19,480 (11.6%)

Jack Heidel 9,304 (5.6%)

Jeffrey Stein 6,343 (3.8%)

Dennis Macek 5,428 (3.2%)


Jane Raybould 57,639 (63.7%)

Chris Janicek 18,152 (20.1%)

Frank Svoboda 10,353 (11.4%)

Larry Marvin 4,317 (4.8%)


Jim Schultz 1,169 (100%)


Deb Fischer is interviewed at her election gathering in Papillion. (All photos by Mike Tobias, NET News)


Jane Raybould is interviewed at her election night gathering in Lincoln.


Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Jim Schultz


Additional Information


Nebraska Republican Party

Nebraska Democratic Party

Nebraska Libertarian Party

Fischer, a 67-year-old rancher and former state senator from Valentine, says she had great support across the state.

“People know who I am," Fischer said in an election-night interview. "We’ve worked together on so many issues for six years. It’s just, it’s very nice to see that support from the people of this state.”

Mid-term elections are often difficult for whatever party is in power, in this case Republicans, and a recent Morning Consult poll showed declining popularity for many U.S. senators. Fischer, though, said she has been effective, works hard and isn’t concerned about a rise in support for Democrats, either locally or nationally.

“I don’t take anything for granted. I see a lot of support," Fischer said. "For me, for the values I represent, for the policies that I work on. I see a lot of support from the people of Nebraska. I don’t think we’re going to see that “blue wave” be coming through Nebraska. And I can tell you on the national scene as well, polling shows that the president is rising in popularity.”

Raybould, a 59-year-old Lincoln city council member who works in the grocery business, said the primary results validate the hard work of her team and volunteers, and her campaign message.

“What I am hearing and Nebraskans are telling me, they’re looking for an independent-minded leader who listens to their constituents and who’s willing to roll up their sleeves, get things done, and end the disfunction that’s going on in Washington," Raybould said.

Raybould and other Nebraska Democrats face a voter registration challenge; less than 30 percent of Nebraskans are registered Democrats, the lowest percentage since voter registration numbers were added to voting reports in the 1960s. About 48 percent of Nebraska voters are registered Republicans.

“It depends on voter turnout, to be honest with you," Raybould said. "We know the numbers look a little bit skewed in favor of the Republicans, but we’re hearing from so many Republicans that they’re concerned about the direction of the Republican Party. They’re dissatisfied with some of the issues that they’re pursuing, they recognize that there is a moral deficiency at the top, and that is very troubling to a lot of Republicans in our state of Nebraska.”

Schultz had a no-stress primary. He was unopposed after a second candidate was disqualified by the secretary of state’s office. Schultz is a 54-year-old retired computer programmer who lives just outside Lincoln. The lifelong Democrat became a Libertarian about a year ago.

“I just found that it was a real home where they actually believed the old, what we call liberal, but it's really the classical liberal ideals of liberty, independence, the dignity of the individual, and not living under an oppressive authoritarian regime, which is where we're headed," Schultz said.

Libertarian Party registration has almost doubled in Nebraska since the 2016 primary, but still accounts for just one percent of registered voters. Schultz, running for office for the first time, said making people more aware of his growing party and what it stands for is one goal of his campaign.

“What exactly it is we hope to get out of the campaign is not exactly the same as what the old parties are looking," Schultz said. "They're just looking at a straight-up win. We're looking at, can we increase our numbers, can we move the other candidates, can we win. People keep saying, ‘Well, a third party will never win.’ Well, they also said Donald Trump would never win.”

Nebraska Libertarians have struggled to make a mark in statewide races, although a secretary of state candidate received 25 percent of the vote in 2014 which gave the party ballot access through this year. That access will continue if a Libertarian tops 5 percent in the general election, or the party has at least 10,000 registered voters.

Republicans enter the general election with a huge money advantage, according to end of April Federal Election Commission filings. Fischer raised more than $4 million in the last two years and has $2.5 million on hand. Raybould raised $800,000 and has $300,000 on hand. Schultz has not filed an FEC report, which is not required until you raise or spend $5,000.



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