On Tuesday night, Nebraska state senator Deb Fischer unexpectedly won the Republican primary over a better-funded establishment favorite, attorney general Jon Bruning. Folks curious to know just who Fischer is might want to watch a few her debates with her Republican primary opponents—many are available on YouTube. Fischer’s performances reveal a serious conservative, with populist tendencies.
On the major issues, Fischer is a conservative with plenty of Tea Party tendencies. She opposes Obamacare, believes in cutting spending and keeping taxes low, supports a strong national defense, and believes education is best administered at the local level.
But Democrats and liberals will have a hard time casting Fischer, as they did with Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and other Tea Party Republicans defeated in 2010, as an anti-government nut. Her tone is calm, and her message is, “I’m a leader who wants to get things done.” In pitching herself at a debate in Blair on March 26, Fischer told voters to ask themselves not necessarily who is the most conservative candidate but, “Who’s the conservative who’s been effective?”
During an April 7 debate in Omaha, Fischer, a two-term member of the Nebraska legislature, introduced herself with a list of her legislative achievements. Among those accomplishments were a highway funding bill that Fischer said “recognized that infrastructure is a priority and a responsibility of a limited government.”
In that same debate, Fischer reiterated her support for repealing Obamacare, but added that as an alternative, Republicans ought to pursue a number of policies—tort reform, insurance portability—to lower health care costs.
“The government could look at providing a high-risk health care pool for those that are unable to afford insurance,” Fischer added. “But the federal government has no business telling each and every one of us that we are mandated to buy health care [insurance].”
Spending cuts, Fischer said, have to be done “in a rational way.” But, she cautioned, “It’s not going to happen overnight.”
Fischer appears responsible with her rhetoric, too. Responding to one question about impeaching federal officials who are violating the Constitution, Fischer sat patiently while another candidate spoke at length about the need for Congress to exercise its impeachment powers more frequently. Then, during her answer, she began by saying that as a U.S. senator she would have an obligation to investigate if officials had violated the law. But she said talk of impeachment needed to be measured and responsible.
“It’s easy to sit here and say, yes, I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that. These are serious issues, and these are heavy issues,” Fischer continued, recounting her experience with impeachment proceedings in the Nebraska legislature. “You need to be thoughtful about it, and you need to have the information available.”
Her message seems to be resonating with Nebraskans. The latest Rasmussen poll of the race shows Fischer ahead of her Democratic challenger, former senator Bob Kerrey, by 18 points, 56 percent to 38 percent.