June, 2011

Fischer Announcement News Coverage

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Deb’s Announcement Speech Video

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Deb Fischer’s Announcement Speech

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Thank you for gathering here today. Today, I am officially announcing my candidacy for U.S. Senate.

I’m running for the United States Senate to help America regain its economic strength and rebuild its cultural foundations.

America must meet a new generation of challenges by strengthening our economy, balancing our books, and in Nebraska, revitalizing our communities.

Nebraskans are ready for representation in the US Senate that is real and genuine rather than all the political posturing and sound bites. We value saying what you mean and meaning what you say, we value hard work, common sense, and conservative values – and that’s what you can expect from me in Washington.

Unfortunately, what we’ve come to expect from Senator Ben Nelson is a rubberstamp for the failed economic policies of the Obama Administration. Ben Nelson cast key, deciding votes for Obamacare and the Stimulus Package. Ben Nelson lined up with Washington and supported the bailout. His record demonstrates that he represents the agenda of President Obama and Washington D.C., not Nebraska. It’s time for a change.

I’m not a career politician. I’m a wife, mother, rancher, small business owner and a citizen legislator. It has not been my lifelong ambition to have the title of United States Senator. I started in public service by serving on our local school board because I care about education, then I ran for Legislature to offer solutions on issues that impact all Nebraskans – like education, tax relief, economic development and roads funding. Now I’m running for the United States Senate because I believe Washington needs a conservative with Nebraska common sense and honest, effective representation.

I have been encouraged to run by Nebraskans across our state because I’ve been a state Senator who gets things done. We need that for our state. Texas has 34 federal office holders, California gets 55, but Nebraska gets only 5. There are only 5 voices for us in Washington D.C. – that’s why we need effective leadership to fight for our state every day.

As a State Senator, I helped pass the largest tax relief package in Nebraska History and a landmark roads bill. I have a record of a proven fiscal conservative; I believe in limited, effective government and my record as a legislator demonstrates I’ve done exactly that. I will take that conservative, common sense philosophy to the U.S. Senate.

My philosophy of limited government will continue in the U.S. Senate. In the Senate, I will lead the fight to cut spending and reduce the deficit. I will vote to repeal Obamacare. When President Obama & the Democrats try to raise taxes, I will say NO. If you send me to the Senate, Nebraska will have another voice against the Washington’s D.C’s “Tax and Spend” mentality.

The most important job of the federal government is to help keep us safe and secure. Our brave troops have performed their duty to protect all of us admirably and effectively. They need our support. In the Senate, I will not play politics with our security. I will give our military the tools they need. And I will make sure that fighting terrorism is a top priority of the federal government, not an afterthought

In Washington D.C., it is all too common for politicians to compromise their principles and support bad policies that are popular in the short run and detrimental in the long run. With our national debt approaching 15 Trillion, that misguided decision-making has failed our children and grandchildren.

Nebraska deserves someone who is committed to serving the long-term interests of the American people. Politicians can’t delay on our future anymore, we must get to work. We need to strengthen our economy, balance our books, and revitalize our communities. Those are the key issues of our time and taking leadership on those issues is why I’m running U.S. Senate.

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Fischer drops hints on Senate bid

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Published Thursday June 9, 2011

Fischer drops hints on Senate bid

By Robynn Tysver

LINCOLN — Buckle up, Nebraska voters.

The state’s budding U.S. Senate race has the makings of an expensive and thrilling ride, including the growing likelihood of another Republican contender.

State Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine appears on the brink of announcing her candidacy, which would set up a GOP primary scramble with three strong candidates.

Fischer has booked herself for several Nebraska parades, including one on the Fourth of July in Seward, Neb., and another this weekend in Blair — far from her north-central Nebraska legislative district.

She told The World-Herald she would make an announcement soon.

If she gets in, the flavor of the Republican primary changes. What had been a two-way battle between GOP statewide officeholders Jon Bruning and Don Stenberg could become a free-for-all.

“It reshuffles the deck,” said John Hibbing, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

GOP interest in the 2012 race is fueled by the perception that Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson is ripe for defeat after casting the 60th vote for President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Indeed, several national political groups and trade publications tag Nelson among the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrats. Nelson has not formally committed to a re-election bid, but he appears to be a candidate. He has hired campaign staff, maintains a robust political operation and is actively raising money.

If he runs, the Senate contest could become a $20 million-plus race, with outside interest groups pouring money into political advertisements, said Paul Johnson, Nelson’s campaign manager.

Already, groups such as the national Tea Party Express organization have prioritized Nelson’s defeat.

And the interest is stoking Republican hopes.

Fischer’s entry could add several dimensions.

The question of whom her candidacy hurts or helps is debatable. Regardless, her entry would pave the way for a fractured primary in which a winning candidate might need only 30 to 40 percent of the vote.

For now, three candidates have officially announced for the GOP race, including Bruning, Nebraska’s attorney general, and Don Stenberg, the state’s treasurer. Pat Flynn, a Schuyler businessman, is the third Republican candidate.

Bruning is considered the current front-runner. In his last financial disclosure reports, his campaign showed more than $1 million in the bank, compared with $14,000 each for Stenberg and Flynn.

But Stenberg, a former state attorney general, has run numerous statewide campaigns, including three failed Senate bids. He can count on a solid base of support.

“The conventional wisdom is that a third candidate will hurt Bruning and help Stenberg, because Stenberg’s base is so solid,” said J.L. Spray, a Republican from Lincoln long involved in Nebraska party politics.

Of course, Fischer and Stenberg could vie for similar votes, giving Bruning a clear advantage, said Hibbing.

Fischer would have to buck recent history to win. A rancher’s wife, she lives in rural Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District. The last time a U.S. senator lived in that district while in Congress was 1979 — Sen. Carl Curtis of Minden.

Of course, other Nebraska senators have had rural ties, including Nelson, who grew up in McCook, and former Sen. Chuck Hagel, who lived in several small Nebraska towns.

Fischer’s ties to ranch country could help her connect with voters in western Nebraska. But the big question remains whether she can raise money in Omaha and Lincoln.

Fischer says she can, noting that she grew up in Lincoln and spent eight years in the Legislature.

“I have connections across the state,” she said.

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Fischer Tenacious & Direct

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Sen. Isn’t one for soft sell

Wednesday March 23, 2011
By Paul Hammel

LINCOLN — Only a couple of weeks after Deb Fischer took office as a Nebraska state senator, it became clear she wouldn’t be a bashful back-bencher.

That’s when the freshman, in defense of the one-room schools in her Sand Hills district, rose from her seat to challenge a ruling by the Speaker of the Legislature.

In the pecking order of state lawmakers, that’s sort of like a kindergartner thumbing her nose at the senior class president on the first day of school.

“She was shooting rockets that we didn’t even know existed,” said a fellow senator and friend who was also elected in 2004, Mike Flood of Norfolk.

Seven years later, Fischer, the 60-year-old daughter of a former state roads director, is now one of the most influential senators in the Nebraska Legislature.

Her tenacious and direct style has drawn comparisons to former U.S. Rep. Virginia Smith, R-Neb., and to leading state legislators of the past such as Terry Carpenter of Scottsbluff and Loran Schmit of Bellwood.

Friends say she is bright, goal-driven and tirelessly well-prepared, a master at counting votes and forming coalitions. Nicknamed “The Queen” and “General,” Fischer is viewed as a pragmatic conservative who opposes higher taxes, defends landowner rights and supports the agricultural constituents she represents.

“She’ll fight harder than just about anyone in here,” said State Sen. Lavon Heidemann of Elk Creek, a friend who is chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

“Because she pushes things so hard, it might cost her,” said Heidemann, referring to those who might “vote red” — no — just because it’s her bill.

Fischer’s legislative career will be over after 2012 because of term limits, and she has been mentioned as a possible candidate for U.S. Senate. Others, however, wonder if she has the interest and financial wherewithal to challenge the already-announced and well-connected Republican candidates, Attorney General Jon Bruning and State Treasurer Don Stenberg.

Her pro-ag stands on water issues often put Fischer at odds with environmental and conservation groups, who say she doesn’t represent the recreational interests in her own district, which includes the Niobrara River and Snake River Falls.

Fischer said her reputation as being ruthless is overblown, “but it helps.”

“She doesn’t soft-sell her positions,” said Mark Brohman, a former lobbyist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and now head of the Nebraska Environmental Trust, from which Fischer is trying to take money to fund water projects.

But even ideological foes admire her ability to build relationships with powerful senators and lobby groups, to work the floor during debate and to strongly articulate her views.

“She’s one of the most talented and effective senators in the body, maybe in the history of the body,” said Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad, a Democrat who often is at odds with Fischer’s views.

Those skills will be tested this week. The Legislature is scheduled to begin debate on her ambitious proposal to spend an additional $140 million a year on highway construction over the next 20 years.

Legislative Bill 84 represents a sea change in the funding of road construction, not by the traditional method of tax increases but by earmarking a portion of the state sales tax, about $140 million annually.

It’s been billed as “concrete versus kids,” because such a move would divert money away from K-12 schools, higher education and human services.

Fischer said Nebraska needs to either address a looming funding crisis in maintaining and building good roads, or tell citizens it isn’t a top priority.

“Roads are different. It takes long-term planning and commitment. We can’t put this off any longer,” Fischer said.

Budget cuts this year in education, public safety and social services should guarantee that there is enough money in two years to fund her plan when it goes into effect, she said.

“I’m looking forward to this week. This session is an opportunity to get back to the core duties of government.”

It will be a hard sell for some senators and even Gov. Dave Heineman, who said he agrees with Fischer 95 percent of the time.

The roads issue deserves debate, Heineman said, but it’s unclear whether the economic picture will improve enough by 2013 to skim off $140 million in revenue.

Fischer has done her homework on the issue, having conducted hearings statewide and amassed a coalition of supporters that includes chambers of commerce, truck drivers, highway contractors, urban cities and rural villages.

Like a highway under construction, Fischer’s life has taken a few detours, but the destination was always politics.

She grew up around the State Capitol, where her father, the late Jerry Strobel, spent his career in the State Roads Department and directed the agency from 1987 to 1991.

Fischer planned to get a college degree in political science, go to law school, then get involved in politics. Instead, she fell in love with Sand Hills rancher Bruce Fischer. They married and raised three sons on the windswept Sunny Slope Ranch 30 miles from the nearest town, Valentine.

Instead of learning the law, she learned how to ride a horse.

Her first public service job was on the board for the area’s one-room country school. She served on statewide boards for the Nebraska Cattlemen and State School Boards Association, and on committees that revised formulas for state aid to schools and screened candidates for judgeships.

She rejected suggestions that she run for Legislature in 1996, saying her boys were too young. In 2004, she emerged from a seven-candidate field to win the general election by 128 votes.

“She represents folks up here very well. We, at times, don’t get that in Lincoln,” said Jerry Adamson, a rancher and member of the Cherry County Board.

Heidemann, the Appropriations Committee chairman, calls Fischer his closest friend. They sit side by side in the legislative chamber at their request.

Sen. Chris Langemeier of Schuyler, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, which oversees water and environmental issues, said Fischer isn’t afraid of controversial issues.

“If you’re going to come after her, you’d better know your stuff,” said Carol Carlson, a life-long friend and classmate from Lincoln Southeast High School.

Two bills introduced this year are prime examples of Fischer’s willingness to tackle divisive issues head-on.

One bill, which proposed to divert money from the Nebraska Environmental Trust, raised the ire of groups like Ducks Unlimited and the Sierra Club. The other bill would have eventually eliminated cities’ ability to charge occupation taxes on telephone bills, which is a major source of revenue for Omaha and Lincoln. Cash-strapped municipalities vehemently objected.

Fischer ended up paring back the occupation tax bill, and a compromise is being sought on the Environmental Trust bill.

The fight over the roads bill promises to be even more controversial. .

Fischer said she’s willing to take the heat. Alternatives to her plan — such as raising gas taxes or licensing fees — are either politically unreasonable or don’t raise enough money, she said.

If nothing is done, it will cost more later, she said.

“There are people in here who get it. They understand that roads are a responsibility of government.”

And if the state doesn’t have the money down the road, she said, lawmakers will fund “kids instead of concrete.”

As for higher office, Fischer said that will have to wait.

“Are people talking to me all the time? Yes. But I’m not going to miss a day of this year’s session. It’s too important for the people of the state.”

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