State senator Deb Fischer won Nebraska's Republican Senate primary, the Associated Press projected late Tuesday night. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Fischer defeated Nebraska attorney general Jon Bruning 41 percent to 36 percent. State treasurer Don Stenberg- the tea party candidate- was in third place with 19 percent.
Fischer, 61, was considered to be an underdog in the Republican's senate primary battle. Bruning, 43, was seen as the frontrunner- he had higher name recognition than Fischer and his campaign far outpaced hers in terms of fundraising.
Fischer's candidacy didn't take off until late in the game, and for most of the primary season Bruning focused his attacks on Don Stenberg, who initially appeared to be his biggest challenger. The attacks lodged by Bruning and Stenberg likely ended up helping Fischer.
Texas Sen. Jon Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, released a statement congratulating Fischer on victory.
"I congratulate Deb Fischer on winning the Nebraska Republican Senate Primary, and look forward to her election in November. The difference in this race couldn't be more clear. Deb is a small business rancher, mother and conservative leader who believes we need to spend less, balance our budget and repeal ObamaCare, while her opponent supports bigger government and higher taxes" Cornyn said. "It's time to restore fiscal sanity and enact pro-jobs policies in Washington and we can do that with Deb Fischer as the next U.S. Senator from Nebraska."
Fischer will run against Bob Kerrey in the fall. The former Governor and Senator of the Cornhusker state officially won his party's nomination on Tuesday, though he had been considered the likely nominee since he entered the race. Ben Nelson, the state's Democratic Senator, announced he would not seek re-election in December, 2011.
Republicans have long viewed Nebraska as one of their best chances to pick up a Senate seat from Democrats, even before Nelson announced his plans. The non-partisan Cook Political Report rates the race as "lean Republican."